Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye Carmelo - Hello Rivera! 12/31/13

Wow! What a week this past one was for me!! So I will start out from the beginning.
So the day of Christmas eve we went to go send a video to president and to our families in the cyber. The people that were working there asked us if we wanted to dress up as Santa for a little bit and wave to people as they drove by! We told them that we could do it for our service for the week! So we each did 30 minutes dressed up as Santa! I was definitely a skinny Santa. It was HOT! Later on for Christmas Eve we got to go up to that beach area again and have a huge dinner that was basically all great meat :)

It was so nice to be able to enjoy that time with a great family that is always doing things for others and wanting us to enjoy this Christmas Season. We had permission to be out later so we were there until 1030 and it was dark enough so Ezekiel their kid lit some fire works and threw some bombs - haha little did I know that this was just a small precursor to later. So we took the taxi back to our house and went to bed. 

That didn't last long! At 11:55 pm we started hearing a few fireworks go off and by midnight it was like there was a war!!! Almost every house in the town was shooting off fireworks! We quickly hopped up onto the roof and wow that was an amazing sight!! I thought we had Spirit and lit a lot of fireworks for the 4th of July... Not even!!! I have never seen so many fireworks at one time and how loud it was too! Was a fun Christmas Eve. 

Then Christmas came and I loved being able to Skype the family! Everyone was doing really well and looking a ton different too! Needless to say that Justin looks like a mofia member, that was the biggest surprise for me! The minutes flew that I was able to talk to them but I really enjoyed it! That night we then went caroling at some old persons homes and a few members too! It was way fun to be able to sing the songs and the Old People loved it!!

Then Saturday during lunch we got a call from President. We knew that Changes were the next Monday and that probably meant one of us were leaving. Well he told us that Elder Toledo was going to train somebody again and that I was going to go to Rivera. It was a little bit of a shocker for me and at first I couldn't really believe that I was going to be leaving Carmelo. This has become my home since the MTC. Ya E Toledo was a great comp and I am definitely going to miss him a ton.

But luckily I was able to have one last baptism there in Carmelo Saturday night. And it was one that I will never forget. Mirta is 88 years old and has Alzheimer's so some things she doesn't remember but she understood the lessons and remembered a lot of it. But interestingly enough she forgot about the baptism part when we opened the door to walk down into the font, she did not want to get wet! After 15 minutes of gentle coaxing she finally got in and both Elder Toledo and I were there. He took her in his arms and I took her legs while plugging her nose and we both just dropped into the water. 

Sunday was my final day and the President of the Rama gave me 10 minutes to speak to the Rama. It was a little nerve racking to have that much time but it actually went really well. I talked about Mosiah 2:41 and how we truly are blessed in everything if we follow the commandments. And how much I enjoyed being able to serve there and ¨grow up¨ in the town of Carmelo! 

After Church we borrowed the bikes again and went around to pretty much everyone to say goodbye which was pretty hard for me and then the last house was of Eduardo who was the convert that I was able to work with him and his family the whole time. They had an awesome cake for me. 
And they also told me that when they are going to get sealed as a family that they are going to invite me! I couldn't have asked for a better way to leave them hearing about their plans of going to the temple in a year to be sealed as a family! Carmelo said goodbye to me the best possible way it could have - I love SUNSETS!  It was unreal!  The entire sky was bright yellow and orange, the photo doesn't do it justice!

Rivera is awesome though! I have only been here for one day but I have already been into Brazil and dying of the heat. Its going to be getting up to 125 degrees here and last night I woke drenched in sweat, this is going to be interesting. My new companion is from Spain, Elder Zapata! He is way awesome and we are going to have a great time here in Rivera! Elder El Bakri & I are both up in Rivera together..... so we will get to see some of each other still.

I love this work! The blessings and Miracles that come through missionary work and the Gospel of Christ are amazing! There is only one path that leads us to Eternal Life and we need to do everything we can to help others find it and do everything we can to stay on it. I know that through Christ we can stay on the path by following the commandments and his example. We can get back onto the path through repentance, and move forward with growing faith in him and trying to perfect ourselves. Love you guys and hope you have a great week! Set Goals and lets make 2014 great!! Happy New Year from Uruguay! 
                             ELDER Devashrayee
p.s. Enjoy the last of the photos from Carmelo!  Here they come from Rivera now!  (I have updated the links to the side - Lisa)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Chat --- 12/25/2013

He was invited over to a members home so he and his companion could use their computer and Skype with us.  It was a blast to see him and hear him.  He was struggling a little to come up with some of the "English" words, which we all got a chuckle over.  He is doing great!  Very warm and humid but surviving. Can't wait for his next email :)
Thank you all for your support, prayers and love - he appreciates them greatly!

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Hot Potato" teaching, Saving the Fruit of His Vineyard, and Merry CHRISTmas everyone! 12/23/13

Christmas Spirit is in the air!!! I keep hearing Christmas songs in English and I just bust out singing them on the street!! Haha and the other thing in the air is definitely the heat! It is cooking me but at least I'm not the only one that is sweating badly. 

This week has been a little slower because of so many people leaving for summer vacation with school getting out a week ago. It has been rough with people not wanting to talk to us during the `Siesta` time because to battle the heat they just sleep. But we have still been going out with confidence in the Lord. Yesterday was such a great example of how things might not go how we have them planned but the Lord always blesses. 

So we had Church and fewer people than normal went but the talks were great and as missionaries, us and the Hermanas, sang Silent Night "Noche de Paz" for the Rama!  It went really well and was a great experience for us. After we had our normal lunch we left to go to our lessons and visits. For 3 hours straight nobody answered their door. We were dying of thirst so we went back to our house to drink some water and think of what else we could do. 

We decided to call the President of our Rama, who is also a missionary with his wife, to see if he could go with us during the later hours to visit some people. He said yes so we went to the Church to wait for him. He showed up and then a member showed up who needed to talk to him real quick so he told us to wait for a sec and then he would go with us. It ended up being an hour and we really only had time to visit one family. Well that is where the Lord definitely blessed us and them. We showed up and a single mother of 6 kids was in their house. We talked outside and got to know them better. We soon found out that they hadn't been to church for 5 years because of problems that had passed earlier and HAD "0" desire to return. That desire changed and her heart was softened. We talked about how the Salvation really is personal and we can't stay offended for what others did and lose those blessings that are waiting for each of us. The Spirit was so strong. By the end of what really was a 3 person "hot potato" testimony meeting she said that she wanted to go back to church with her family! I know the Lord was aware of our efforts and waited until the end of what seemed like a "fruitless" day to bless us with the opportunity to visit this family that truly needed us. 

We truly are working in the Lord's vineyard and He is with us. I know that His Spirit and Love is with each and every one of us. We are called of God and a living Prophet to serve in these last days! Jacob 5:60, for the end truly is happening right now and we are the ones that He has called to work diligently and with faith to save all the Fruit in His Vineyard. I know that He lives and that His life was a perfect one for us to follow. He truly is our Savior and I am so grateful for His life that He lived and gave out of pure love for us and Our Heavenly Father. His Atonement is real and truly blesses us all with the opportunity to become better and live with our families at the Foot of our Father again!! Love this work and this time of year we have to remember Christ in everything we do! Have a great Christmas and BE GOOD! Don't want Santa to be giving coal!! haha :) Love you all!!
                                     ELDER Devashrayee

photos updated in the Carmelo link :)  For our Christmas Pday - our Mission President let us go to a movie - we went to Despicable Me 2.... weird watching it in Spanish.  We also went to the beach, we both wished we could go swimming, but we will be back to do that!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Guided by Leaders, Baptisms, Temple Session - a very lucky week! 12/16/13

First off, some answers to some common questions I have been getting: We do most of our own laundry by hand except for the white shirts- a member does that for us once a month usually.
We cook all our own meals except for lunches Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Lots of rice and milk, unless we splurge :)  We get about 150 bucks a month to use and it is for food, travel to meetings, stuff for our activities with the the Rama, and other things that we have to do as a Zone.  I haven't eaten anything extremely crazy yet (or at least that I know about). It has been really good actually! I have been getting a little chubby in the mid section..... not happy about that hahahaha.  Wow it has been hot down here......... sweating a ton!!! Maybe that will help the mid section. This could explain some of the mid section problems :)
Great on anything, but incredible all by itself! Doesn't last long!!!

Another Great Week!! Loved it! So we had a Conference with half the mission in Montevideo Wednesday and it went great!!! I got to see my MTC Comp Elder McRae.  Gonzalez from the 70 and his wife had a great message for us here in Uruguay! It was great to be reaffirmed that our work is going well and how we can do the work even better! I guess with some more focus on the Reactivation, some missionaries are worried about baptizing because they might go inactive after. He clarified to us all that we as missionaries are the ONLY ones that can open the doors of baptism and it is our first role. Every person has the choice to stay active and we are supposed to be a support for them in that process. Loved the Conference! 

Then we were able to do Divisions with our Zone Leaders the next day! Loved seeing other forms of teaching and it went really well!! We met a ton of people and had great lessons!! One of the Elders is actually from St Geezy- Elder Bulloch! He is an awesome missionary and it was great to be able to go out with him. 

Then Friday came. The day with another 2 baptisms!!! Niko this 9 year old kid who has been making so much progress and really has grown up a ton these past 4 months that I have been here. The other was Eduardo. He has been investigating for a long time because his wife is a member. He told us a while ago that after the surgery on his wife he would get baptized. Well the surgery went perfectly and she is healing rapidly! They also have a goal as a family to go to the temple in one year to be sealed as a family! Us and the hermana missionaries sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" at the baptism and the Spirit was so strong. Everyone there felt the power and we were reminded about the power of the family and how we really can be together for the eternities. Eduardo had the biggest smile and talked the most I have ever seen him talk! This family is amazing and I am so grateful that I could be here to see them grow closer together as a family and set that goal to be sealed! (photo included in the link under Carmelo)

And speaking of Temples... Saturday was quite the day going through the temple!! So to start off while we were going to Montevideo one of the Sisters in our Rama got sick on the bus and started shaking really bad, so we had to stop and go to the nearest hospital. She ended up being ok just had really high blood pressure. Got back on the road but we had missed our first session so we had to split the Rama up and half go earlier and the other half go later. 

Us and the Hermanas were given the 3 o clock session so we had some time to be able to go and talk with the President's Wife! What a treat that was! She had a TON of food and it was amazing! I already had my Christmas dinner I think :) She is such an awesome lady and truly does love us so much! 
Mini Marshmallow Fun at the Mission Home

After it was temple time :) It was so nice to be able to go through and have a chance to be at peace and think clearly of things that I can do better and receive answers to things in my life as well as what we can do better here in Carmelo! Definitely love being in the House of the Lord!! Even with the difficulties in arriving we had a great time and people left uplifted and fortified!! 

I know that we need that fortification in every aspect of our lives. We are constantly being tempted and attacked by the adversary. 2 Nephi 4: 27-30. We don't have time to let Satan get to us. We need to work to make ourselves better and more Christ-like every day. There is only one constant that will give us that strength to do that- turning to our Heavenly Father and Christ. 

During these times of celebration and enjoyment of the Birth of Christ we should give them a gift through trusting in them more and following Their direction for us, as well as be grateful for the Sacrifice that Christ made for EVERY single person. His love for us incredible! I know that this work is true and I am loving every minute of it!! Love you all!!!
                               ELDER Devashrayee

Monday, December 9, 2013

Santa Hats, Cool Experience = Gospel & Basketball finally come together, Pray - it is that simple! 12/9/13

First off, the haircut (from the photos last week) Elder Toledo gave me was so bad that a member just pulled out her little buzzer and just about shaved me bald!  Very nice of her :) Easier to take care of and cooler in this heat - but which is worse? You tell me, I have sent photos.

Well we had another great week!! There is never a dull moment with Elder Toledo and I. He is hilarious and such a good missionary too! We have fun and are able to convert the energy to others and invite the Spirit too. I love teaching with him and he is definitely a great comp! Haha we bought little Christmas hats the other day and then wore them one evening walking over to the Church for a meeting. The looks and laughs we got were great! Almost every person who saw us said something nice and left with a smile! I enjoyed being a "Flaco Papa Noel!" (Skinny Santa Claus) But we have been able to meet so many people these past few weeks and just give them a simple invitation. It is our role as missionaries. Invite and Help others come unto Christ. 
   Our  Birthday & Thanksgiving Feast (thanks Mom for the extra money to splurge with) 
and our Santa Hats :)  Great Burgers -  but it wasn't turkey!

We had a really cool experience and of course to have a REALLY cool experience it needs to include the Gospel and Basketball!! Haha Yep the day finally came when Basketball played a part! We were riding on our bikes again to go around to some of the less actives that live farther away and we passed this little fetcher playing some ball solo in front of his house. I looked at him playing longingly and once we had passed him I had a feeling that we should go back and play but in my head I was telling myself, "Is this feeling just me really wanting to go play again (especially after hearing that Brighton and the Bball season has started up again) or is this something different that I am feeling". Elder Toledo then turned to me and said in his English "I know you want to go play" and then said that he felt we should go too. So we went back and played on the 8 foot mini hoop (better than nothing) and this chico was good too! He also got to dunk for his first time with a little boost up :) He was stoked! After we asked if his parents were there and he went and got his mom. She came out and said that she saw us playing and was really grateful for our time with him and she will bring him over for our sports night. 

We are going to go visit them again this week and I don't know if something will happen or not, but there was a good experience planted and they were able to 'meet the church' and know that we are there and really just trying to serve and do good works! That is something that I have learned. It doesn't have to be a huge miracle that the Spirit whispers to us. EVERYTHING good is of the Lord and the way the Spirit works is always good whether it be a little wave, cleaning a yard, or playing some ball with a kid! 

Yesterday we were able to have President Smith come to our Rama to do interviews for the temple. The branch here in Carmelo has planned this next Saturday a trip to the temple, and after all the interviews President gave us permission to go with our Rama!!! "There is no way that I could keep you two missionaries here from going with your Rama!" Way excited to be able to go the Temple this week!! And this upcoming week is going to be great! We have a Conference with Walter Gonzalez de la 70, baptisms Friday, and the temple Saturday!!! I will let you know how it all goes! 

I have two scriptures this week from D&C chapter 10 that were both really powerful to me. Verses 5 and 33. The power of prayer really is amazing and is what we have to keep us on the path. Satan is out in full force to try and tear us down, especially through our testimonies. He wants us to stumble, doubt what we have, and leave that Rock of Christ that we have built on. He doesn't want us to be a part of this work in the last days and is trying with everything he has to make us fall. I know that through sincere prayer we WILL overcome him and only strengthen our testimony of our Heavenly Father and prayer. I know that he really does listen to us and answers our prayers. He is waiting there to hear from us and bless us. Pray! It is a simple request he has asked us because he truly does love us. We receive blessings, answers, guidance, comfort through praying, why not do it? I am loving the work and truly appreciate all the support and love you have given me!! Have a great week and lets start up that Christmas Spirit!
                                           ELDER Devashrayee

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thankfulness, Iron Rod Activity, and Meekness 12/1/13

First off, hope all had a great Thanksgiving! Hope everyone thought of their many blessings and talents they have been given. I missed not celebrating it down here, the food was definitely missed!  I was explaining Black Friday to a member down here..... SO funny to see her reaction to what we do and suffer through to buy things..... gotta love the good ol Viernes Negro! Missed it this year!!!

Well the heat has officially hit here in Carmelo! Faaaa it has been cookin!! But what a great week of work we had!! Elder Toledo is such a funny guy and has so much animation and love for the work!! Every moment with him is a good moment! We are trying to work out the cleaning part :) Haha 

So we were planning for the Iron Rod activity this past week and inviting everyone we see to the event. Friday came around and we put up the rope through the whole church along with obstacles. Those that came we blind folded and then had two people leading them, one trying to deceive and the other trying to lead! It was so fun to be able to do that and see them try and figure out which voice was the good one at the beginning, even if meant running into a wall or something :) 

We made a little tree at the end of the ¨rod¨ along with a little chocolate ornament to represent the fruit. Elder Toledo and I dressed up in all white to accept them at the tree!! Our President then explained the dream and what everything represented!! For the 35 people that came it was such a great activity!!! 
                                  The "Tree of Life" with the Sisters

Then Sunday We had Fast and Testimony Meeting. The Testimony session was extremely powerful with the Spirit and one of our investigators, Julieta bore her testimony and WOW how strong it was! Everyone was still and so intently listening. The members are growing closer together along with Christ and it is seen in their faces, actions, and testimonies! 

The work has been going really well with service still. Every Saturday we have something to do and it is becoming something that those outside of the church are seeing! We were mentioned in the newspaper here for our contribution in the plaza nearby and how we fixed up us ¨Mormones¨! There is a picture of Elder Nord and the Hermanas and then a list of the names of everyone who came to help!!! Service really does go a long way and is what Christ always did! 

This past week I also had great studies of one topic for each personal study day. I studied Meek. I read D&C 1:23 and it made me want to figure out what it meant by ¨weak¨. It lead me to a full week of scripture chasing and pondering. I have a few of those scriptures and it was very interesting to study them and apply meekness to them. Helaman 3:35 Mosiah 3:19 Ether 12:27 and Moroni 8:26. Meekness truly is one of the greatest characteristic of Christ and leads to every other attribute that we might want from him. 

I know that Christ is our Savior and truly is the perfect example for us to follow and develop those characteristics. This church is His church and he is leading us through the modern day prophets we have. They speak his words so that we can understand the direction. I know that this church is true and everyone is a Child of God and it doesn't matter what anyone has done, He still loves us perfectly. The Atonement of Christ is truly a blessing in our life and we have the chance to better ourselves every day and every time we turn to Christ in Meekness we can be forgiven and receive strength. Miss you all a ton, but I am loving the work here in Uruguay! Thank you for all your support and prayers! They are felt here and give me strength! Love you all and have a great week!! :)
                           ELDER Devashrayee

Did add more photos he sent this week :)  Beautiful Country!