Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year!

Hello beloved family!! Life is great! God lives, He loves us, Jesus Christ is our Saviour, the Church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and I love all of you!

Kit & Kev- thanks for the Christmas package! It arrived in the nick of time - December 23, but I picked it up from the post office on Christmas Eve. Whew! Thank you very very very much!

Joy & Darrell - Congradulations! I´m so happy for you! Boy or girl, this baby will have two fabulous parents and four awesome big brothers!

Well life is great in Portugal! We had our zone conference which went great, and we had a great time passing by people, investigators and members on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It was wonderful to feel the Christmas spirit, and I´m excited to start a new year and better my efforts as a representative of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Thanks again Dad for your advice on the Christmas phone call. I´ll work hard to remember and apply it.

One quick funny story. Yesterday we went by a less active´s house and left taking out their trash for them. I was carrying a really big back of trash, and when we came to the dumpster I started to swing it to toss it into the dumpster without using both hands to lift it up and over. `one ... two...´ SNAP! the bag snapped from the weight of the trash and much of its contents spilled onto the road. Once we were done laughing we cleaned up what we could and moved on.

Anyways, I love all of you and wish you a happy new year! Looking forward to more emails and news... tchau!

--Elder Ellis V (from Tribe 2)

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Greetings to one and all from Portugal! How is everyone? I am so happy to have this time again to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas - celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - and feel His love. I love all of you and pray for all of you. Thanks again for all the packages and well wishes. I love all ya´ll!

This week has gone well. It has been really fun to share candy canes as we pass by less actives and potential / former investigators, and keep looking for those who are prepared, and even watch the Joy to the World dvd. I echo Hendel - Hallelujah! The joy of Christmas simply is the joy of the gospel. I feel that same excitement when people finally progress, come to church, etc. A lady named Rhaísa who just had her 3rd boy at the end of November came to church and brought all 3 boys (the other two are 7 and 5ish), enjoyed sacrament meeting and was warmly greeted by the sister who teaches the gospel principles class. Yay!

Well we´ve got a fun week ahead. Today is only partly a preparation - we are doing email and groceries and then keep working, and we´ll have the usual Pday (freed up from internet and shopping) on Christmas day! And we have a big Christmas zone conference in Oeiras on Wednesday. Well once again, I love all of you and wish you a Merry Christmas! In addition, if you are not already planning on doing so, I invite everyone to prayerfully consider what you can individually give as a gift to Christ, and write it down on a paper and maybe put it in your stocking. Maybe further developing a Christlike attribute, giving up a bad or not-so-worthwhile habit, giving greater service in general or to specific individuals... anything that you feel prompted to give of yourself. Love you, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

--Elder Ellis V

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Hello everyone!

This week has flown by yet again! On Tuesday I set Elder Rich off at the Sete Rios bus station for the Algarve and went to the mission office to meet up with my new companion Elder Michael James McFarren from Stockton, California! That makes the in-the-field companion count: 4 for Utah boys and 4 for California boys! He is a great guy and a convert to the church, and we´re ready to tear it up!

Thank you Mom and Joy for the Christmas packages! Mom, I believe I received package #2 - big rice crispy cookie, another wrapped present (which I didn´t open yet) and a belated letter from around Mother´s Day. Joy, everything looks delicious and was intact. I´m saving a bunch of the goodies for closer to Christmas time, and thanks for the pictures of your fantastic 4 boys! (There´s a Halloween costume idea... maybe.)

Another really cool thing - last night we went to Oeiras to see the (re)broadcast of the First Presidency Christmas devotional and there was a young Brazilian woman there from Bahia who met cousin Zach - ahem, Elder Ellis! She noticed my nametag and did a little double take and said she had met him a month and a half ago... or so. Small world!

Anyways, that´s the biggest news. The weather outside is not as frightful as other places gifted with snow, but it has gotten nippy. Not only have I been using my sweaters, but I´ve also busted out the long (ski) underwear Mom got me before going into the MTC. So I´ll confess to everyone - Mothers are always right! (I didn´t think I would need them, but they make me so much more comfortable!) Thanks again Mom!

Well that´s the news from the Farol da Europa. Thanks again for the packages, emails, letters, etc. And I will echo Rachel´s words for getting into the true Christmas spirit and sharing the gospel with others! Go get ´em everybody! Have a great week!

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hey everybody!

Thanks once again for all the great stuff! That was a great picture of Grandma Hazel and Grandpa Big Dad. Thanks for the news and updates!

Speaking of which, (or typing thereof) here´s my bit of news! Last week I forgot to share that John Caravela (sp?) paid a visit at church last week! Not yesterday but the week before... It was a pleasant surprise to see him! Anyways, this week. Unfortunately Rosália was not yet baptized. When she said she was going out of town I had assumed she would be back sooner, and we only got in contact again a few days ago. She should be back this week, and hopefully everything will go well so she can be baptized this weekend, or at least soon.

Oh, the belated Thanksgiving feast with the Hinckley family was amazing. We still haven´t finished the leftovers. Irmão Hinckley is a great ward mission leader, really diligent on helping us with lessons when he can and trying to focus with the bishopric and other ward members on strengthening the recent converts, getting them hometeachers and callings, and working on finding more people. It´s great!

Well today I got a haircut. It´s back to the very short look. I told the barber what I wanted, 3 on the sides and 4 on the top, and he said it would be short, so I went ahead and got it over with since I don´t have the patience to tell him how a ´missionary cut´ should be. I do miss Mom, Sis Parker, and Sorene´s good haircuts. But oh well. In other news, we´re planning on going to the zoo today and when I called President Torgan for permission he acquiesced to our request but also let us know that Elder Rich is being transferred to the Algarve, so he´ll need to be back in time to start packing his bags. Nothing is as constant as change, right?

Well, that´s the bit of news, I hope everyone is having a great time and enjoying the holidays with the focus on the real meaning of Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ! Have a great week! Much love,

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm still here El Guapo!

Hello beloved family!!

What a week! I´m happy everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! It wasn´t the usual feast, but we managed to do what we could. On Thursday we met with some other missionaries at our chapel in Linda-A-Velha and had a semi-potluck thanksgiving. We brought the mashed potatoes, and we were all supposed to bring our own meat, and since properly prepared turkey could not be found, we stuck with spicy grilled chicken from the nearby grocery store. But hey, it´s the thoughts that count, right? And no worries, because tomorrow we´ll have all the right fixings with an American family in our ward. (It was also postponed because of waiting for the turkey!)

Anyways, it´s been a good week. We´ve worked a lot with Rosália and she is ready to be baptized this Saturday, December 5. (Here´s the heads up Dadio -- Rosália Maria Coelho Ferreira Rebelo.) And we´re fired up to keep working with those who are ready, and find the ones we haven´t met yet! Thanks everyone for the updates and well wishes. Have a great week! Love,

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello beloved family! Happy Thanksgiving!

Alas, Thanksgiving is not a Portuguese Holiday. However, just because we don´t get the usual big feasts (and tournaments, games, and watching Scrooge) like back at home, we can still be thankful to God for the countless blessings we have, every day! I want to let all of you know I am thankful for each of you and the good example and influence and support that you all are to me. And I´m thankful for a knowledge of the gospel, that Jesus Christ is my/our Savior, and that I can be preaching that gospel here in Portugal! Yipikiyay!

Thanks everyone for the great emails. Kit, those little quotes from the girls were hilarious, especially about the crackers and ´raise the roof!´ Good times. Life is great here in Linda-A-Velha. Last Monday night we had a great lesson with the couple Carlos and Rosália, and David Hinckley, our ward mission leader, came with us (and his 8 year old daughter Ema). It was a nice lesson, the Spirit was there, and we invited Rosália to be baptized on this coming Saturday (Nov 28), and she accepted. They like to talk and we ended up going overtime, and we were late for our usual Family Night appointment with the bishop and his wife. Haha, then Celeste (the bishop´s wife) called and said they had someone there, which made us feel bad for being late, and we booked it over to their house. Ricardo, the 20 year old Portuguese man who was there, was a nice fellow and we had a good dinner and lesson. Friday we had another lesson with him, watching the Restoration DVD, and he said he felt something powerful and different when he read Monday night and during the movie. I love being a missionary! After that lesson we took the bishop with us to an appointment with Emileine, a Brazilian woman whose 12 year old daughter is a member but she is not ... yet. We´ve found out she hasn´t given up coffee yet, so we played a game (Pit) and a long story short we rigged the game so if she tried to go for coffee she would lose - just to make the point - and she did. Then we read D&C 89. And lo and behold, at sacrament meeting on Sunday she came, and the main speaker gave a really big talk on a subject none other than the word of wisdom! She kept on looking at us during the talk and afterwards joked around saying we were planning all of this stuff just for her. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not...

Anyways, life is great! We´re also excited to be working with a recent convert family in getting the other members, who are the husband and the two sons, on board. Bruno, the older son, seems to me most prepared. Well, that´s a bit of the highlights! Keep the emails and updates coming everybody! I love you all, and I´m thankful for you too! Have a great week!

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, November 16, 2009


Hello beloved family!!

Happy Belated and Early Birthdays to Aup, Ethan, Rachel, Grandma Turtle, and Joy! I´m thankful to have each of you as a member in my family, and I hope you had a great birthday!

This week went well. I´m learning more and more about how we shouldn´t worry about things we can´t control, because we can´t do anything about them! Therefore, we should do the very best we can and focus on what our part is, and leave the rest to the Lord! Unfortunately the investigators we were hoping on baptizing soon have been dropping off the face of the earth. Busy schedules, and not answering our calls. But hey, ´some will, some won´t, stop whining and start working!´, right? They might not be the ones who are prepared right now, so we´ll focus on finding the ones who are ready. But we are still working with and excited to be working with a less active named Carlos and his not-yet-member wife (YES, THEY ARE MARRIED!!). There´s also another couple who were a reference from the wife´s aunt, who is a member who lives somewhere else, and they have two little boys. So life is great!

Well I love all of you! Thanks for the updates, emails, pictures, etc. Have a great week and I will hear from you next week! Much love,

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, November 9, 2009


Hello beloved family!

Wow, congratulations to Rob and Christa for the Marathon! That sounds intense! Parabéns! Elder Rich and I went runnning a couple of times this week and one morning we were going up this gradual hill which didn´t seem so bad looking at it but it proved to be quite the challenge when we were actually running up it! Congradz again, that´s one huge accomplishment!

Well, this week was awesome. Last Monday I successfully retreived my box and nothing was lost or damaged. Woohoo! This week we´ve had our times working with recent converts along with everything else. There is an Indian family (the parents have legitimate Dalmuti accents, it´s always a pleasure to listen to them) with 3 kids (they´re accents are not near as strong), two Brazilian young women Cirleide (she turns 19 next Monday) and Jessica (17), and a Portuguese mother and daughter Maria and Vânia (22). It´s great working with them and doing what we can to help them be constant in living the gospel!

We´re also excited to be working with a man named Jorge who is quiet but has enjoyed our lessons and feels good when he´s read and prayed. And yesterday we contacted a member referral from outside our area which turned out great. When we came to their floor the husband opened the door and asked if we were looking for 2ºA (their apartment) and I had gotten mixed up during the walk up the stairs and thought we were looking for 2ºB so I told him ´No, we´re looking for 2ºB´. Then we talked to the lady at 2ºB and she said there was no Rhaissa (spelling uncertain) who lived there. We were kind of bummed but then I remembered that we wanted 2ºA, NOT B, and the husband opened the door again and said `I think you talked to my wife yesterday on the phone, we´re right here, come on in.´ What a blessing we get to work with people smarter than ourselves! And that lesson went great! Fernando (the husband) and Rhaissa have to little boys ages 7 and 5 and one more due on November 27 (comind up soon!). They were happy to visit with us and excited to keep going. YAY!!

Thursday was absolutely awesome! We had zone conference and were blessed with the company of Elder Erich Kopischke, president of the Europe Area. It was an amazing conference and I learned a ton and was corrected likewise, all by the Spirit. After the leadership meeting Elder Kopischke interviewed me and one of the office elders, which was a great boost. I don´t know if he contacted you Dad, but he said he was gonna say hi and all is well, which it is! :D

Well life is great. Keep on keepin on everybody! I love you and I hope ya´ll have a great week! Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stop the press!

Hello beloved family!!

Well, there´s been quite the bit of changes and surprises this week! Last Monday, after my internet time was up and while I was getting one more haircut from Sorene, President Torgan called and informed me that I was being transferred to the area of Linda-A-Velha (Beauty the Old) to be district leader. And on top of that, I had to leave Tuesday, the following day, instead of Thursday as transfers normally run. So it was a bit of shock, but luckily I was able to have the last family night with Ivan and Sorene and also Adriana, Brenda, and Samuel. I packed Tuesday morning and Elder Sagebin and I went to mail off some stuff and it turns out the post office (here at least) doesn´t accept credit card so I was unable to mail off a package with surplus stuff that I wanted to send home (in a box). We headed off, and en route while we were on a metro I forgot to pick up said box and left it at the metro station. So today I will recover that box...

Linda-A-Velha (LAV) is a big area with huge potential. My new companion is Elder Matthew Sterling Rich, a good hard working Elder getting the language down. We have a lot of recent converts to work with, and we´re trying to help some other investigators push through and overcome whatever barriers are holding them back from being baptized, be it smoking, getting married, or recognizing a testimony that the restored gospel is TRUE!

So yeah, life is great here at the Pretty Old Lady! Just in case anyone´s interested, the apartment address here is:
Avenida Bombeiros Voluntários de Algés
1495-019 Algés

Thanks everyone again for the emails. John and Mark, I found your blogs especially amusing. Rock on Johnboy! Anyways. I love all ya´ll, keep on keepin on! Tchau!
--Elder Ellis V

Monday, October 26, 2009

Um... less than two months til Christmas!

Hey everybody! We had another great week here in Carregado! Fábio is doing great - yesterday he was ordained a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and will bless the sacrament this coming Sunday!

So last week we stayed in Santarém and did divisions there, so that we´d be ready to go for interviews with President Torgan on Tuesday. Before we split up Monday night all 8 of us Elders were singing hymns to people we contacted, and unfortunately my voice/throat got a bit strained, and then I caught a widdle code (a little cold) but I´m all better now. I was really happy with interviews seeing that the Spirit was guiding President Torgan in what to ask, and we both were guided in looking for ways I can do better, including praying more frequently for the Lord´s guidance. Great stuff!

Well I love all of you! Thanks again for the news and emails! I don´t know who those ´long lost relatives´ were that Darrell sent the youtube video about, but we are ALL family, right? Haha, have a great week everybody! Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, October 19, 2009


Helloooo greatest family!! I LOVE LIFE!!

So, this week went fantastically! (Please forgive the spelling errors.) Mom, I got the package you sent, which included the cd Kit, Kev, and their girls sent on Tuesday October 13. Boy oh boy, the shoes are FABULOUS!! Thank you thank you thank you! And thanks Kit & Kevin, and Rob and Christa for the video-picture clips. It is so great to see ya´ll! And thanks again to all who have sent personalized emails. They´re amazing.

Fábio Ferreira Santos was baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday at sacrament meeting. We had a great turnout at the baptism - practically the whole branch was there, as well as two friends of Fábio, Jenaeína (the married 17 year old young woman) and a 23 year old guy, I can´t remember his name. And Ivan and Sorene and André and Manuela came. Splendid! Haha, we started late mainly because we had trouble fitting Jaimir Olivi into the clothes so he could baptize Fábio. Poor guy. He´s big, and even if he lost some weight he´s still just super thick. But it went well! The only downside was Lucas, Ivan and Sorene´s adorable 1 and 1/2 year old, ran outside and fell down the stairs and had a nasty scrape on his forhead. But what doesn´t kill him only makes him stronger, right?

Well everything is going well. I´m low on time from checking out photos and stuff, but I wanna let ya´ll know that I love you and am praying for all of you! Thanks for your emails, updates, prayers, and everything else! Have a great week! Love,

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Family!

Hello wonderful family!!

Natalie, I loved that recent blog. Subject - my jeans fit! Whole of message - that is all. Brilliant! Reminds me of that one quote from Cats and Dogs, but I´ll quote that after the mission.

So good to hear from everybody! I´m so grateful for such great examples! Haha, just before Elder Sagebin and I came to do internet, we stopped by a drycleaning place that we normally go to whenever we need stuff done, and the owners are a Brazilian couple. Elder Sagebin wanted a pair of suit slacks to be tailored, and while I was waiting the man asked if I was married and had kids. I said ´not yet, but in a couple of years, probably´ which scared the heck out of me, but also made me think of the great examples of siblings and siblings in law that I have of being awesome parents, not to mention the incredible duo Mama KK and Papa Stan!

Anyways. Life is great in Carregado! Unfortunately due to beaurecratic paperwork André´s baptism is postponed until he and Manuela finish up all that stuff to be married first. But Fábio is taking everything in stride and we have the plans and most everything ready for his baptism this Saturday! It is quite exciting.

This weekend we did a group fast with Ivan and Sorene to ask for God´s help in speeding up the paperwork stuff so they can get married. It was Ivan´s first fast and he didn´t make the whole 24 hours but I´ll still give him an A for effort. We even proposed them/him taking a smaller amount of time to try first but he said he´d try. We´ve also been really blessed with steadily finding more people. We met and had a first lesson with a couple who seem very prepared. Our follow up appointment with them yesterday evening fell though partly because they had been taking so much time and effort to get her legalized (she´s Brazilian) and the both of them married, all on their own! And leaving their house a lady in her ´back yard´ (the closest thing to one) just started talking to us, and we´re gonna teach her and her husband tonight. Life is great!!

Thanks again everyone for the news and updates. Keep ´em coming! Have a great week! Much love,
--Elder Ellis V

Monday, October 5, 2009

I love life!

Hello wonderful family!

First off I would like to put Elder David A. Bednar´s counsel to practice and let all of you know I LOVE YOU! Mom, Dad, Joy, Darrell, Warren, Jared, Cameron, Nolan, Kit, Kevin, Ryn, Elle, Eden, Matt, Natalie, Sam, Ethan, Mia, Mark, Aup, Tea, John, Laura, Brian, Caity, Anne-Lorenne, Nora Jane, Cosette, Rob, Christa, Rachel, Emily, Grandma Turtle, Uncle Bob, Clay, Uncle Kelly.... EVERYBODY! Thank you for being such wonderful examples and influences in my life! I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that His Church was restored through Joseph Smith the Prophet, and that we can have all the blessings of God´s love if we comply with His eternal laws!

This has been a great week. Last Tuesday we had zone conference in Lisbon, and we were invited to increase our faith so we can better do the Lord´s work His way. And we prayed many times to set meaningful goals, which brought `pray always´ to my mind several times throughout the day. We set a goal for 5 baptisms for the month of October. We had a lot of searching to do throughout the week, but we´ve also been very blessed. Conference alone, even missing a session or two and only watching in Portuguese, was still a tremendous privilege since we could watch it in our own chapel. And the Spirit can testify to us no matter what language we´re speaking/listening to! And along with that we were blessed in marking a date for Fábio to be baptized! Which is a big step since he´s been an investigator for a long time (at least several months) and has always shied away from baptismal invites. Now he feels sure about it, and he will be baptized on October 17, along with André! I´m super happy for them! And that´s two of our goal of 5!

So yeah, life is great! Thanks everyone for the updates. Always a pleasure to hear from you! Have a great week!

--Elder Ellis V

Monday, September 28, 2009

Our God is a loving God of miracles!

Hello lovely family!

It is so great to hear the good news about Mia Vera, Nora Jane, and Cosette. And I´m happy everyone´s been having such a great time!

Thanks Aup for fixing up the email and blog thing. I owe ya!

So, this has been a great week! The baptsim for Vanessa Alexandra Regueiras Ruivo went very well. It started late, but better late than never, right? Since there is no baptismal font here in Carregado, we went to the Church building of Alverca and used their font. We had a good number of members there, and our wonderful Brazilian investigating couple Ivan and Sorene with their adorable little boy Lucas went, and the Alverca Elders had a Portuguese investigator couple there as well. I gave a talk on baptism, Elder Sagebin baptized Vanessa, and a young woman of the branch named Brenda gave a talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost. But rewinding a bit for our other miracle - before we left for Alverca to prepare the baptismal font, André (boyfriend of Vanessa´s mother) sent us a text saying he ´was no longer part of our family´. Confused and worried I called to see what was the matter, and he said Manuela (Vanessa´s mom) was kicking him out. I pleaded for him to try and stick around so we could talk to him again, but he didn´t go to the baptism. Right after I hung up the phone Elder Sagebin and I offered a kneeling prayer and straight up asked God for a miracle and the intervention of His angels, seen or unseen. We don´t know what happened, but God answered our prayer and André was at church the next morning sitting next to Manuela holding hands, and we´ll be visiting with them again tonight. Yay!!

Well, life is great. I´m very happy for everyone, and always eager to receive news! Keep it coming! Oh, and Rachel - that picture of you in front of the hotel was awesome. Elder Sagebin and I managed to take some cool pictures too, one in particular being each of us in front of a bill board political advertisement that says ´chegou a hora da verdade´ -- the Hour of Truth has arrived! Haha, so ya´ll will get to see it soon enough. Anyways, that´s the main hunk of news. We´ve got zone conference tomorrow, and are figuring out how we´ll watch general conference this weekend. I´m excited! Have a great week everybody!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I lack a good subject title, but it´s better than nothing!

Hey beloved Family!!

This has been a great week! Thanks Mom for the package of the Apple Jacks and the dvd of Aunt Becky. I got that last Thursday morning - it was pretty funny, we were walking on the streets and we were rounding a corner when a mailman we´ve seen before stopped and looked at us. Quite the inquisitive look he gave, too. Then he opened up the trunk of his car and whipped out said package from Mom and gave it to me. Quite the pleasant surprise! And I just watched it today before coming here to do email. Unfortunately the sound wasn´t working so I couldn´t hear anything, but it was a pleasure to see that slideshow. THANKS! And Kit, you look great with your haircut! Sadly, I haven´t seen any pictures of Em´s haircut or the newborns, but Cosette has a mighty small diaper!

One quick change ya´ll might want to take into consideration, my preparation day is being moved to Mondays, just like Rachel´s. So this is the last of the Wednesday ones, and starting Monday the 28th P-days will be on Monday.

Rachel -- THAT is your mission president?! That is awesome! Such a small world!! I had forgotten that man´s name, and it turns out he´s your mission president! Wow! And whatshisbucket from that stake ´track meet´ thing. He could be a number of guys, but if he´s the same guy I´m thinking about, he´s a big one.

Anyways. Life is great!! Finally THIS Saturday, September 26, Vanessa will be baptized! With Sebastião we´re not so sure. He is busy trying to save money to move back to São Tomé soon, and he said he hadn´t received an answer yet, and he wants more time to read and pray and get his answer. With respect to that essential need, we will also have a kneeling prayer with him tonight and continue to work with him before he leaves. But moving forward with Vanessa, everything looks great and all systems go! She selected Elder Sagebin to baptize her and she wants me to give one of the talks. Always a pleasure bringing people to Christ!

Thanks again everyone for all of your support, love, and prayers. And I echo Rachel´s words -- keep being awesome parents! I wish all these parents here could see your great examples of parenting! Keep it up! Love all of you, and have a great week!

--Elde Ellis V

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blasted public services

Hello beloved family!!

In explanation of the subject title, today I am using a public library computer, which frustratingly has not allowed me to see any of the photos ya´ll sent. So I will await and see the beautiful pictures of Kit and Em´s haircuts, the twins Cosette and Nora Jane, whatever pictures Natalie sent, and everything else next week. I haven´t seen them but I know all of them, including Kit and Em with new haircuts, are wonderfully beautiful!

Ah, so good to hear from everyone! But to keep the good emails coming, I need some HELP right away! (MOM -- will you copy the emails and purge them from my myldsmail account asap? I´m at 94% and I don´t want to miss any emails from anybody! THANKS!)

So we found out yesterday that Elder Sagebin and I will be staying together here in Carregado for atleast another 6 weeks! Yahoo! We´re really excited to keep working hard and especially focusing on preparing and baptizing Sebastião and Vanessa on the 26 of September. And every other elect we find too!

Well today was pretty fun! Elder Sagebin and I made the trip over to Caldas da Rainha for Elder Bell´s very last Preparation day before going home, and we went bowling and also squeezed in a game of pool. I´m terribly rusty in both games, but we still had fun.

Well I love all of you! Have a great week and I hope to keep hearing wonderful news! Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

take 2

Wow, technology is really frustrating when it doesnt work. If this is a repeat I apologize but I wanted to make sure something got sent out to all ya´ll.

Mom and Dad - thanks for the package with the memory card, camera case, etc! I got it last Thursday at interviews, and am enjoying it! Curiousity, what happened to the other memory card I sent you at the beginning of the year?

Em -- please add Grandma Turtle, Joy, and anyone else who knows me on my Facebook. And if you could announce the blog post thing that Aup is fixing up, I´d appreciate that too! Thanks!

Aup -- Thanks a lot! Once it´s all rolling I´d be fine with keeping my blog open Thanks again!

Well this is gonna be short and sweet. We marked Sebastião to be baptized on the 19, and we want to get a 12 year old girl Vanessa, daughter of an inactive, marked for the same day. We´re trying to focus on them, and keep the other work going too. Well, I love you, and I´ll keep praying for all of you, especially Laura and the twins to be healthy and strong. Have a great week everybody! tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hello wonderful Family!!

Thank you everyone for your updates, emails, pictures, prayers, and love. What happened to my nephew Warren?? I just saw some pictures where some huge stud must have taken his place in Cedar Park. Call the police and arrest that giant! Mom and Dad - I got the package with the wallet on Friday (you did NOT send the SD memory card, right?) and the letter ya´ll wrote on August 22nd yesterday (September 1). Matt and Nat, I´m SO HAPPY to hear everything went perfectly, and Nat and lil Mia are well. Unfortunately I could not see those photos you sent on the email, but I´m sure Mia looks beautiful just like her mom! Thanks Uncle Kelly for the news and everyone else´s comments about Becky. I am happy that she is released from her pain, and even more so for the great life she lived and the great work she accomplished. If possible, I would love a copy of that slideshow also.

Well, buckin up and movin on, we had another great week in Carregado! The greatest so far in fact. We are doing our best to follow the Spirit and give our best efforts and leave the rest to the Lord, and He has blessed us with new people to teach, lots of opportunities to teach them, and even in members´ homes! QUE COISA BOA! For example, Monday night we had a Family Night in the home of an inactive woman who wants to come back to church, and her boyfriend wants to investigate the church, (her daughter, who was not present that time, was close to getting baptized a couple of months ago) and an active woman and her teacher-aged son participated also. It went great! And last night we had another family night in another member home where a not-yet-member nephew and his girlfriend and Georgian friend (with the cool name Lasha) all wanted their own Book of Mormon before we left! LIFE IS WONDERFUL!!

Well, time is up and I gotta go, but I love all ya´ll and am praying for you. Please keep the emails and updates coming. Tchau
--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dearest Family --

It is great to get any and all news that I can. I am sorry about Aunt Becky, and I will continue to pray for her, Uncle Kelly, Mic, and the rest of Tribe 5. How great it is to have a knowledge of the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation! Please pass on my love to all of Tribe 5. I look forward to the day when I can get to know Aunt Becky, along with Grandma and Grandpa Ellis, and Grandpa Lion, in the ways I could not/have not during this life.

Thanks Rob and Christa for the package you sent - I got it this morning and am very pleased! Sorry to hear about the miscarriage, but as you said all things are under God´s control and He will lead us aright.

Well this has been quite the week! God has truly been blessing Elder Sagebin and me in our efforts, and we can see His Hand in Carregado! Nilzete, the Brazilian member we´ve been reactivating, has been on a role and took us to teach a lesson to her friends who live a good half hour walk from her house. Besides that she really wants to help the work move forward and is inviting her friends and neighbors to church as well. With Nilzete on the right track, we want to give some more attention to reactivating another member - a nice Portuguese man named Vítor Martinho. Through small and simple things are great things like reactivations brought to pass, and we will try to have weekly visits with him renewing the Restoration and the good friendly and happy feelings that the Gospel brings.

Sunday we brought a street contact to church, and he was able to stay for the first hour (which was sacrament meeting). A big family in the ward finally got back from vacationing in Venezuela and we´re excited to work with them more. Their oldest son is 17 and we can work with him, and their 16 year old daughter, along with Brenda, came to me after Church saying how they want to help and visit everyone they possibly can - members, inactives, and investigators. Oh, if only EVERYONE could have that vision and zeal! Brenda helped us out Sunday night with another visit to Ivan and Sorene. We taught about fasting, which went well, and when we were leaving the elevator got stuck! Quite the humorous adventure. Luckily they only live on the 3rd floor, and we got stuck just above the first floor, and we were out in 8 minutes. Not too shabby!

Yesterday was a complete finding day until dinner, and God blessed us with success! We made a lot of return appointments, and we were let in by a brazilian man and taught him and his friend, left them with copies of the Book of Mormon, and invited them to read and pray before our appointment on Friday afternoon. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! And last night we had a Family Night with Adriana (Brenda´s mom) and family, including Leandro who is Adriana´s inactive semi-ex-husband. He participated and seemed to enjoy it!

Well that´s it for this week. I love you all and am praying for you. Keep filling me in on what´s going on with each of you. And Mom -- another sweep down of my missionary email account would be splendid. Love all of you!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hello from Carregado!

Hey Everybody!!

Good news, Joy! I got your package last week! Haha, unfortunately we found the slip and went to pick it up from the post office after I had already done email last week, so I gave you false information. Sorry! And THANK YOU for the wonderful package!! Everything was intact, still in the cool little wrappings, and the letters were great also! Give a bear hug to Warren, Jared, and Cameron for me!

Anyways, life is great! No bonking heads on metal bars, safe travel, getting stuff done! Thursday we worked on a home/visiting teaching plan with the branch president and first counselor, which looks promising as long as everyone ´does well their part´. Unfortunately the branch president is traveling for holidays and wont be back for a week or two, but we´ll still keep going!

Monday we had a division with Caldas da Rainha after district meeting. One of the changes President Torgan made about two weeks ago is that Carregado will now be part of the Santarém Zone, instead of the Alverca Zone. (Which makes sense since Carregado is part of the ecclesiastical Santarém District.) Needless to say, I think it is pretty cool to have been back in my previous area, and working side by side with the greatest branch mission leader Christophe Jaime and my former companion Elder Bell again!

Yesterday we swithced back and after a PMG lesson with Brenda, and after that we passed by a potential investigator who Elder Sagebin had contacted with Elder Larsen during the division. And then we needed to be in the chapel reviewing the work that the men had been doing with the floors (they replaced the carpet with some kind of wood), painting the walls, replacing some doors, and replacing the sound system. Then these two other guys came to install the new computer stuff for the branch office and trained us on how to use it for doing tithing and taking care of members´ records. Cool stuff, and it´s gonna be a lot faster than doing it all by hand! Yesterday we also finished off with a meeting at our branch mission leader´s house going over the progress record and some other things for helping out missionary work.

Well, that´s pretty much the news. Ivan and Sorene are doing great, and we´re really looking forward to teaching this young Portuguese couple (I think I saw wedding rings, so they´re already married!! YAY!!). The work goes on! I love ya´ll, and thanks again for all the great emails, pictures, and support. I´m not sure what the status is with Aunt Becky, but I will continue to pray for her. Love,

--€lder €llis V

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Carregado, week 7 ... ish

Hello Beloved Family!!

Another great week in Carregado! Unfortunately I have not received any other mail from anyone (packages or letters) as of yet. For those of you who are sending stuff, the mission address is always on the safe side albeit slower, but I do have the feeling that I will be here for a good while, and certainly at least until September 17. Anyways.

It was awesome to get the updates with the cool pictures! Alas, I think Warren might finally have passed me up. But Elder/Uncle Shorty will continue forward! I didn´t even recognize Anne-Loren (however you spell her name...) But it is so great to hear from all of you! And I´m happy to hear that Mom fixed up her hotmail account and is getting my emails now. Huzzah!

This week has been great. We saw Elder Hansen off last Wednesday and got back to work. While we were at the office President Torgan talked to Elder Bezerra and me about being trainers. (That might have been the ´orientation´ thing you heard about Dad. I arrived in Portugal a few months before Elder Bezerra did, but it is neat that he´s training too. On top of that, we´re back in the same zone again!) And before I left I got a late birthday present from Elizabeth Mann (Sterling´s little sister) which was a cool tie, and I got 3 other ties from one of the other Elders who was going home with Elder Hansen. Anyways, it´s been a great week and Elder Sagebin and I hit the ground running! We´ve been focusing on working hard and efficiently, and the blessings have already started coming! Little by little, we´ve started finding more people and teaching more lessons. This really is God´s work and He can help us best when we try our best to do things His way! The only unfotunate thing that happened (besides having a barren mailbox) was I clobbered my head on the corner of a clotheshanger thing. With all the apartments they have metal bars that come out horizontally from the building and have lines on which to hang your clothes to dry. I didn´t see one metal bar because I was looking at Elder Sagebin while talking to him and nailed the back corner of my head. But it´s ok, only a little tender bump now.

Well time has run out (so many great emails to read and pictures to look at!). I hope to hear more from ya´ll and wish you a happy and terrific week! Tchau!
--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Good things come to those who wait!

Hello wonderful family!!

Well what a week! I know that God does bless us according to our needs, faith, and diligence. Sometimes we may not have room to receive these multiplicities of blessings, and others we do our part and wait for the Lord´s timing, and be still and know that He is God. Happily, the less active Brazilian lady we´ve been working with has been coming to church more consistently and is moreso back on her feet. We passed her by last Friday and read with her Elder Holland´s powerful talk `None Were With Him´ from this past General Conference. (I just read that again this morning in my personal study and I will never cease to be amazed and feel the love from Jesus Christ´s perfect, infinite, and complete Atonement for us all.) We took turns reading the copy of the talk we had printed off and left it with her. Sunday we had arranged a ride for her, but the member ended up not really knowing where she lives and came to sacrament meeting without her. We did a division, Elder Sagebin and Hansen stayed at church and I went with Fernando (the member) to pick up Nilzette at her home. She didn´t utter a word of complaint at all, and came with us happily, and was able to meet with the branch president after the last church meeting to talk about the help she needed.

After church and taking care of tithing, we were finally able to meet with Ivan and Sorene, our wonderful Brazilian couple. Ivan has been so busy with work this past week and all of our previous appointments and attempts to meet with them fell through. But good things come to those who wait! Irmã Tina, a wonderful member who lives right across the road from them, was with us, and we finally were able to talk to them about baptism. And best of all, they readily committed to pray to know about being baptized and to prepare themselves for baptism! *That´s what it´s all about!* Not baptism itself, but true conversion and coming closer to our Savior Jesus Christ through faith and making and keeping covenants! I love the gospel!!

So yeah, that´s the gist of the highlights right there. Last Wednesday we stopped by the mission office and I got the letter from Mom - thanks! Oooh, and Kit and Kevin! Thanks for the package you sent! I got it Friday July 31st, and my companions were a bit perplexed at first as to why the mailman would be delivering a pizza with English written on the pizza box! Way to be creative and frugal, and thanks for the laffy taffys, frisbee, and note. Pass on my love to Ryn, Elle, (and Eden)!

Well, life is great. Elder Hansen is finishing his mission, and we´re taking him into Lisbon today to send him off. Godspeed! We caught word of a lot of big changes happening with transfers. But no biggie, because God is leading His work through revelation to His called and set apart representatives, including President Torgan.

Mom -- I´ve still been emailing these newsletter thingymobobs to you, at ----, so I hope whatever is wrong gets fixed. If it somehow keeps going, would someone please forward my emails to her please?

Rachel -- a-a-a-aHEM! I do assume you are still getting my emails and were talking to the rest of the family when you said you didn´t get emails from anyone except our marvelous Grandma Turtle?

Marko Polo -- CONGRADZ on the board results! I´m so happy for you!

`Well, I love you!´ Thanks again everyone for your great love and support, and have a great week! Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hello beloved family!!

Hey everyone! It is great to hear from everyone! Well this week has gone pretty well. Don´t worry, Dad, we didn´t contact anymore sunbathers. Friday we made a long haul - we had our weekly visit with an inactive Brazilian member named Nilzette, and this time she agreed to come to church without a fuss! She expressed her great anxiety over her driver´s license test and how mean her instructor is, but she agreed anyway! After we were done we took the long country scenic route to another area, and worked out there for the afternoon. We came back in the early evening to receive a blessing - we were able to have a member present lesson with a potential investigator who has been VERY hard to get a hold of, let alone meet with. It went shwell! I really like how President Torgan several weeks ago invited us to focus on preparing ourselves so that we can be ready to be blessed with the success and finding the people the Lord has prepared for us to teach. Obey with exactness, work with all diligence and faith, and ´know that the Lord is God´!

So Rachel´s/Sister Ellis III´s preparation day has been moved to Monday. I´m sure ya´ll will do great in keeping both of your favorite missionaries informed of the wonderful happenings in your lives!! :D Hey Kit and Kevin - ya´ll can go ahead and send that family video dvd. It will be greatly appreciated!

`Well, I love all of you!´ Fica bem e firme! Have a great week!
--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hey everybody!!

Thanks so much for all the news! It is great to hear from ya´ll!

Thanks Uncle Bob for the birthday well wishes! Just so you know, I´ll be using this current email while I am on my mission, and then I´ll be back to my old one ( when I am released from full time service. And I´ll try and send some pictures, but Mom / KK can probly email you some ones I´ve already sent home.

Mark and Aup -- whoa! That was one crazy story about Tearisa getting the flu! I was starting to get worried reading that email, but thanks be to God that she is all right. Whew!

Righteous Rae / Sister Ellis III -- thanks for the referral! I´ll be sure to pass it on to the mission office. The Church is true and it´s great to be a missionary!

Rob and Christa -- thanks for the package!! Man oh man, those brownies are DELICIOUS, and the honey bunches of oats and Reese´s are wonderful also! Thank you very much! I got the package last Thursday but opened it on Friday because I did a division with the zone leaders and was in their area (Alverca) and I figured it´d be easier to carry while still in the box. Thanks again!!

Well well, life is great. So I have reason to believe that Laura´s twins will be girls, is that correct? Congradulations!! Looks like the girl-boy ratio is swinging to the girls´ favor with the nieces and nephews. Anyways, life is great. Last Thursday (when I picked up said package) we had our interviews with President Torgan and I also met Elder Eduardo Molina Sagebin who will be serving with us for the rest of Elder Hansen´s stay and continue serving with me. Great stuff! (Oh yeah, and thanks Dad for the news about Scott Braithwaite´s mission call! Cool beans! Any idea when he´ll arrive in Portugal?)

Friday was a very fun birthday - and thanks again to everyone for all of the well wishes, love and support! 20 years old and feeling fit, fine, and fantastic!! In Alverca Elder Oram treated me to cake and ice cream (from the apartment) to celebrate. Haha, and I´m pretty glad we did the division, because the water was turned off in our apartment in Carregado because the dono hadn´t been keeping up with the water bills. But we got the water back on that same day, so no worries. Davíd (the dono, who is French by the way, random fact) felt bad that we went the whole morning without running water so he bought us pizzas for lunch. He´s got a big heart. Friday evening President and Irmã Torgan called to wish me a happy birthday. Aw, shucks!

Anyways, life is great! Yesterday I got my haircut by the Brazilian lady who is being taught by us, while her husband got a mini lesson on the side by Elders Hansen and Sagebin. Good lesson and good haircut! Before that we had gone to another town in our area a ten minute bus ride away called Alenquer, which is a really pretty town. We searched around for people to talk to, and in our exploration accidentally walked in on a woman in her early 20s sunbathing by her pool -- it was very akward to say the least, but Elder Hansen still gave her a pass-along card. Later Elder Sagebin and I were able to talk to a nice lady in a park and left her with a Restoration pamphlet. We had a really nice conversation with her and as we were leaving she looked like she was reading the pamphlet we left her. Great day!

Well thanks again everyone for your love, support, and emails. Keep ´em coming! Tchau!!

--Elder Ellis V

PS -- thanks Em for passing on Sacha´s birthday wishes for me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another year gone by...

Hello Wonderful Family!!

Aah!! I turn 20 in two days and it does NOT feel like i turned 19 a year ago on the amazingly fun Alaskan cruise! Time literally has flown by! Mom, Dad and Em, I got the package ya´ll sent with the 3 boxes of cereal and the new electric razor last thursday. Thank you soo much! The razor is handy (no pun inteded) and the cereal is delicious and American. Thank you thank you thank you! And Monday I got the big awesome card that practically everybody signed - thank you everyone for your great love and support! And Rachel thanks for the card. I haven´t opened it yet, cuz you had the audacity to write `do not open until July 17th´ but thank you anyways! Kit and Kev - thanks for that birthday email, but sadly I was unable to see the video/audio clip of your girls singing. Thanks for trying though! I think has something against seeing video clips. But I DID see those great regular photos in the other email you sent. Holy smokes!! My nieces and nephews are growing up! Warren G is now Warren the Giant, I didn´t recognize Jared, and I did double takes with Sam and Brian. Thanks so much!

Haha, I feel kind of bad, but I´ve realized some things that I could ask for... belated additions to my birthday wishlist. I feel bad and greedy, so for everyone who already has decided on what gifts to spoil me with, and has already sent them, please do not spoil me further! But for those who still need ideas for packages that will arrive late, the following would be great presents: Printed pictures from the Aspen Grove reunion and other updated family photos, a camera case, new running shoes (or advice/$ on how to better get them - my shoes are 10 and 1/2 or 11 Reeboks right now), a new wallet, a new frisbee, Old Spice deoderant, and (crunchy) peanut butter! Ask and ye shall recieve, right? Just kidding! Oh, but I do have another advice request: i got a fountain pen ink spill on one of my shortsleeve white proselyting shirts, and I would love instructions on how to best remove the ink stains. Oh yeah, Mom -- I don´t have a dryer machine, so how would those instructions for the Aspen Grove shirt work with only air drying? I haven´t used it yet because I don´t want to mess it up.

Anyways. Thank you again EVERYONE for all of your great love and support! I love hearing news and all that stuff, so keep them coming! You are all great examples to me, and I love and pray for all of you!

Other news - Rachel, you know how you said you´re in a tripla? Pretty crazy, but I´m going to be in a tripla also - for three weeks. A new elder is coming in and we´ll be picking him up Thursday when we have interviews with President Torgan. He´s from Salt Lake City, I think, his dad is Brazilian, so he already speaks Portuguese, and his last name is Sagebim. So Elder Hansen will train for his remaining three weeks, and then I think I will finish it. Something like that. Crazy huh?

Oh yeah, President and Irmã Torgan are great! Really nice and fired up to work and get going! Friday Elder Hansen and I helped out with this youth conference activity thing - kind of a mix of youth conference and EFY, Portuguese version of encampamento (´Camp Out´). We and 8 other elders went out with the youth and their adult leaders and passed out 200 copies of the Book of Mormon (give or take), and it was great. Haha, a lot of the kids were amazed saying things like `Wow, this is hard! Those people dont want to talk to us at first... it´s scary talking to strangers` etc. Welcome to LIFE kiddos! Again, I am so happy I did a summer with Southwestern before starting my mission! One young woman almost hugged me in her joy of succeeding in giving away a Book of Mormon. Yikes, it was scary, but luckily didn´t happen!

Well, that´s the fun and exciting stuff... in general. Love all of you and am praying for you. Hey, incase anyone thinks they have time to ´kill´ or want to busy their kids who are able to read the scriptures, I share the invite Elder Bednar gave to us - look through the Book of Mormon and find the 6 instances where it says the phrase `one by one`. No cheating - this is only to be you and your hardcopy Book of Mormon - no computers or electronics or anything. (Nada zero zip!). Have fun! I love you!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Charged up!

Hello beloved Family!!

For a random piece of info, Carregado has a couple of meanings, including charged (like energizer bunnies... or batteries if you prefer) or loaded like the many trucks that pass through here. Anyways, I`d just like to say that it´s another great day and I´m charged up and fully loaded!

Thanks everyone for the news and emails! It sounds like Aspen Grove is yet another blast. Can ya´ll save the posters of me and Rachel? I wonder what it´d be like to see a lifesized image of yourself guarding the fridge when you´re hungry for a snack... ;) My condolences to Darrell with the broken finger. Bummer in the summer... but congradz on the volleyball! Honestly, I don´t think ya´ll would need me in the basketball. All I can do is run around and I´d probably take out the silly man who thinks he can get away with fouling my family members. But anyways, thanks again for the news and advice, and I´m excited to see all the fun pictures! Oh, and I´m going to be picking up some kind of package from the post office today, so thank you to whoever sent it!

Life is great in Carregado! I semi met President and Sister Torgan on Monday at our first zone conference with them. I´m really excited for all the work to get done with President Torgan leading the way! Boy oh boy, am I glad I have the gospel, such a great family full of examples and friends, and even doing a summer of bookselling with Southwestern! Work work work, put first things first, and get along with people! Rob you were absolutely right - I think every future missionary should do a summer with SW. Anyways, the work is moving on! The Brazilian couple we´re teaching, Iván and Soréni, are wonderful. They are coming to church, reading, and loving it all. Last night Elder Hansen and I also had an activity with several members of the branch. We did the jar lesson about time management (fitting carrots, potatoes, beans, and rice into a jar) showing that you really DO have time for everything when you put first things first, etc. When we put first things first, everything else will fall into place, and as we put God first, we can have His help and do all expedient things, feel the Spirit, and be edified every day. We also touched on that it is usually a sacrifice - ye cannot serve God and Mammon. It will often come down to you needing to choose God or other things that cannot bring you eternal joy. Then we played a game afterwards of ´do you love you neighbor´. Hehehe... fun stuff.

aHA! I have the full names! Sandra Marina Aguiar Rodrigues da Paz and her daughter Neuza Soraia Rodrigues Vieira were baptized on June 20th, 2009. Well, I love all of you and am praying for you. Keep having a fun time, and take lots of pictures! Love you all, tchau

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Greetings from Carregado!

Hello Beloved Family!

Life is great! I am now serving in the bonified area of Carregado with Elder Timothy Daniel Hansen. And alas! we´re moving apartments today and I do not have my planner with me that has Sandra and Neuza´s full names. Sorry! Next week for certain. And incase anyone is interested, the apartment address here in Carregado is:

Praceta João Álvares Fangundes
Lote 2 11ºDto

Anyways, life is great! Elder Hansen is serving his last 6 weeks and will be going home on August 7th. But I´m gonna do my best to keep helping him work his hardest, sprint to the finish, and avoid that silly disease of Trunkyitis. But shouldn´t be too hard, because he is a good Elder who has and is working hard. I´m excited to be working here - lots of work to do and challenges to rise up to! Great day great day great day!!! When I first arrived I found out that we´d be moving within a week (today) so I didn´t unpack everything. We finished moving over all of our stuff and we´re gonna get our shopping done and then clean up the apartment we´re moving out of. Busy busy busy.

Carregado is gonna be a blast! There are some good members here, they just need to get fired up! I would use Dad´s mighty battle cry (Woo-Woo!) but I´ll save it for dire circumstances. ;) We´re both in the branch presidency - Elder Hansen is 2nd counselor and I am secretary (I guess that doesn´t really count as being part of the presidency but oh well, I get to help!). Most of the members live in a town that is further away and we can only go over there every so often due to limited travel funds, but I´m sure we can make it work to go over there and work with them when we need to. The 1st counselor in the branch Presidency, Irmão António (he´s Cape Verdian!), lives near us here in Carregado, as well as a Brazilian family. Unfortunately, the step dad, Leandro, only got baptized to marry the mom, Adriana, and is a lazy bum. But Brenda, Adriana´s 16 year old daughter, has a heart of gold and the missionary zeal like no other. She´s got a little brother Samuel, who just turned 10. Good family.

Anyways, that´s about it. Question for the board (aka all you amazing family members who have greater wisdom and experience than I at firing people up): any advice? I´d love some!

Thanks Kit and Kev for those great pictures along with the news in your blog post email thing! I love my family!

K, Mom asked me if I want anything for my birthday. Honestly, I can´t think of anything I really need besides the electric razor... AND of course all of your wonderful love, support, prayers, and emails! :D If ya´ll really do feel like sending stuff, then good ol´American cereal and goodies, peanut butter, and handwritten letters never hurt. Otherwise, whatever you think I would like, especially as a missionary, seeing as the majority of you know what missionaries like to get.

Hey Mom and Dad, could ya´ll send me my other memory card that I mailed to you before? The one I have is raking in the numbers - over 700 pictures. Just wanna be safe!

To quote a wise man: `Well, I love you!` It´s true... I love ya´ll and am praying for you! Let me know about all the fun you have at Aspen Grove!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Goodbye Caldas!

Hello Dearest Family!

Alas, the time has finally come for me to be transferred from Caldas! I found out yesterday that I will be serving in Carregado with Elder Hansen. Strangely, Carregado is still a part of the Santarém district itself, but missionary-boundary wise it is part of a different zone. Weird, but oh well, if there is another district conference while I´m in Carregado I´ll get to see a bunch of the wonderful members and investigators I´ve met and served here! I truly do love serving the Lord and His children!

Well, also leaving will be the Parkers, since they have come to an honorable end of their mission service. They have been a great example to me, and I have learned a lot from working with them. And luckily Elder Bell and whoever his new companion will be are also great Elders to carry on the work here in Caldas!

Well what a great week! Sandra Paz and her daughter Neuza Viera finally got baptized, and it has been a pleasure and a joy to see their progression towards their Heavenly Father! Haha, and right after Sandra was confirmed she was called (and sustained) to be the branch primary president. Talk about hitting the ground running! Well, life is great! I hope ya´ll have a fun time at Aspen Grove, for those of you who are going. I love you and am praying for you! Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Howdy Ya´ll!

Hey everybody! It is always a treat to hear from everyone!

Happy (belated) Golden Sweet 16 Birthday to Emily!! I really do wish I could be there to chaperone you as I know you want me to, but I´ll just keep praying that all the great running you´re doing will help you out run the many boys clamoring for your attention. ;)

Thanks Joy and Grandma Turtle for inviting me to Facebook, but I am already on Facebook under my regular email of modernstriplingwarrior----. Emily, would you please take care of adding them on my Facebook for me? Thanks!

Well life is great in Caldas da Rainha! This Saturday our investigator Sandra and her 10 year old daughter Neusa will finally get baptized! It is so great to see others of God´s wonderful children progress to realize their divine potential and come closer to Him! There´s been a little bit of a squabble over whether she should be baptized at Foz do Arelho beach (like `everyone else has done´) or at the baptismal fonte in Santarém (as President Terry has directed). But all is well, and she´s gonna get baptized in Santarém! Great stuff! And Elder Bell and I hit a record for both of us in member present lessons this week (14) and overall lessons (23 total)! Anyways, I just thought I´d share some of the success and joy we´re having in working harder and harder at helping God´s children.

Today was a blast! Being probably the last P-day we´ll have to do stuff with the Parkers, we went on a castle loop and saw the castles of Tomar, Fátima (not really a castle, but hey, it´s Fátima!), Batalha, and Dom Pedro. I think that´s it. Fun stuff.

Pass on my thanks to Caitie for that great drawing she did for me - I loved it! And holy cow, Brian is such a stud in his baseball stuff! Where did my little cherub nephew go?? Well, I love all of you and am praying for you. Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Hey beloved family!

Hey everybody! It's so great to hear from all of you! This has been a great week! We had a division where I went over to Santarem with Elder Fay and helped them finish on making their own map for their area. (Hard to work at full capacity without a map.) I also worked with Elder Bezerra (his dad is a mission president in Rio de Janeiro) here in Caldas on Monday, and all in all the Lord's work is getting done! We've especially been happy to see Sandra's progress with three lessons a week up to (at least) her baptism on June 20th. Life is great!

Thanks everyone for the updates. It's cool to see how great the nieces and nephews are doing. Sadly I can't seem to see the video clips and stuff, but oh well. Thanks for the update Rob and Christa about the invitro news. God speed!

Oh yeah, today was pretty fun. Elder Bell, Christophe (our branch mission leader) and I went bowling. Yabba dabba doo! Well, I guess that's it for now. I love all ya'll and am praying for you! Fica Firme!
--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hello Family!

Hello wonderful family!!

Well today was a nice P-day. Happy belated Birthday to Elle the Puma! Holy smokes, I remember when she was the little 6/7 month old little puma at Christmas time in São Paulo. And Rachel hit her 9 month mark! AAH! I am often thinking of the Ghost of Christmas Present saying `There is never enough time to do all that we would wish.´

Well this morning we took the pictures of me in my family reunion shirt - thanks Mom and Dad for the shirt and the paçoquitas! Sorry Mom, I´m gonna have to email them next week. I hope that isnt a problem. (And cool beans about the kitchen being remodeled - does that mean ya´ll are gonna get an ice machine like the one in Houston? ;D ) So after taking said pictures we got our shopping done and then headed out with the Parkers for our zone Pday activity - we all went down to the castle in Almoural, checked out the castle, and even got some Koub in! And we made it home in time to get our email done.

So in review of the week, some cool stuff has happened. Sunday morning while in Priesthood a man called who said he wanted to meet with us. So he came by our chapel and I was able to talk to him for a while. His name is Soares and he was really nice. Elder Bell and Elder Fay (one of our zone leaders) contacted him on Thursday during a division. Anyways, it was cool that he just stopped on by! We gave him a Book of Mormon and a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. More good news is to follow, I´m sure. And life with Francisco and Sandra has made some postiive changes. Since he moved out they´ve been able to calm down and grow up a bit, and now they´re officially engaged. They´re not gonna move back together until after they´re married (Yeehaw!!) and she´ll be married on the 20 of June. Life is good! Those two have also really made friends with José and Conceição, which looks really good. Well, life is great, and God´s work is moving onward, upward, and forward! I love all of you and am praying for all ya´ll!

Oh, I just remembered. At the Almoural castle there were two or three French families/groups, and one group came to the castle right as we were leaving and we said olá and she said bonjeour (forgive my spelling if that was wrong, my beloved Frenchies). So yeah, that reminded me of my wonderful siblings that speak French! Love you!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hello Beloved Family!!

Oh, it is so great and wonderful to hear from all of you! Grandma Turtle, I think that´s hilarious that Buddy tries to sit on the chairs like a diner. That is really cool Mom and Dad about the Church being honored by the São Paulo legislature! Thanks for the picture of ya´ll and cousin Elder Zach Ellis - I love that ridiculously tall studly cousin of mine! And I´m terribly sorry for forgetting about last week to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Kit and Mama KK!! Ya´ll are wonderful!

Life is great! Elder (Christopher Lincoln) Bell and I have had a good week. Last Wednesday we had gone to Santarém to play soccer and ultimate (no injuries this time!) and then Elder Bell had to go down to Lisbon with the zone leaders for a big leadership meeting thing. And unfortunately we had to wait to do the division switch, and by the time we did there wouldn´t be another bus to Caldas until the following day. But as it turned out we would´ve needed to move those appointments anyway, so it was just frustrating. But Elder Bell and I finally got back to Caldas Friday morning and got back to work.

Our amazing investigators are doing great! José Mota and Conceição are really open and generous - they fed us and our ward mission leader dinner - and really are accepting everything so far! haha, and their friend Paulo came to Family Night last night and as we were leaving like a herd of turtles he asked along the lines of `How long does it take / what do I have to do to join the Church´? I was kinda befuddled but I think I somewhat understandably said come to church, hear the lessons, and keep going! He is leaving to work in England on a ferry for 3 months (he already speaks English and French) so we told him he could go on the church website to try and find a church building nearby where he will live. Hopefully all goes well!

Yesterday was a great zone conference - my last one with President and Irmã Terry. Then comes President and Irmã Torgan! I am so blessed to be learning so much from such great people on my mission! Well I love all ya´ll, and I pray for you. Later today I´ll be picking up a package from one `Ellis Family` so I have no clue who it´s from but I will venture a guess as to Mom and Dad and Emily. Thanks! Love you all! Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hello for May 20!

Hello everybody! It is so wonderful being a missionary! Thanks Dad, Rob, Mark, and Natalie for your emails and blog updates. Soo wonderful to hear from everyone! Hey Dad, I got your letter you wrote on May 10 (Mother's Day), on Monday May 18, just to let you know.

Well, life is wonderful! Elder Bell is yet another great missionary to work with. He is from Tulare, California, and has finally broken my Utah-boy companion streak. Not saying Utahns are bad in any way, but I think it's funny that only one out of five companions, including my MTC companion, is NOT from Utah. Anyways, he's another great, hardworking young man with a good sense of humor to top it off! He also likes to play chess, and bitter-sweetly, he's killed me at least 5 out of 7 games, so he can help me not be too rusty when I come back for the family tournaments! Ahem, all in appropriate time of course. :D

Well this week has gone well. We are so busy with people to teach that our evenings are always full, but not so many people are available during the day. But we'll find them! We had a good lesson with Sebastiao, Clemente, and their friends Adriano and Roberto. We talked about how having a testimony of the Book of Mormon means that we can also know that the Church is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet, and invited them to prayerfully ask Heavenly Father if they should be baptized, and to specifically know if this Church is true. I was disappointed that Clemente and Sebastiao were still reluctant of setting a date. I will keep praying for them to realize these truths and have the courage and faith to act with what knowledge that they have! (Their main 'excuse' was that they need to study more.) But I know this is God's work and He will provide for us to do our part His way and on His timetable!

Well, life is great. The Parkers only have a few more weeks before they go home at the end of June, so we're going to enjoy these last few P-days that we can with them. I love all of you, and am praying for you! Have a great week!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I`m staying in the Hot Springs!

Hello beloved family!

Well this week a lot has happened. On Friday we had a great zone conference, where Elder and Sister Kearon (he´s a Seventy from England) were doing part of a mission tour of our mission. Great stuff! They focused on staying up on the moral high ground which comes from keeping the commandments 100%, which is all we can really control, as well as doing our part in the conversion process, which is doing what we can to create an environment where the Spirit can come and testify to our investigators. It is so important that they feel the spirit, because they will not likely remember what we say. Great stuff! And my favorite part from zone conference, I found out that Osvaldo da Silva Calunga and his son Carlos Daniel da Silva (goes by Daniel) were baptized on schedule and both have the Aaronic Priesthood, and are doing great! That bit of news made me feel joy beyond expression.

Sunday was Mothers Day! Happy (belated) Mother´s Day to all of you wonderful mothers - Mom, Grandma Turtle, Joy, Kit, Aup, Natalie, and Laura, as well as all my wonderful aunts who get this! It was fabulous talking to Mom, Dad, and Em (who dozed off during the call! Dorminhoca!) on Sunday. I am so blessed with goodly parents who have taught me true principles, and my wonderful siblings who are such great examples, and wonderful modern technology that enables such awesome communication! Life is great!!

Well, in other news, Elder Flint is being transferred to be a zone leader in Oeiras (just like Elder Prince was... I´m noticing a pattern), and Elder Bell will come to be district leader here in Caldas. I don´t know much about him, but I´m excited to work with and learn from another great elder in the Lord´s service! Well I love you all beyond expressionable ways. Ha, I don´t even think that made sense, but I´m sure ya´ll understood anyways. Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hello Beloved Family!!

Once again, another week has come and gone! Thanks to everyone for your emails, pictures, love, prayers, and support! Uncle Kelly - I'll be using this email address until late September or October of 2010.

Sorry about last week's email having that random insertion of Mother's Day call. That was meant to be a little memo to self but I forgot to erase it before sending out the letter. Anyways, life is great here in Caldas! Some very cool things that have happened since last week's newsletter! Last Wednesday night we visited the Nunes family, they've been inactive since Joao (the husband) was released from being branch president. But we've been able to have nice visits with them, and before sharing whatever lesson or thought we have, we've helped Elizabete (the wife) with getting more acquainted with her new Windows Vista laptop. She really wants to know how to use it well so she can use the marvelous tool of email to communicate quickly and cheaply with her children who are all out of the house and around the world! Everyone knows I'm not the best when it comes to computer stuff, but I am glad I can at least help her out a bit. After the visit with them we went with the Parkers to an ex-investigator who lives a little bit out of town, and we had a great visit with him too! Thursday we had interviews with President Terry, which went well. After interviews Elder Flint and I took a bus to a spot in Rio Maior, and tried to pass by someone we ran into the week before who used to be taught by the Elders before Rio Maior was closed down and made part of Santarem's area. We walked a LOT (free exercise!) and finally found his house, but he unfortunately wasn't home. Then we had another long, long walk to the next bus station and made our way back to Caldas. Friday we helped out at Joaquim's soup kitchen, like we do every week, but afterwards we also helped our branch president move, which was fun in itself! He and his wife are now living much closer to the chapel and also in the same building as our investigators Fabio and Andreia! Fun stuff! Sunday was really cool - on our way to another lesson with the Nunes family a young man whistled at us to get out attention. He said he had two friends who live in Peniche (another town in our area) who wanted to come to church; one is a member from Germany and another is her Brazilian friend who is interested and wants to come also. I love being a missionary!! Monday and Tuesday we worked on burning the Book of Mormon (in Portuguese) onto some CDs for two of our investigators who can't read. One of them, Celio, just moved back to Brazil (Minas Gerais) with his brother and sister in law. The other, Clemente, is marked to be baptized on June 6th!

Well that's all the news from Portugal, for now. I love ya'll and am praying for you! Tchau!
-- Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April -- ´It´s Gone?!?!´

Hello beloved family!

Oh man, life is great! Thank you everybody for your updates, love and support. Mom and Dad I got your letters written around April 15 (I think) on Monday, and last week I got that Salt Lake Temple post card too. Thanks! It is so sustaining to know that I have a huge, awesome, and eternal family that loves me!

Haha, so last week on Wednesday we had gone to Santarém to enjoy our P-day and then start our division with the zone leaders. Good news is I finally got to play ultimate frisbee!! Two bits of sad news. The first being that that awesome ´holy´ frisbee that Jessica Mendin (Emily´s friend) gave me broke. I can still try and use it if I want, but a little chunk got chipped off, and I don´t know if I want to try and do surgury with duct tape or not. Luckily we had another frisbee to use. The second unfortunate part was that while playing ultimate at one point one of the zone leaders bumped into me and I took a fall. Nothing broken, but I will have another lovely scar on my elbow. Nothing to worry about!


Anyways, life is great here in Caldas! God is really helping us overcome the challenges that come our way. Franc and Sandra were going through some bumpy ways, since Satan doesn´t want them to get married so that Sandra and her daughter Neusa can get baptized, and that they can have an eternal family. Satan may be pro at what he does, but God is always better and best! We were prompted to help them and show them how to talk out and resolve their problems instead of getting angry and letting things get worse and unresolved, kind of companionship inventory style. Last night they were back to being the lovely happy couple and they were holding hands on the way home from the family night we had at the chapel! AND three of Amadeu´s sisters (he´s an inactive and these three sisters haven´t been baptized yet) came to family night and had a fun time!

Well the Church is true! I am inexplicably grateful for this joyous time in my life to tinker out my many weaknesses and imperfections so that I can be a more useful instrument in God´s mighty hands! I love you all and wish you the best of luck, and I´m still praying for all ya´ll! Love,

--Elder Ellis V

PS - thanks Natalie and Kit for those adorable pictures! Tchau!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life is Wonderful!!

Hey howdie hey beloved family!

Life is great! Some fun things have happened this week. Saturday there was a baptismal service in Tomar, an area of some other Elders in our zone, and we were able to take Fábio, one of our (very progressing) investigators to go see it! Talk about a highway adventure! The Parkers lent us their GPS (called TomTom!) which was working out very well, because Christophe, our amazing branch mission leader who was driving us, didn´t know how to get to Tomar. Quite an adventure, and despite a slight detour, as well as taking a while to find the chapel after we reached the city, we made it! Hey Dad, quick question. Is having someone say `We call _____ to enter the waters of baptism` one of those things that people can do if they want, or is it just not supposed to happen at all? The presiding church member at the baptism was a Brasilian and he did it, and I think Brasilians really get a kick out of doing it, because the ward mission leader in Seixal liked to do it too. (He is also Brasilian.) Anyways, the baptism went well, and we made the trek there and back all in one piece, and in time to have a lesson in Fábio and Andrea´s home about eternal families and temple marriages with our branch president Vicente and his wife Edna. They accepted the invitation to get legally married, so they can be baptized and have an eternal family! I LOVE THE GOSPEL!

Sunday was a missionary-work-focused sacrament meeting: Elder Flint, Christophe, and I all spoke about missionary related topics. How members can be key finders and share the gospel with their friends family and neighbors (I based it off of Elder Perry´s wonderful talk in General Conference), trying to bring back inactives, and continually preparing ourselves/themselves by studying the gospel, praying for missionary opportunities and following the spirit! Later on Sunday Elder Flint and I were able to meet with Rui, a great man who is a member but has had a fallback into drugs and other problems. The Atonement helps all people as they have the desire and motivation to exert their own best efforts to change their lives for the best!

Monday morning we picked up Elders Daley and Hibler at the bus station and went to the Parker´s for our district meeting, and met Sister Parker´s sister and brother-in-law, Br. and Sis. Mekem from Layton, Utah (or atleast somewhere nearby), who are visiting and are very nice people! Afterwards we started our division with said Elders and had a great day! Elder Daley and I were able to find some young men - Yannick and his cousin Mauro - who we hadn´t been able to meet with in a long time. We weren´t sure which floor they lived on of their building, and suddenly Yannick just came down and opened the door for us, even though we hadn´t rung his doorbell! The Lord is watching over His work and getting it done all the time!

Well, those are some of the interesting things of late. Sadly, Sebastião will be gone for work down in the Algarve (part of southern end of Portugal) for two weeks, and what´s super sad is that he´ll be missing Sandra and Neusa´s baptisms on May 2nd! The devil is sneaky... but we´re still gonna win! I love all of you and am praying for all ya´ll! Hey Rachel/Sister Ellis III - you can tell your new companion in training that I say she´s the luckiest sister missionary in the world to be trained by you! Obviously, Elders can´t be trained by you, so they are denied such opportune blessings. Have a great week everybody!

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life is great!!!

Hello Happy Family!!

Wow, that was a lot of news! Joy, good joke, you had me fooled big time. And thanks everyone for the wonderful news and pictures! Sounds like Conference Weekend was a blast! Haha, Sam is hilarious -- more pout less pose in the bathtub, and he´s already got a little blond girlfriend! And Natalie´s gonna have a girl!! At this rate the nephew-niece ratio will be even (7-7), so let´s see what Laura´s beautiful twins are gonna turn out to be! Best of luck Laura with the hypothyroidism. Thank heavens for modern medicine! And Righteous Rae -- congradz on being called as a trainer! I know the new sister missionary will be blessed being able to learn from your wonderful, fired up, hardworking example!

Well this week has been great! Two more of the Parkers´ kids came by with their spouses, and it was fun to meet them. Great people all around. Sunday was very nice - Sebastião brought his friends Célio and Valdimar again, and Joaquim, and Maria Olímpia came to Church by themselves! Joaquim is the saintly man who owns/rents the soup kitchen we give service at every Friday. He is a cousin of two active members and had already been taught the lessons before, but it was great to see him at Church and hopefully we can start anew! Maria Olímpia is a less active lady we´ve passed by a few times, but she had been busy and wasn´t able to talk with us. But she came to church on Sunday, and she came to the Family Home Evening last night! Cool!

Monday we did a division with Elders Daley and Hibler, and I was pleasantly surprised with 6 letters that had been sent to the office or to my old address in Seixal. 2 of those letters included one from Mom, Dad, and Em (complete with awesome picture from Emily! ... and waterslide!;) and from Sister Ellis III in Cuiabá Brasil!! Mail is good stuff. Anyways, the division went well, and we were able to help out the Elders get the ball rolling a little more. And todaywe had another fun zone p-day activity. We met with the assistants and the other elders of the zone and went to Montejunto to hike up to the top of the small mountain and had a nice mini lesson from Elder Parker (great retired seminary teacher that he is) about the pioneers´ sacrificing so much, paying the price to ´become acquainted with God´. Despite rain, and two of my clutzy slips, we had fun! We´ll be staying here in Santarém to work a bit and we´re having a zone meeting (mini zone conference sorta thing) tomorrow. I love all of you and thank you for your love, prayers, and support! I´m praying for all ya´ll! Tchau!
--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I like life, life likes me...

Hello Beloved Family!

Haha, it was pretty funny last week having much fewer emails, but I´m sure General Conference is a valid cause for the delay of emails. And better late than never, right? Thanks everyone for the news and updates!

Mark - I can´t promise you that sling shot, but we´ll see. What was all that delegation stuff?

Rob - infelizmente, a área de Peniche foi fechado e agora está incluido na minha área Caldas da Rainha. But press forward!

Joy - thanks for the update. D-day was indeed a day of great sacrifice... I´m glad I don´t have to worry about the death of the body! That´s good news about Darrell being called as a bishop and you being the seminary supervisor. Best of luck, I know ya´ll will serve well!

Kit - adorable story about Ryn and Elle. Quite the insight into the Atonement, ´out of the mouth of babes´ about saving the repentent.

Em - nice drawing. ´FOFINHA!!` ;)

Rachel - wonderful update as usual! Keep it up Righteous Rae!

Alrighty. Well, General Conference was great. Our branch chapel was designated as the spot to watch Conference for the district, and the Parkers brought their laptop and we watched off of it in English in the classroom where we have gospel principles and English class. Unfortunately though, I didn´t get to see the Priesthood session. But it was great! I loved the strong emphasis throughout the Conference on Temples, eternal marriage, the blessings of being guided by living and modern prophets and apostles, and living the gospel despite adversity. Our superstar investigators - Sebastião, and his nephew Fábio, and Andrea (Fábio´s girlfriend) were there for most if not all of the sessions. Incredible!! Like Mom, one of my favorite talks was Elder Holland´s on Christ fulfilling the Atonement for us, so we don´t have to be alone, but instead can have everlasting joy with our Father in Heaven and our eternal families!! Great stuff.

In between sessions on Sunday Elder Flint, Christophe (our amazing branch mission leader) and I went to the home of former branch president João Carlos Nunes and is wife Elizabete. We invited them to come to even just 15 minutes of Conference but they declined, and Elizabete said it isn´t worth it for us to keep trying to help them come back. But it IS!! I felt to some degree a part of the sadness that Heavenly Father must feel when His children turn away from Him. Elizabete pretty much is the cause for their having gone inactive and basically is holding back Pres. Nunes from coming back, since he really wants to. But we won´t give up! And I am so grateful to learn from these experiences - I know for certain my future wife will be a stalwart saint who knows her divine potential and will never turn away from her Father in Heaven!

Well I love all of you. Keep up the good work all of you! Tchau!
--Elder Ellis V
ps - the above letters stand for Consecrated Missionary, Servo Bom e Fiel (Good and Faithful servant), Faith Diligence Patience (wonderful Mom came up with that one!) and Strength and Honor!! (Go Rob!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Meanwhile in the Hot Springs...

Hello everybody!!

Thanks Kit and Nat for those great pictures of your adorable children! Glad to hear everything is well with all ya´ll! Life is great here in Caldas! Transfers are coming and going, and I will be blessed with another six weeks serving here in Caldas with Elder Flint. Life is great! I just need to keep staying fired up and really utilize the wonderful opportunities and time that God has given me here. Holy cow, Abby Hogan is home already?! Yikes! Time is always flying by!!

Well yesterday I had the pleasant surprise of receiving a little Easter package from Mom and Dad and Em - my beloved Charge bars and Brazilian Easter egg! I was elated, to say the least, and shared the chocolate manna goodness with Elder Flint. Not all of it, just two of the 4 charge bars. THANK YOU MOM DAD AND EM!!

In other news, Saturday morning we went to a branch picnic activity, and that was pretty fun. One of Elder and Sister Parker´s daughters and sons-in-law came to visit and were here in Caldas from about Thursday to Monday, and I´m sure they had a fun time. So at the picnic we played a bit of the Parker´s coub set, and tossed the frisbee around and kicked the soccer ball around too, particularly with Alexandre (7), Neusa (9) and Diogo (~4), the kids that showed up. Then we had a big lunch, cleaned up and headed back to Caldas and work!

It´s funny that you mentioned SW Rachel, cuz for about two weeks or more now Elder Flint and I have been enjoying cold showers! The water heater stopped working, and the man we called up to fix it has taken his time. But Elder Flint and I have grown in our appreciation of hot water while we get fired up for the day with steaming hot ... cold... showers to get our blood pumping and heart rate going like no other! And ´that which does not kill me only makes me stronger,´ right? Amen Rachel, SW is the best mission prep!

Elder Flint and I have really been enoying working with Sebastião, Marcos, and Fábio & Andrea, the elect of our ´Brasilian bunch´. Sebastião and Marcos have separately expressed their desires to be baptized when they´re ready (they don´t have a set date yet), and Fábio and Andrea have enjoyed the two visits we´ve specifically had with them, teaching them the Restoration and watching the Restoration DVD. We are excited to talk to them about how families can be together for eternity, including theirs!

Well today was a fun Preparation day. We met with the other Elders of our district again and had lunch at the Parkers´, and then went to the town/castle of Óbidos, where the old castle wall envelopes most of the town. I saw a lot of souvenir stuff, aprons, wooden swords, tile drawings, even sling shots, that made me think of my wonderful family. Sadly, I make no promises of souvenir gifts due to lack of and limited mulah and space/weight.

Well I love all of you, and am so happy to hear good news from ya´ll when it comes! Stay strong!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I love Brazilians yes I do!

Hello wonderful family!

Great to hear from ya´ll! Hey John, did I tell you Elder Parker has the same birthday as you? Good to hear good news from everybody! Sounds like General Conference week/weekend is going to be a blast! Lucky Emiliy gets to go up too! Have fun everybody!

Well another great week in the Queen´s Hot Springs has flown by! The work is going forward. Elder Flint and I have been able to pass by a lot of people we have listed as inactives and potential or ex-investigators. The really great stuff has been with the Brazilians, particularly Sebastião. On Sunday he brought his nephew Fábio, Fábio´s girlfriend Andrea and their baby boy. They´re not married yet but they already said they´re planning on it! They really liked chruch, and Fábio came with Sebastião and 3 other friends to Family Home Evening last night. Marcos also came, another Brazilian investigator who had been traveling at home in Brazil but came back about a week and a half ago. He came to English class, we had a lesson with him on Sunday evening, and then he came to Family Night. Also we stopped by Amadeu´s house and walked with him and his 15 year old brother Daví to family night (if Rachel can think of potentials for Emily then so can I!). The room was really packed but everyone had a great time. We introduced Four Corners, and not everyone grasped the whole concept since it was crowded and noisey, but it was still simple and fun.

Well, life is great! I love all ya´ll and am looking forward to hearing more great news from ya´ll! tchau!

--Elder Ellis

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I love life!

Hello dearest and greatest family!!

Oh BOY life is awesome! I´ve got the gospel blessing my life, I have a wonderful ginormous family, and I have the sacred opportunity to share the eternal joys of the restored gospel with others! And it´s only gonna keep on getting better!

Thanks Mom for clearing up my inbox. And thanks again to everyone for the great news updates. LAURA I am so happy ya´ll are having twins!! Holy Cow!! 3 new adorable nieces/nephews bakin in the ovens. I love being an uncle!!

As far as I have seen Rachel, there aren´t any awesome Easter eggs being stocked on the shelves, I don´t know if they´re as big or sweet a deal here. Triste... I will miss those big Charge Easter Eggs from Brazil. But it´s great to hear everything´s going well!

Oh yeah, I don´t remember if I already thanked you Kit for sending those drawings that Ryn and Elle made for me, and that adorable picture of your 3 little angels in the home made heart frame. Thank you! And if I already thanked you, Thanks again! (It´s hard to be too grateful, right?) And Mom and Dad I received another batch of hand written letters from ya´ll on Monday. Thanks!

Ahem, sorry for my scatterbrained-ness. Life is awesome! Yesterday I and the other American missionaries who came in with me did the bigger and longer part 2 of renewing our visas which should last us the rest of our missions. Yeehaw, it´s good being legal and not having more long trips and waits to look forward to! Today we are going to Santarém right after this email session to have a lunch and games with the other missionaries of our zone, and we should be back in time to get the other essentials (grocery shopping, cleaning, etc) done and taken care of. Maybe I´ll be able to finally play some ultimate!!

Well this past week has been interesting. Two times of taking an hour and a half bus ride into Lisbon to renew my visa, two divisions, and lots of trying to find some inactives and ex-/potential investigators. But the Lord´s work is moving on! Last night during our branch´s family home evening someone called us who was listed in the phone as an investigator but niether Elder Flint nor I have met him. Anyways he called us up and said he wanted to meet us at our English class on Thursday night. Cool!

In other news, we´ve been teaching a group of Brazilians who I personally think of as ´the Brazilian Bunch´. Sebastião and his friend Adriano and Adriano´s wife Sonia and probly Sebastião´s nephew Renilson live on the first floor of this one building, and Clemente (Sebastião´s brother) lives in the floor above them, his son Nilton lives somewhere nearby, and they´ve also got 4 other friends that live nearby too. They´re awesome! We´ve about taught all of them by now a bit about the Restoration and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, we´ve read with them a bit and invited them to try Moroni´s Promise. Sebastião has come to Church twice and Family Night once, and Renilson has come to English class twice. They´re all very open, friendly, and interested... I love ´em all!

Anyways... that´s a bit of news from my end. I hope to keep on hearing/reading wonderful updates from all ya´ll and I´m keeping ya´ll in my prayers! Tchau!

--Elder Ellis

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hello Beloved Family!!

Well it’s nice to know we’re not getting scammed. Thank heavens for the gift of discernment!! Natalie and Kit – thanks for the pictures! Little Eden is beautiful, and it is always great to see pictures of Matt, Natalie, Brazil, and the family (including Adelia)!

Well life is great here in Caldas! Today most likely I will have to go in and renew my visa. Luckily it’ll last for the rest of the mission! But a little review… this past week Elder Flint and I were able to get 20 lessons in again. Yay!! Thank heavens for prepared people and member missionaries! Christophe is a stud – he is the branch mission leader and helps us out a ton! We had zone conference Monday which went great also. Haha, unfortunately though I had forgotten my notebook at home that had my talk notes and I also use it to take other notes, and lo and behold I was selected to give a talk on having the faith to find! Well, I was still able to remember the two main scriptural examples I wanted to use – Ammon (Alma 17:13-14) and Alma the younger (Alma 31:30-38). Great is the Lord’s work that we have undertaken, and may we be strengthened and comforted in Christ to bring our brethren again unto God in and through Christ! There was also a good friend of the Terry’s who was visiting with some of his family, and he spoke to us a bit and gave us 3 commitments for our own lives: 1) become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live His gospel, 2) invite the Spirit into our companionships so we can do the Lord’s work the Lord’s way, and 3) live temple worthy and temple active lives and always have a recommend! I also learned a lot from what President Terry shared with us, on how we need to be valiant and faithful in every detail to be worthy and ready for the Lord’s help and preservation, like the 2000 stripling warriors.

I love ya’ll! I can’t say it enough! Thanks for all of your support, emails, letters, pictures, etc. Fica firme! Love,

--Elder Ellis V

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Prep day in Caldas #2

Hellooo awesome family!!

Holy cow! I was suprised to have an inbox full of great emails! 20!! But alas, my inbox is also starting to get a bit full, around 69% or so, so I would also be greatly indebted to anyone who would get on my lds email and clear up some space, starting from the back, copying over or printing and then deleting... thanks!!

Whoo-hoo! Way to go Joy!! That is awesome you did your half marathon! I wish I could´ve been there to have the Chariots of fire and Eye of the Tiger music goin for you. Great job!

Thanks Kit and Aup for the lovely pictures. Such beautiful nieces!!

Whew, what a busy Preparation Day! Elder FLINT (Elder and Irmã Parker are the awesome casal here, Elder Flint is my companion with same first name) and I blitzed on our grocery shopping first thing in the morning so we could be on time to have lunch with the Parkers at Irmã Dolores, the branch Relief Society Presdent, home. Food is good! Then we went over to Mafra to meet up with Elder Dean and Elder Peterson and went through the National Palace there. Cool stuff! Unfortunately we ended up taking a bit longer than planned, so we made it back to squeeze in our email time before our first teaching appointment this evening.

Ah, Life is amazing!! What can I say more? Monday after district meeting we had divisions here in Caldas with our zone leaders, Elder Oliveira from Brasil and Elder Fay from Massachussetts (sp?). Great Elders, and great examples, and I know I always have more stuff to learn and improve on to be a better instrument in the Lord´s hands. Yesterday we had a nice busy day, especially in the evening. We had a little training we give every week on Preach My Gospel to some branch members, and then we had a FHE with them and other branch members. After that we went to a less active man´s home who had contacted Elder Flint and Elder Fay during the division. Carlos (the less active man) really wants to come back to the Church, and his wife Suzana really likes the Church but doesn´t want to get baptized because she doesn´t want to obey the Word of Wisdom (silly...), and their older daughter Rafaella is 10 and kept on looking at her children´s Book of Mormon and her dad´s copy, so it seems she likes the scriptures too! A little backtrack -- on Saturday evening we had an extra half hour or so, and prayerfully sought the guidance of the spirit. Lo and behold, we ´contacted´ a man who had been baptized a long time ago but had moved away and became inactive. But he moved back to Caldas some time ago, and he said he wants to come back to Church! I love being a missionary!! The Church is true!!

Well, those are just some tidbits... the gists of news of this week. Zone Conference is Monday, and I am looking forward for correction and instruction from President Terry and the other mission leaders! I love all ya´ll!! Take care!! And please someone clean up a bit of my inbox por favor! C VU PLAY!! (Sorry my beloved Frenchies, but I don´t know how to spell your beautiful language.) Tchau!

--Elder Ellis V