Mission Slideshow

Monday, January 30, 2012



In light of a few things that happened this week the following letter has been written in a special format. The author, who has decided to remain anonymous, wishes that you will enjoy. Hehe!

THERE they were, lined up and as pretty as any picture. Actually they were prettier than that. There they were lined up and glistening in the sun. No, never in the history of Manaus had one Elder beheld such a glorious and tempting sight. Truly, they were unbelievable. The missionary who had encountered them was stunned and taken aback that he had been blessed to find these gifts of God. He could not believe his eyes. He had even dreamt of them with drool stains on his pillow to prove it. He had previously asked the native Brazilians about their existence but everyone denied that they existed in Brazil. Yet, despite all that he had heard and seen and dreamt, he was graced to be in their presence. Yes, with more than 9 months of a horrid fast, Elder Asa Laws FOUND DONUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

These were not just any ordinary donuts. They were 99% real tasting, 35 cent, sugar coated kisses from heaven sent on the deep fried wings of angels! They were good tidings of comfort and joy, and sugary fat calories. These donuts were more than donuts, they are donuts made in Brazil, and they were mine, but only for 3 minutes, as I quickly devoured them. Every rapid bite was savored. Every grain of sugar licked from every finger. I reckon that these donuts might have been the most loved donuts in modern donutified civilization.

THERE he was, 3 feet from complete, unlimited access to the Internet. He had found himself in this position many times before but never had he had such a reason to sit and surf the infinite waves of the WWW. His companion was not there. No one was there except the missionary secretary who was busy in his office down the hall. He had all the motive and no support, YET HE DID NOT FAIL. No, he did not look and sadly but triumphantly he retired to the couch in the front of the office where he waited for a miracle, or his companion who was at the police station, which ever came first. Luckily the miracle came first. The President of the mission pulled up and quickly left his Toyota out in the overcast skies of the amazon. He came in and inquired with the young Elder as to why he had a pencil behind his ear. The President, after being given a clear and adequate response from the Elder, authorized the pencil's locale and attempted to flee to his office. However the young missionary was determined! He asked the president if he had seen an email from the Elder's father about his brother's upcoming mission call that week. The president stumbled and realized he had forgotten to respond to the Elder's father and authorize the missionary to see his brothers mission call! He apologized up and down, then once again resumed his march to the back of the building where his office was located. "Can I look now?" was the missionaries final question, to which he received the response "Of course, why are you even asking?!"

CUIABÁ, BRAZIL!!!!! Those were the two most fantastic words that this missionary had read in his life! Heaven and earth stopped as the young Elder saw that his "little" brother was going to be serving just south of him. Just a hop, skip and jump away; if that hop was a plane, the skip was a barge, and the jump was a long bus ride! CUIABÁ, BRAZIL!!! Unimaginable! And Portuguese, he would speak Portuguese. Brother, Brother, and Father would communicate in the language of heaven while living in this terrestrial realm. Elder Roman Laws will understand what 45 degrees celsius means, though he would find that in the Brazilian desert, rather than the jungle.

ROMAN LAWS, YOU ARE THE BEST AND GREATEST BROTHER IN THE WORLD............ tribute ( JK. I hope you get the reference ;)

THERE is was. Yes, a weed wacker in all its glory. STIHL read across the side, in orange and white, gracing its plastic frame. Full of a gas/oil mixure, her 2-stroke engine was prepped and ready for grass containment operations. The man blessed to use this amazing machine was Elder Costa and while he learned how to operate such a fantastic device, his companion sat on the side watching as clumsy swings and swooshes tossed weed and earth a-like on skyward courses, only to be impeded by gravity and brought back to ground-level. Yet, over time and with proper training by said companion, soon the swaying swings became controlled cuts into the wild and barbarian front yard jungle. Even the well entertained Elder took a wack at it and relearned the art of weed control.

THERE Elder Laws sat, in front of the computer on Monday, realizing that he had a FANTASTIC week. He and his companion literally saw the work of God the week before and he felt so blessed to be here in Manaus.

Literally this week has been so fantastic, I do not think I could write a letter big enough to contain the things that have happened. We have found truly elect people to teach. We have become even more diligent and obedient and have seen the direct blessings from that. My district is doing fantastic and I love my mission. See ya soon Roman!

Eu vos amo,
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week #41 - "My spelling is wobbly. It’s good spelling, but it wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places."

So this week was incredibly long and fantastic!!!!

To be honest, as I write my letters I seem to notice that I talk a lot about temporal experiences and things that are about me and I always have thought do not write enough about the spiritual side of the mission. Well this week was a very spiritual week.

So the week started out with a fantastic leadership training meeting with the mission president. He highlighted a ton of points that we need to improve in our district, including studying more on how to TEACH the gospel, not EXPLAIN the gospel. Yes, there is in fact a huge difference between the two. Well me and my companion have been noticing a huge difference with the people we are helping since we started implementing what we were taught. Truly, the spirit has been with us this past week and we were so blessed to help others.

Funny side note- A really cool lady in the ward, Irmã Diana, was at our lunch this week and she looked at me just before we left and asked me a funny question. Her son is always all over the place, so she quietly asked " hey, do you happen to have a chain?" I replied No and quickly asked why. She answered " So I can tie up my son." Okay, maybe it is not as funny when I write it but I assure you all it was a funny moment.

We had a family night with a wonderful family and a young couple that we are teaching, Emanuella and Nathan. They are very cool and we decided to watch "The Restoration" with them. It is a fantastic short film about the young life of Joseph Smith. When we arrived, to me horror we discovered that they had no remote for the DVD player and thus no way to change the language option. It was stuck on English!! Well, that wonderful family had the idea that I, having studied both English and Portuguese, could just act as translator. I declined saying I could not translate that fast. However I quickly remembered you do not change that mind of a Brazilian that easy. So, we decided to watch the film regardless, with me as the mediating translator. I can not claim to be fully fluent in Portuguese, but during that film, I truly felt the help of the spirit. I translated really well, really fast, and through my words those people were able to feel the truth of that message. I am blessed to be a part of this work.

I also have the responsibility to interview those who have been prepared and are wanting to be baptized. This week was very special for me. On Tuesday I had an interview with a lady named Leia (yes like Star Wars). She actually wanted to back out of the interview but I was quite persistent in talking to her. Really I just wanted to see why she had suddenly changed her mind. We began the interview at roughly 8pm. It did not end until 11pm. For 3 long, teary, heavy, and wonderful hours I was able to (I hope) help this women understand truly, the promise of the atonement of Jesus Christ in her life. She had some problems from her past life that she had yet to resolve personally and I was able to be the mouthpiece of the spirit to help reach this womans' heavy heart. It was a extremely important moment I think, for her. As it also was extremely important for me. However, she still, after 30 minutes of trying, refused the offer to pray. I felt to leave the subject and instead schedule another day that week to pass by her house.

After the interview I planned a division, or rather, a 24 hour companion swap with Elder Earl and Elder Reis. I prepared my companion in the few days before and then I left him in charge for 1 day, only having 2 weeks as a missionary under his belt. We will return to that thought shortly... Anyways, on the division I had the chance to interview 2 more people. An 8 year old and an older women. They were wonderful people with testimonies that already were glowing. Tania, the older woman was so excited that after a lifetime of trial and searching, she had been given the path of Christ. The 8 year old was Tania's granddaughter, but not by blood. Her name is Samille and she lives with her " grandma" because her real mom is not capable of taking care of her. She was such a special child who trusted so much in grandma. She spoke to me of how she believes in Christ because her of grandma's strength. When I asked her to end our interview with a prayer, I told her that she was allowed to ask God for the things she most wanted. Well, this little girl really tore my heart out. She, with a calm, quite voice, asked God to move her mom closer to grandma's house so she could see her more than once a week and so that her mom could walk her to school in the morning like the other girls. I am blessed to be a part of this work.

Later that night we went to talk to Leia again, like we had planned. We arrived and entered into the small house. It was humble but still full of all the essentials, including AC. We sat down on a stool and bench while she sat on the bed. I asked her to give the opening prayer. She declined. I asked again. She said no. At this point I was so worried for her. I was just so worried that Satan had penetrated down to her core and had taught her she was never going to be able to speak with her Eternal Father again. I saw a lot of fear in her eyes. So we read with her, "Ether 12:27" from the Book of Mormon. This scripture is a powerful teaching about the weakness of men and the purposes of God. Elder Earl spoke wonderfully about how that scripture happened to be his favorite and that he was on his mission because of it. Then there was silence. For what seemed like several minutes, we sat there studying her face as she read that verse over and over. I felt impressed to read the scripture of the Book of Mormon that most touches me, "2 Nephi 4: 19". "And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted." She was also very touched and instantly marked that verse as well. Then, silence. 5 minutes. Nothing. Elder Earl gathered enough courage to ask her to pray again and he bowed his head. I followed suit and began to pray silently. I offered up my entire soul in this pray. I wanted nothing more in that moment that to hear her pray. For 10 minutes we said nothing. We just prayed. I honestly do not know what she was doing because my eyes were closed and I was praying. Then Elder Earl began to pray out loud. He offered a beautiful prayer, asking the Lord to help Leia. I followed suit once again and pleaded for the Lord to open her heart and mouth. Then, silence. More time past with nothing but the sound of cars faintly passing outside and the drown of the air conditioning. I then had the thought to get down and kneel. So I did; this whole time we were still praying. Ten more minutes past with the same sounds of nothing. Then I finally heard Elder Earl kneel followed by a third person kneel. The third, was faintly holding back tears as she began to udder " Pai Celestial" ( Heavenly Father). What followed was nothing less than a grand miracle from God. Leia offered the most heart-filled, loving, most warm and honest prayer and ended in the name of her Savior. After more than 30 minutes of silence and supplication unto the Lord; after tears, testimony, time had come and past, Leia prayed. I am blessed to be a part of this work.

All three of these wonderful people were baptized this week and I feel so grateful to be able to see this great and marvelous miracles of God. The rest of the week was full of spiritually uplifting lessons. My companion, on his first day in-charge, performed most admirably and because of him we already have 26 lessons planned for this week.

This week was all full of pizza. I ate an entire one all by-my-onesy (that means all by myself in pirate). I also had a Brazilian tell me a fantastic fact at lunch on Sunday. " Americans, by 5 months old already have their entire life planned out. Brazilians by 5 years old have a plan too-- DO NOTHING."

To end this letter, I wish to say I love you all so very much and if you ever wanted to know what I would want from any of you, the answer is this. Please read the Book of Mormon. There is no way to truly explain the effect on the life of the open heart that this book has. That is my testimony.

Eu vos Amo.
Elder Asa Laws

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Week #40 - "Did you see that? A big red bird with fuzzy pink feet."


So let me just say that my mission has found new life!!!! And it is also a lot harder!

Let me explain. When you become a missionary trainer you have to be PERFECT to insure that the new misisonary follows your example. You get up 5 minutes late, so does he. You do not clean dishes or study, he follows your example. So I have really had to up my game in order to make sure this missionary becomes the BEST.

My new companion is Elder Costa from São Paulo. He is way cool! REALLY Cool. He actually is a huge movie junkie. Seriously, I thought I knew films till I met this guy. He knows ALL of them from the states, France, Brazil... You name it, he has seen it. It is crazy! He loves talking about movies and music and is a huge fan of Beethoven. Needless to say we are going to get along just great. We are already having a ton of fun. He is the only member of his entire family but he is really praying and hopíng to set the example on his mission.

The President actually drove us home that first night that Elder Costa arrived and on the way the President was talking a lot and didn't even notice that he ran over dog! It was kind of funny because it was a black dog and the President kept asking " are you sure, because I saw nothing." (Sad for the dog though)

We started our week off with a huge deep clean of our house including re-arranging all the furniture. I even put up my giant American flag on the wall. So now our house is PIMPING ( yes, I just used that word.). I love this house though he are still hot-water-less.

We WORK! Elder Costa loves to work. He loves to talk to new people and we are really going to find a ton of new people to teach now. I am very excited. Actually, I have a ton of things to be excited about. My zone leaders are actually both Americans and they are my good buddies so we joke around a ton and get a long great. All of the zone ise full of great missionaries, including ELDER CLIVE. He is in the district just south of mine so we will see each other more often!!!

Sidenote- my companion loves SRIRACHA. We put it on everything.

Also, Elder Costa has a book that teaches you french so I have been reading and I am learning some basics in french right now. It is weird because I think it is way easier than Spanish. Je suis un missionnaire pour l'Église de Jésus-Christ des saints des derniers jours. (How did I do Kristen?)

I heard a crazy story this week about my past area, Mauazinho. So apparently the drug Lord that lives there put out a price of the head of the community leader there in mauazinho a week ago. So what did the community leader do? He went to the drug Lords House and tied him up and called the police!!! Man, Brazil is crazy!

I really do not know what else to say. This week was so full and really good but I just have nothing to write about. I ove being a missionary and I am so thankful for every moment I have here. My new companion is the man and this next week will be great.

Elder Asa Laws

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week #39 - "I'm the leader. I'll say when we go... Here we go."


I know you all are just itching to know about transfers, so here is the news. I AM STAYING!!!!! I will stay in Jorge Teixeira and.... I am going to train Elder Costa, a Brazilian fresh off the missionary factory product line!!!!!!!!!! I am so freaking excited!!!!! Tomorrow I pick him up at 4pm. (Asa has been a DL for the last 3 transfers and will now be a trainer for the next 12 weeks for this new Elder, along with being the DL)

Something to share - I heard a fantastic quote for Zun Tzu, "The Art of War." " Intelligence has never been associated with procrastination."

So this week was a bit calmer than the last few. Not much new has happened. We baptized 2 more people this week, and it was wonderful to end the transfer with 5 people who we helped find the gospel. Seriously, for all the ups and downs of this transfer, I am so grateful that I was able to see the fruit's of our labors. Those 5 people are very special to me in that they helped me through these last weeks.

HOWEVER, the highlight of my week was probably Wednesday's lunch. We had lunch with a lady that I had never met before. Her house was only made of wood and it was very small. VERY SMALL! When we finally sat down for lunch I noticed something strange on her wall. It instantly caught my attention. On her wall was very carefully painted, BIG, NAZI FLAG. Yes, I am talking about the red one with the swastika in the middle. The one that millions identify with death and terror... There is was in full high-def color. Red as red gets. Black as night. I was a bit taken back and right away asked why it was there. She dodged the question very well but explained how it had always been there and that her husband did not want to paint over it. Upon further inquiry we discovered that her husband had left the church and was an active member of the Nazi party. She herself, as time revealed, was very partial as well. She even tried to discuss with us how much of the teachings of Hitler were correct. I was just stunned!!! I was eating lunch with Nazis!!! The last thing I had ever expected to do in my life (and on my mission) was meet active Nazis! BUT to eat lunch in there house and have a normal conversation (well, kind of normal) was just shocking!! Needless to say she is inactive as well and does not come to church. That same day my companion also had an interview with the president. I have no idea why, but I had the chance to go to the mission offices and chill in the air conditioned glory of the office. It was great. However, I felt a bit useless because I was there for 4 hours with nothing to do but read.

I ALSO FOR THE FIRST TIME, I REMEMBER DREAMING IN PORTUGUESE!!!!! I have heard from my companions that I talk in Portuguese in my sleep, but this week I had my first dream that I remember dreaming in Portuguese, talking with someone at home who does not know the language, and they responded in Portuguese. The honor of this person who spoke with me in Portuguese goes to Lori "mama" Collier!!!! She actually had a HUGE house and I said " Posso entrar?" She replied politely " Pode Asa, Claro. Of Course." I was so excited. Thank you Mama Collier for letting me into your house. ;)

So the bishop here always calls me Elder Asa da Aguia. I did not know what this meant until yesterday night I finally figured it out. He is calling me Elder Wing of the Eagle. COOL RIGHT? He explained how there is a part in Isaiah how the Lord says he will lift those who sacrifice their lives to him on wings of eagles. SOOOO, I am Elder Wing of the eagle. I LOVE that.

Side note - Also I remembered a really good song this week. Street Player, by Chicago. Good Stuff. It was stuck in my head one day.

ROMAN LAWS!! You are going to serve a mission here soon. I have heard, brother, that you have sent your papers in and are asking for guesses on where you will serve. My formal guess on where you will spend 2 years serving the Lord is... Brazil!!! However, I have the lucky privilege of knowing about a lot of the missions here. So I will specify where in the great land. Campinas Brazil!!!!

Eu vos amo,
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, January 2, 2012

Week #38 - "Klinger, it's my considered opinion that no one is going to believe you are pregnant"


Hello new year, how are you? I hope you enjoy staying with us for the next 365 days. You should have a blast here. Earth is a pretty happenin' place. I know its not the same as a Mars Year and it will definitely pass fast than your year on Pluto, so make the best of it with us, all right? Good.

This week was one of my best weeks as far as the work goes! We really pounded it out and had 3 BAPTISMS!!!!!! But first, let me explain.

So at the beginning of this week we had a joint district meeting with some other missionary companionship's and the Zone Leaders gave us a great pep talk (or training, as they call it.) I was really feeling good and prepared, then my fantastic Zone Leader had a long chat with my companion about what had occurred last week. My best guess is they talked for about an hour! Anyways, we returned to our area shortly afterwards and a miracle occurred... MY COMPANION TALKED TO ME!!! He decided to open up and we talked about our issues, what we can do to improve, problems, and goals. It was amazing! He got some things off his chest we were finally able to move on! After that it was all easy sailing. We taught, studied, found new people, and taught more TOGETHER! We were joking around and genuinely having a good time! A MIRACLE! Seriously, he and I are new missionaries now and we have "captured the vision" as they say.

We ended our week with 4 baptisms in our district, one of which has been waiting to be baptized for 16 years! I had the privilege to help him finally find peace from his past. I am just so blessed that we were able to help him. When I baptized a kid name Rener, he remembered to plug his nose but totally spaced about closing his mouth, thus he unintentionally drank a big old mouth full of water!! As he came up he gasped for air, looked and me and said " That's it?" Everyone busted up laughing!

Diving into the gritty details of the week: MY CHEESE DIED!!! Yes, it turns out that Tillamook cheese can only take so much of a beating and spend only so much time in a plastic bag, traversing the oceans and jungles. Yes, it turns out that even great cheese must finally return to that great cheese factory in the sky to receive its recompense and glory as all cheese must do. I had consumed only about 2 thirds of my cheese when it finally fell prey to time and age (and heat), giving way to odor and its appetite destroying effects. T'was sad, yes, to see so much cheese lost to garbage demons but I take comfort in the fact that one day I will meet it again in a walmart near you (or in a package for my birthday...?

Side note - a member gave me a tie with a saxophone on it!!! I love it and I feel so good knowing I have a woven memory of my high school days!

Also our hot water shower head burned out. t'was to my dismay one morning this week when I arose expecting warm comfort, and instead found liquid ice. Needless to say, my showers have become much faster and more frantic.

Side note- There is a verb in Portuguese, plastificar, that literally means to plasticify! LOVE IT!

The bishop here saw that I write everything down during the week in a little black notebook that I carry with me everywhere (hence the detail in the letters.) He then asked me to take note of a few things;

1. I lent him 10 bucks to buy gas and pick up some people to bring to church.
2. He wished to give a big hug to my dad.
3. We had lunch on Sunday at his house, the 1st day of the new year.

The bishop here is a fantastic man whose family is wonderful. We love passing by his house to say a quick hello! Speaking of his family, I have a story to tell. There is a handicapped man who lives right next door to the bishop. His name is really long so everyone just calls him "Fozzie" (yes, I thought of the Muppets too.) He is very old, crippled in one hand, and suffered an accident to the head so he can not walk very well or communicate. He has almost no immediate family. This week I helped him take in his food that he bought. Two fishes, an old tomato, an onion, and 2 liters of soda. Just upon first sight of him, my heart sank. How can [man] leave his brethren (and sisters) to exist the way this man does; tears me up inside. He could barely open his front door let alone carry his bags and prepare a meal. Upon entering his house I found he owned a small, very old fridge, a stove with no heads on top, a hammock which stretched across the entire room that constituted the house, one table, and a radio tuned in to Portuguese dance music. The rest of the house was covered in old newspapers and garbage. I wanted to cry then and I still do. Fozzie was in no position to better his situation nor did he deserve what he had. And yet, these facts do not change the truth that he lives in. He gave me a smile and thanked me for helping him as I left to join my companion in the bishops house. There I sat and contemplated what I had seen. It was visible too that something has on my mind, so the bishops wife, Grace ( graça) offered me something to drink. I accepted and asked her about her neighbor.

The story she related tore me up. His life was one of trials, pain, and loneliness. He has nothing. She also told me he loves to read and that is why he had all the newspapers. She then told me of how everyday after he leaves, she opens his back door and cleans his house, washes his clothes, and often prepares and gives him food. She told me of how she regularly cuts up the vegetables he uses and how often she will invite him to dinner or to participate in a family activity. He lives there free of charge. Within all my sorrow for this man, Sister Grace gave me such a hope that God sends his angels to care for his people. She was such an example of Christ. I felt so grateful to her. I also realized I had reading material for Fozzie!! So I returned to his house (which was just a few steps away) and I offered him a Book of Mormon to read when he is at home or not busy. His faced beamed and I wanted to cry again. He thanked me and I felt that his thanks was something more than words. He asked if we could say a prayer before I left and so I did. Just 15 minutes later he came to the bishops door, asking Sister Grace to cut his tomato and onion. She did, preparing them carefully so as to make sure she did not ruin the small amount of food. He also said he was so very happy because I had given him a book and he did not have any other books to read. I tell you now, I hope to help others and touch the souls of these people in the way he touched me and I pray and hope he will be okay.

On Saturday I got a visit from the Mission President. He brought me Christmas cards from Dru and Jessica, The Combs family, Brother and Sister Rigby, and one from Mom and Dad. I also received your cookies Hanna! They, unfortunately did not survive the voyage, but I still have them because I do not want to throw them away. I also received a package from Ryan and Michelle's Family!!!!! Twizzlers, candy, and...... another Harmonica!!!!! Yes, I have two now and I am getting pretty good I think. I can play a score of hymns and ol' sea shanties to satisfy my musical bones.

Thank you also to Kenzie and Kyle for the awesome watch. It is beautiful and thus will probably be stolen, but I wear it with pride. It was huge so me and my companion used a sewing kit and my Leatherman and managed to take out 2 sections to make it fit.

Another side note - I will have it known that my pants, when I bought them, were long. They puddled at my shoes following classic missionary fashion rules. However, as the rainy season has arrived here, puddled pants in rain puddles do not mix. Thus, I have tested a new creation of mine. I "hemmed" one of my own pants. 3 inches!!! AND they still puddle a bit on my shoes! These pants are LONG. So I think I am safe if I happen to grow and inch or two on my mission (unlikely at this point).

We spent New Years at the member house where we had Christmas as well. We hate another feast and they had music videos playing in the background. I happen to catch a glimpse (or rather watch) a new Coldplay video involving elephant suits! Yes, I am speaking of the music video to their song "Paradise". I highly recommend it. It's good stuff.

Well, I think that closes up my week. Until next time, "you stay classy San Diego".

Eu vos Amo.
Elder Asa Laws