Mission Slideshow

Monday, October 31, 2011

Week #29 - "Dear Dad, Remember when I was a kid...

...you always told me if my head wasn't attached to my shoulders I'd lose it? Well ... "

If you have ever heard that a mission is a lot of work, you've heard right!! These last two weeks have been quite the ride and we are really seeing the fruits of our labors now. Let me explain. In my district there is an area called Lagoa Verde. For about a year it has become a death trap for missionaries. No one wants to listen or talk in this area. No one will read the Book of Mormon and the missionaries just get grabbed down into the depths. Well with this new transfer we have really been focusing on being more obedient, listening to the spirit and planning. Well, that area has grown HUGE in the past two weeks !!! They have many new people to teach and they are going to work way more this next week. I am so excited for them. On top of that our area has also exploded because of the new things we are doing. My companion is an excellent teacher and I am the planner. We are always working. ALWAYS!!!! I am soooo tired. However nine people here have committed to be baptized and we have many more that are progressing.

The only time we aren't working is when we are waiting in our house for the rain to stop. This week rained a ton again. I have some pictures of the road becoming a river. It is actually quite impressive. We were only about 2 blocks from our house yesterday when I noticed the incoming clouds. I stopped my companion and explained what would happen. He left the decision up to me and I hesitated for 3 minutes or so. Bad idea. You learn to make a decision and act quickly here because 3 minutes hesitation means getting caught in crazy wind and rain. As we ran to our house I gave up my fight with the umbrella, closed it and ran head on. My companion was more patient as he walked with his umbrella singing the whole way. We arrived soaked but happy!! We were even more excited when we found the house without power again. It was great. I am not being sarcastic. Seriously we felt pretty darn good. We had good numbers and church was amazing. So we rested a bit and studied until the rain subsided. Then we ventured out again and taught some wonderful lessons.

This is the water that collects in the alley outside our house. It runs down the ally to the street, to a creek and then to the Amazon river. This is why the river always looks dirty, cause it is!

This is a picture of the street outside our house after about 5 minute of raining - it's a RIVER!

Particularly I want to to talk to you guys about a Monday night family home evening we had with the bishop of the Mauazinho Ward. We invited 3 families to come with us and two of them came!!! Albino and his family and the family of Renato and Josieli. It was amazing. When we picked up Renato and Josieli, they were all dressed up nice, and their two little girls were so freaking cute. I was so happy I wanted to just explode (yes it is an odd sensation). The spirit was so strong there as we watched a film about the life of Christ. Everyone shared their favorite New Testament story of Christ and it was fantastic. ALSO!! This week we finally got the papers to do Renato and Josielis Wedding, and this week we should get Albinos papers for his wedding too!!!!!!! I am soooooo freaking excited!!!! (it's very expensive to get married in Brazil and even more expensive to get divorced. In order for people that are living together to get baptised, they need to get married...)

We also had interviews with the president this week. This interview was fantastic. The president really is an inspired man. HE really helped me understand what kind of missionary I need to be. It was really funny that he asked me if I needed anything. I said a cellphone because we haven't had one in 4 months!!! He responded " Well, why have you not bought one then?" I was taken back. We have a rule that we are not allowed to buy our own phone. " I can do that?" He said "Yes!! If you NEED one then buy one. Go. Get outta here. Go find Elder Novais ( the Missionary in charge of the mission funds) and go buy a phone right now!" Well I left and tried to do just that. But as it turns out Elder Novais had already left and I couldn't. Well I thought if i need one, I will get one, just as the president instructed. I went and bought a sim card and I am currently borrowing a cellphone from a member until tomorrow when I get a mission owned phone. I think it would be good for you to know that the cellphone companies here are not at all the same. Everything here is prepaid and no one has a cellphone plan. To buy a nice phone like an iPhone, you have to buy it straight up for Lots O' Money. Then when you buy cellphone credit, it becomes really complicated on who you can call, depending on what provider they have and what kind of credit you are using. Man! I had my companion deal with it all for me because I just did not get it. I feel very blessed now that I had an iPhone back home with a wonderfully simple contract and good cell service. Cell credit is EXPENSIVE here.

We found a new family to teach this week. They are Heliton and Maria. We pass in front of there house almost every other day, and I finally had the courage to talk to them. They are amazing! They immediately accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon and they are very spiritual. Maria actually told me that " When I saw you passing by with that other missionary (Soelberg), I always thought you were hiking off into the forest to find a hill and pray for the people." She is a very special woman. My heart grieves for them though. I wrote a huge passage in my journal about them but I still want to tell you about their house. This house is about 12 by 12 feet and sits about 3 to 4 feet off the ground on wooden stilts. It stands in a floodplain of a creek, that during the rainy season, which is starting now, floods 2 to 10 feet depending on the year. The entire house is made out of thin, very old looking planks of wood that have been nailed together just enough to provide walls, a floor and a roof. However there are many gaps. On the side of the house is a small patio that is also raised off the ground and it is here where they have build stairs to climb up to reach the door. However, the bottom rail is broken. The entire house is not exactly standing straight but is actually slanted. It looks like just the slightest wind will be about its end. The inside has just one half wall, which is completed by an orange bed sheet hanging from the ceiling. They have only a bed for themselves, an old rack for clothes, a small gas stove and a very old fridge. I love this family but I sometimes just cannot take it. I feel terrible for their situation. They asked me the other day to pray for them that they could find a way to get construction materials to raise the house before the rain really comes, or else they might end up living inside the flood waters. Despite all of this they are always smiling and so happy. In fact they were the first people to show up to church. Before every ward member and even before us. We walked by and found them sitting our front of the gate. So we opened it and let them in, because we had to go pass by and pick up a few other people. The ward welcomed them with open arms and it was a miracle to watch as every seemed to greet them. The same thing happened with Renato and Josieli, who FINALLY came to church. And it was perfect.

CHURCH WAS PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was the primary presentation, which means that the kids of the ward presented everything they had learned that past year! It was wonderful. I have never ever ever ever ever been in such a fantastic performance. To watch little kids speak so strongly of their savior and of the prophets, I almost cried. I was sitting with Renato and Josieli during the performance and the ward let their little girl Alessandra have a part in the presentation. She got to say the 2nd principle of the gospel: repentance. I must have been gleaming because I was so freaking happy I could have died right there. We had 9 investigators at church. One of them we actually had never taught him before. He lives in a house close to another person we are teaching and one day he asked when church was. We told him and he asked us to pick him up. So we did, and he really liked it.

I love being here. I love working my tail off.
Tell Zach Collier he needs to stop complaining about walking everywhere and man up!! HAHAHA.
I love this gospel. I KNOW that I am a servant of the Lord and His true church. Sometimes people find that offensive that We believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only church with the fullness of the gospel of Christ. If you are, I am sorry. But I cannot deny this truth I have come to know.
Always, I invite anyone who likes, or does not like to read this blog letter thingy, to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. I can promise you from the bottom of my soul that it IS holy scripture, written by Gods chosen prophets and translated by the power of God through is prophet Joseph Smith. It is a true and correct book that will bring you happiness and can help you find ALL the wonderful blessing God and his Son have waiting for you. God will respond to all who read with "real intent", a "Sincere Heart", and " Faith in Christ", that this book is true.

Eu amo voçês
Elder Asa Laws

Photos from Oct in the Amazon

Asa's new companion!

He's a native Brazilian

Other awesome Brazilian Elders in Asa's District

What a challenge!!

The Elders playing after the district meeting. They must not be busy enough...

Wow what a service project!!

He is taking this pretty seriously...

So Asa has this thing for taking pictures of the clouds in the Amazon because they form so fast and look so cool.

Studying by candle light. We lose power very often...
This is the Opera Hall in Manaus - very pretty building!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week #28 - "Remember General! Lots of Buttermilk!"

The following has been translated from Portuguese into English for the sake of the audience. It is an account of one day on the mission of Elder Asa Laws. The author (Elder Laws) has chosen to take small creative license to help convey the full emotion of the story. However, all events and people are true and real. He also hopes that this will be read out loud with a British accent to better illustrate the scenes taking place (just kidding). Please, enjoy!

Early one bright Tuesday morning in the month of October, the year 2011, a young and refreshed Elder Laws rose from his bed. He had slept quite well that night because of the wonderful air conditioner that sat just above him at the foot of his bed. He rose quickly and then fell back down to the mercy of the sheets and soft pillow. "Why?" he thought, " should I get up so early if I cannot even use the shower?" His companion for the last 24 hours, had risen from his slumber faster than he, and thus had grabbed the first chance to use the shower. "Back to bed," was the following line of thought he had.

But he could not sleep again. Too much was about to occur that day. No, sleep was no longer an option. Elder Laws then arose much slower this time, and decided to try to accomplish something. So a morning prayer would be the start of the day and then "Shirt," was the first word to come to mind, as that early in the morning one word thoughts are much easier to handle. He would iron the shirt first. Grabbing it from the end of the bed were he had placed it the previous night, he stood, invested the location of his flip-flops, put them on, and then walked from his fantastically cold, comfortable, aitr-conditioned room into the boiling sunny morning. "Sunny," was the next word to pass by his thoughts.

The young Elder prepared his shirt with a quick effort and placed it with his black dress pants, which because of the sun were no longer real black. Really, they were more of a fake black that says " I was not expecting this amount of light exposure during my life as pants." The tie for the day was also relocated from the refrigerated bedroom to the kitchen/ study room. The days wardrobe had all been accounted for. By this time the Elder was able to use the shower.

The shower was quick and quite cold; just enough time to clean all the hard spots and wake up past the "one word" stage of the morning. A quick shave, hair check, and brush of the teeth. Done. Elder Laws completed his morning bathroom routine, and quickly reminded himself in the mirror " Today is the day. You can do this."

What made this day so different for the 6 month fresh missionary was 2 very large facts that he had learned the day before. Fact 1: He was to have a new Brazilian companion. Fact 2: He was now to lead a group, or district of Elders, ALL of which are Brazilian. He had another one word thought. "How?" This was followed quickly by the word "Why?". How was he to deal with these other Elders? What type of leader would he be? Could he even speak well enough to help them? Will his new companion like him? Will he want to work or just sit around? An ocean of doubt began to fill his mind and he thought that maybe trying to sleep again would be a better option. "Retire the day at dawn, and give it up to the enemy".

Elder Laws saw his temporary companion begin to suit up and thought, " I got this. I can speak, walk, and run if required. I got this." With regular pace the missionary uniform was again put on by the Elder. Pants first, shirt, socks, tie, name tag, pen, shoes. The backpack was then prepared and placed in its proper place-- his back. " No, the enemy will not have the day." Another prayer was said and leaving the chilled tauntings behind in the house, the day began.

The number 213 bus was caught and used by the two Elders, however comfort was not to be had. This particular bus on this particular day had also been chosen by a squadron of other car-less people and for the majority of the ride, Elder Laws rode with someone else's butt in his face. Sadly, he had chosen to sit down before knowing that many, many others would chose to stand right next to and in front of him. Thoughts of his family always seemed to pass through his mind on the bus. This day was no exception. They helped him remember why he was enduring these cramped situations in a foreign country. Thoughts of downtown Portland on his birthday and Friday night "Halo" with his brother were comforting. Annoying his sister by sitting on her was even better and definetly the thoughts of the other sister singing to herself all over the house. These thoughts were perfect to distract from the 50 others on the bus.

The time passed quickly and soon the Elders had arrived at their stop. Elder Laws and his companion pushed their way out and quickly crossed the street. They had arrived at the mission staff building, which existed on the opposite side of the city from their home.

" Come on," was excliamed by Elder Laws' temporary companion. " Lets beat the crowd."

" Sounds good to me. I want to find out who my new companion is now." At this point, Elder Laws had yet to find out the name of his companion. He was quite bothered by this. How could he find someone without their name?

"Laws. His name is Carmo," said a random Elder standing near by.

"What?" He looked around wondering where the origin of the sentence was coming from.

"Hey, over here. Candido. His name is Carmo," stated Elder Candido.

"Oh. Thanks," said Elder Laws quickly, as he was slightly taken aback that Elder Candido knew what he was thinking. " Wait, where is he?"

" Don't know. Look around," Elder Candido said as he ran off with papers in hand to save another Elder.

At this point, Elder Laws was still okay. He took some breaths, greeted some friends and began his awkward chest staring search in order to find a name tag with "Carmo."

It was not long until the name was found. "Carmo Santos" it read. He looked up. There before him was the Elder. Elder Carmo Santos from Bahia, Brazil. He was short, strong and dark. Real dark. He shirt was ironed and prepared with care and his luggage was packed tightly into just one bag and backpack. But he had a giant smile on his face that had a different, happy to be here look. HE was there to work. "This is going to be a good 6 weeks," was the thought of Elder Laws at that moment. " This is going to be a good 6 weeks."

As you can tell, the format of this weeks letter is slightly different. Thought I'd try to be a little creative. I had a great week!!!

My new companion is Elder Carmo Santos. He is amazingly awesome. He only has 3 months on the mission which he spent in Acre, another state of Brazil. He is very excited, he loves to work, and he likes to follow the rules. Everything I need to improve on. We are going to work very well together.

One thing that I absolutely love about him is his teaching. He is a fantastic teacher. The people respond to him so well and they are always willing to accept his commitments and help. He loves sharing this message and is blessed with the spirit to do so. I am learning a lot from him. He also has a huge desire to be able to speak English!!! He can read a little bit and speak some simple phrases. We are practicing a lot. His plan is to attend BYU after the mission so English is a huge goal.

I am learning to love the scriptures even more because I only have them in Portuguese now. I sent my English ones home with Elder Soelberg to send to my parents. Man, I am learning a lot. This week has been a lot like my first week in the CTM. A lot of change, and growth. I am so blessed. As for being a district leader, its the same and totally different. I am responsible now and I have to help out another group of Elders improve too. It will be fun and challenging.

So this week we did a service project we we had to shovel into buckets and move a mountain of rock and old brick!!! It was hard work and it was in the rain! It rained a ton this week which is great because it is colder here now a little bit. Not really...

Also, one night the power and water went out and we had to take showers with the bucket and read and write by candlelight!!! I HAVE PHOTOS!!

Eu amo voçês
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week #27 - "But first, a number! C'mon boy, it's in your blood!"

Wow, what a jam packed week!!!!
First, a shout out to Travis Shriner!!! The dude sent me a letter in September and it finally made it here! Thanks brosef for the awesome letter!! Okay, so let us start with some of the craziness that happen to occur this week.
This was the last week of my companion, Elder Soelberg. In fact, as I speak (type) he is in his closing meetings before he goes home!!!! Crazy!!! I am with Elder Dorneles right now, and he is way legit.
This week it rained A LOT!!! First, it began to rain on Wednesday while me and my companion were walking to one of our appointments. So we pulled out the trusty umbrellas you sent (thanks mom) and continued on our journey. As we were walking up a hill on road 5 of Jardim Mauá, a LIGHTING BOLT struck about 200 feet in front of us!!!!! NO JOKE! It was the loudest thing I had ever heard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So bright and sooo loud. I may or may not have yelled because it was so ridiculously close! My companion just laughed for a long time because he was just taken aback. It was "shocking" (excellent pun!).
Then came crazy Friday. Friday we only really had one appointment scheduled on the far away road of João Tomé. So, while walking over there it began to rain... again. We walked almost all the way down this road (about a quarter mile down hill) and near the bottom Elder Soelberg began to walk about 10 steps ahead of me. Just as he got just far enough away someone grabbed my collar, stopping me dead and from behind began to whisper something. It was so quiet I had no idea what he said. I froze. My thoughts were " I do not know what is in his other hand that is not grabbing me. Knife? Gun? I froze and tried to listen, saying nothing to my companion as he kept walking farther (probably 5 or more steps before he noticed I was not there). Then I heard the man. " Cala boca. Eu só quero sua cámera." OR " Shut up. I just want your camera." The man then grabbed my camera and backed up. I pulled away as Elder Sopelberg returned and Soelberg walked up to me saying,
" Hey, who was he?" I said, " He stole my camera." 
Elder Soelberg then became pretty mad and tried to CHASE this guy down but to no avail. I was just calm. Honestly I was not mad or sad. I lost my camera and all my pictures that I had not emailed home yet, but I just kept thinking I was alive and that was good enough for me. It is scary when you do not know what they are saying the first time.
After this, it began to rain. HARD. A TON!!! Forrest Gump style. We quickly trotted our way over to a members house but it was to late. We were soaked. Everything from the knee down was horribly wet. We stayed at the house for about 30 mintues but it seemed that the rain would never end and our house had a window open. We had a choice to make. Brave the storm or wait it out. Naturally, we chose wrong and went for "brave the storm". I will tell you I never knew that hilly streets could become waterfalls. Cascades of water pouring over your feet. We began our journey with evasion of the water in mind and ended with defeat in our hearts and water in our shoes mainly. It was incredible! Funny enough I needed that storm to distract me from the loss of the camera. BUT, all is well. We actually contacted that house on road João Tomé and will pass by this week again!
This week the president of the mission gave everyone a "word" to study. My companions' was "gratitude". Mine, was "retribuir". To retribute. To reciprocate. To repay. To recompense.
This was difficult. Never once in the scriptures is the word to reciprocate and only a few times was any of the other words used (in english. Retribuir never appears in portuguese.) I thought to myself " how can I study a word that is not in the books I am reading?" I did what I felt was the logical thing to do. Turn to the words of Christ himself. I cannot write to you how much I am grateful for the scriptures and for the studies I had. I have learned so much here on the mission and I am so glad to be able to have so many things to guide me.
So this week we were able to use the gravy packets I have. THAT IS RIGHT! I MADE GRAVY AND POTATOS. Really what happened is we went to a part member home on the military base (Clark and Helena) and they invited us over to have american food. I was to bring the gravy and we would have steaks, potatos, and gravy! So, we did just that. I made gravy, Elder Soelberg made potatos and the member made steak. IT WAS AMAZING. Gravy is possibley the greatest thing ever, period! I lovest every bite. I had photos but they were taken in my camera. But trust me that it was amazing.
KITTEN UPDATE!! Remember that week where we had kittens born in our house? Well they are doing great. I see them every once and a while. However, our neighbors dog did get one of them. Now, there are only 5 kittens. YET! a new cat has decided to live on our doorstep (literally). It is a little black kitten that I named francis. Very cute. And annoying since I cannot keep it.
Interesting Story! So we are teaching a wonderful family; Silvestre and Kat. They have really been making progress as of late and one day they brought up they wanted to mark a date for marriage and to be baptized. It was amazing!!! However my companion noticed a strange thing. "Your dog looks like he is going to die," he said. An odd comment in a great moment about marriage. They responded that he had been very sick and was doing poorly. I shrugged it off and then marked a day for their marriage. I did not know that as that was happening my companion watched as the dog had a short seizure, and then actually died!!! In the middle of our lesson!! I was shocked and horrified! Yet they shurgged it off, kind of laughed and then we moved on. My companion then discussed baptism and marked a date for that as well, but I was still so taken back by the dead dog. They were totally fine that he had died! What a different world.
The ward here also had a small lunch party for my companion to send him off. It was on saturday and they had great food there. However during the prayer on the food, instead of saying Elder Soelbergs name, and thanking Heavenly father for sending him here, she said my name and asked that I return home in safety. Just a funny moment. I love the people here. They are just fantastic.
I have news for you all though!! This week is transfers!!! I am receiving a Brazilian companion. I do not know his name, just that he is brazilian! AND................. I am now a district leader. That means that now I am now responsible for a group of missionaires in helping with theirs problems and issues with the area, etc. The ladder of missionaries is as follows: President, Assistants to the President and Staff, Zone leaders, District leader, Trainer, Senior companion, Junior Companion. So District leader is a great responisbility. Really I am scared out of my mind. But I know I will have the Lords help if I trully desire to serve him.
Well, I think thats it.
 Eu amo voçês
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week #26 "For every to, there is a fro, for every stop there is a go and that's what makes the world go round."

I thought this week was going to be a pretty quiet week for me... NOT SO!!

So first of all, I am not living so far out into the jungle to see all over the news that a new iphone came out and the Steve Jobs died. Especially because apple is opening a new ipad factory in Brazil ( people LOVE THAT).

This week my companion had another leadership training meeting which meant I was able to sit with Elder Page and chill in the staff offices of the mission. It is always really nice to just talk to other missionaries and see how different their experiences are, and how similar. I like having that perspective.

So I forget if I have mentioned this yet or not but our house has been without water for a LOOOONNNG time now. 3 weeks! Yea we have to fill up 2 liter bottles at our chapel and then carry them but to our house. Very annoying. We have a 25 liter tub tank thing that one of our investigators gave us that we fill up and use to take showers. I use a large cup and have to pour the water over me to shower. Very lame and yet totally cool. I am a jungle missionary!!!! Anyways, one night it began to rain HARD! So we got into some shorts and went outside to take advantage of it. It was a very cold shower but still quite refreshing. We even had the smart idea to use a bucket to collect some water...... which ended up being a horrible idea. We filled the bucket and added it to our large tank thing not realizing the rainwater we collected fell off our dirty, nasty roof. Anyways we contaminated ALL of our water and had to dump it down the toilet and get more from the chapel.

To wash our clothes.... we had to take them to the church and wash them all by hand. It took about 3 hours and by the end my shoulders were sore. BUT, I had clean shirts!!!!! ha ha. Luckily a member who lives close has offered us the opportunity to take our clothes to his house and wash them because his house still has water.

Actually, we got a little bit of water in our house yesterday and I tried to wash some clothes with our washer but it was taking FOREVER to fill the machine we have. Just when I almost had enough water to fill the machine for the rinse my comp messed with some buttons trying to help and drained all the water out..... annoying. But I was not mad at him. He just did not know that would happen. So its all fine.

We are having some good success teaching the gospel I think. Actually, three families we are teaching are talking about getting married (most people do not marry here in the north of Brazil) and I can really see the blessing of our work and their faith in theirs lives. It is just amazing to be able to watch the gospel of Christ applied to someone else. To watch them grow and change. I love my mission. I learn so much every day.

Sunday this week was testimony meeting (meaning any one in the congregation can stand up at the front and share their testimony of God and Jesus Christ). It was very powerful. It was my companions last Sunday with the ward because next week is the area stake conference and then he goes home. He bore his testimony and it was great. A lot of people talked about the blessings of missionary work. Jefferson, who was my first baptism on the mission, bore his testimony. He is just a kid but I was smiling soooooooo big! Then his mom bore her testimony. She shared an amazing story too. It was the following;

"On his special day when he was baptized, he shared something with me which I feel to share with you. He came up to me and said that he was not alone that day. Someone was their with him. I did not understand, I just saw the other people there. He then described the man who was with him during his baptism. He saw a tall man, dressed in white robes standing in the air. His hair was long and he was smiling. I had no clue who this was, because I did not see anyone like that at the meeting. But I soon realized who the man was."

I wanted to cry when I heard this. It was so touching. This kid who I truly look up too had seen something I couldn't at the time. Because he was so strong and faithful, hopeful, and willing, he saw a glimpse of heaven. Oh how I wish for all those I meet here to see that! We also heard a wonderful testimony from the bishop of the ward here. He served a mission and he was just so grateful for my companion to help the ward here.

I also was able to meet a family that Elder Soelberg has known here for a while. They were way cool, and they made us delicious food and we talked a long time about the states, how Soelberg is leaving and many more things. It was a ton of fun. It just is wonderful to build strong relationships with the people here and to really catch a glimpse of the full spectrum of what life really is here on earth. To live here in Brazil has really opened my eyes. I had a pretty set image of how the world was and what the rules were of life. But since arriving my perception of pretty much everything has been shifting and changing. It is such a blessing to learn a language, love a new culture, and really grow temporally and spiritually.]

Anyways, life is good.
Eu amo voçês
Elder Asa Laws

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week #25 - "Well, he ain't getting any deader - I thought we could use some fig newtons"

Sorry for the delay is getting this out - Rick and I were on vacation and had no access to email last week.


What an incredibility full, great week!

So one of the rapazes we baptized, Brener, is way legit. This week we found him in his house with his netbook and guess what he was doing? He was making a church plaque in MSWord with the name of the church so he could print it and put it on his wall...... WHAT!? Way legit. I was so happy with that. I love seeing others grow in their faith.

So this week I did another division with our zone leaders. I went once again with Elder Dorneles to the Petropolis area. I really like it there and it is way nice. Plus the house their for the missionaries has AC!!!!!! We had a lesson with a new person they had contacted the day before and so we quickly walked over there. When we got there we had quite a long discussion with 2 men; Haitsen and Beto. They seemed to like our message and were very open to us. They asked some great questions. Then after we had discussed who Joseph Smith was and the Book of Mormon, they told us about another man who was " called of God to direct Brazil." I was very confused. There are many churches here in Brazil and most are protestant churches. These men belong to one of those churches. They explained to us what they believed and then invited us to do the same that we asked of them; that is to pray and ask God which church is Christ's church on the earth. It was very hard lesson with them because they refused to accept our invitation. This was a first for me. I had never taught someone who outright refused to read and "experiment on the Word." Beto said something that will I will never forget; " I have already received sufficient knowledge of Christ. I do not need anymore from this book (The Book of Mormon)." These words sunk in my heart. I felt horrible the rest of the day. How could someone reject an opportunity to find out more about our Savior? Please, never think this way. Never accept that you have finally met the bar and need not do more, or learn more, or find more.

That night, I got to stay at the house with AC!!!! My first night with AC in months!!!! HEAVEN!!!! If I will only learn thing form my mission, it it will be to be grateful for the many comforts I have at home. I also found an Italian Book of Mormon at that house. Way cool.

Now, to what you all really want to hear about. I ATE ALLIGATOR AND SNAKE!!!! Oh yes I had them fried up and I put them in my belly. My blood is full of the nutrients and strength of Anaconda and Alligator!!!! Yes I have pictures and they are coming!!! As to concerning the flavor of the two; no they do not taste like chicken. Both are way better! Snake is pretty tough meat though. I liked the alligator better. I actually love alligator meat. Its true what that guy says in "Transformers." Alligators do have the most succulent meat.

Also, the next day we ate fish... and the member that was feeding us decided that I needed to try a fish head... SO HE PUSHED IT INTO MY MOUTH!!!! I was force fead a fish head. However being strong I accepted the foreign food and did in fact eat the head. It was not exactly bad, but not good either.

One week. Snake, fish head, and alligator. Good week.

On to the subject of General Conference. To those who do not know, General Conference is a twice a year live conference televised around the world for all to watch and hear the Prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as the words of the 12 Apostles of God. It is a wonderful experience and this past weekend it was held. Here in Brazil we watched live in English by satellite, while the Brazilians watched live translations into Portuguese. It was amazing and I loved it. I felt the spirit of God and I learned so much. I invite you all to watch it again, at conference.lds.org. I can definitely promise you will hear something that will touch your heart.

I am so grateful to be out here, and I am so grateful for all of you as well.

Oh, as a side note we found a McDonald's and ate there.....

Eu amos voçês
Elder Asa Laws

Anaconda being cooked!

Can you see the head?

Fried Anaconda!  Yum!!

Dinner at the members house.

Me and Elder Soelberg eating fried snake and of course, rice and beans and veggies! They feed us well!