Mission Slideshow

Monday, April 30, 2012

Week #55 - "Yes, I'm a natural blue."


Yes, this was another great week and I am so happy to be here in Manaus. So this week I really wanted to talk to all of you about something for which a I am extremely grateful. The Holy Spirit! So far on my mission, I have been so wonderfully blessed to be able to develop an ear and heart that listens for that still small voice and I felt impressed to share with all of you a few things that I have discovered about the Spirit. I hope that what I have learned might be able to help one of you recognize more in your life, these heavenly impressions that I have found to be so vital in my life.

I have noticed that the spirit speaks distinctly different than my own personal thoughts and feelings. When an impression comes I have noticed that the nature of the message, the syntax, and method of logical order is different than what I could come up with personally. I have found that generally the things I have felt prompted to say or do have been very small, normal things that are not really unusual. The distinct difference in discerning the spirit from my own thoughts and feelings was how each impression came, how it felt, and what its consequences are when followed. I have learned that all that is good comes from heaven and that if one performs miracles or receives inspiration, it is through and from the powers of heaven that those miracles and messages are received. Thus, if a man touches the heart of another then he must have touched that heart through and by the holy spirit.

So then if I as a missionary help someone understand the true nature of our Lords gospel, it is only through and by that same spirit that the miracles has been performed. By understanding this I have been able to look back at those moments in my mission and life and see how I felt, how I received that impression, and what happened in direct consequence to what was said or done. By perceiving these things I have begun to understand and notice HOW the spirit spoke to me and how I can see to have that spirit again.

However, in doing so I have also learned that perspective is the key. Just as one mans trash is another mans treasure the one who is looking for miracles will find them in places where others will not. The trash, or everyday coincidence of one man, can truly be an angelic message for the penitent soul. Those who ask, receive; but how shall they receive if they refuse to look.

Because of this, I have been blessed to see the work of God performed through the words of my companion. As he speaks, I trust that what he is saying is the truth, sent from heaven to be heard at that time. I feel the power of his words as they touch my heart, as well as the hearts of others. I see the influence that the spirit has on the people after he speaks. I notice that when I have no more to say, that when the spirit has not told me what is to be done, he has received that inspiration. I am so grateful for Elder Christiansen and how much he has taught me.

The work here has become wonderfully more active now that we are striving more to follow what the president has taught. He has told us to teach part-member families; to bring these families into activity and to help them be come whole in the gospel, also to receive the blessings of the temple. That is our focus and we have been blessed with 3 wonderful families to teach. I am confident all will soon become eternal families through the blessing of the temple in Manaus.

As great side notes; my companion has bought a soccer ball and I can now practice juggling again. I can get about 7 on average, but my record is 17! Elder Christiansen always gets more than 15. We also love masking french toast and yesterday he made 9 slices for himself!! Then, he tried eating all of them in the same bite!!! It was quite funny.

Anyways my mission has been great. I love this people. Really I have been noticing how much Brazil has become a part of me. When I started my mission, so much was new and foreign and it was going to stay that way. Now with one year under my belt I have just come to be apart of Brazil. I love it here. I love the language, the people, the music (well, just bossa nova and samba.) I am hoping that for the rest of my life I can always be a little bit Brazilian.

Eu vos amo,
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week #54 - "It's more fun if you put your hands in the air Isma!"


This week was quite a roller-coaster and I am just amazed at how much one can truly grow on a mission. The Lord really has a plan for all and he is watching out for all of us, even if we feel abandoned, or scared, or lonely. Remember this, GOD IS THERE.

So as for the week it was a bit slower in that we are running out of new people to teach. This area is really different from my last in that not very many people accept the offer to hear us. Most houses have big gates around them and no one is out in the street. So that has been hard. BUT we have been getting a few great references from members and I am sure this next week will pick up. So I am looking forward to a good, fast, work filled week.

We actually had a very successful week this week in that 4 people were baptized!!! Vinicius, who is an 8 year old kid who is full of energy and wants to be an example for his dad who drinks. Luciana, who has been talking with missionaries for months now. She finally just got the courage to take the dip. She loves going to church and has a happy face on, always. Maria and Tayana, who we recently met trough a member from across the city, Warley. These two are AMAZING women who really have grown in the last weeks. They went to church, read the scriptures, abandoned coffee habits in days, and are so firm now that I am in awe of their testimonies. Truly a mission does help you see the small miracles of life.

This week was stake conference and I had the privilege to see my mission president again (for the 7th week in a row). He and his wife spoke there and it was amazing to just feel an incredibly powerful spirit there. They spoke of Christ and his atonement for us. It just confirmed in my heart the truths I have come to know. I imagine that when the scriptures talk about the trumps of angels, I believe that sometimes means through the mouths of chosen servants of God. Their words struck my heart. Then, the stake president spoke and I thought it might have been the best talk I have ever heard in my life. He spoke on the comforting power of the Lord's spirit. His spirit was so moving and the talk was all in Portuguese. He really helped ignite a fire in me to be better. WAY BETTER! I just want to be the best I can.

As a side note, I have officially run out of candy in my house. (Sad face) But that is okay. Yessiree, I have been maintaining my weight and feeling really good. All is well. I have had pancakes 3 times this week, and french toast another time. We love to eat breakfast at random times throughout the day. So dinner often means a quick pancake stop at home! Also, I am so glad my companion is so cool. I was starting to run out of Disney quotes for my letters but he has let me bounce a few ideas off him and I have discovered many other great ones!!

Eu vos amo,
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week #53 - "Hurry up man, the pizzas are getting cold!"

Boom! -

This is it!! ONE YEAR has passed!

It is true. As of the 13th of April, 2012, Asa Richard Laws has been on his mission for 1 year. The middle mark has been past and what a ride it has been. It has had its ups and its downs; its days of laughter, and days of despair; days of growth and more growth. As I have had a few moments to look back, I have realized that this year has truly been the best year of my life. Sorry dad, that motorcycle trip has been supplanted. Sorry BYU, you have been demoted. Europe Trip 2008, relocated. My mission has meant EVERYTHING TO ME and I love it! I want everyone to know that I love it!

# of companions: 5 ( 2 American, 3 brazilian)
# of areas: 3 ( Mauazinho, Jorge Teixeira, Cidade Nova)
# of missionaries trained: 1 (Elder Costa)
# of times cried: 4 ( 2 in the CTM, 2 in-field)
# of pages read: 2841 ( From the Book of Mormon, Bible, Jesus the Christ, Preach my Gospel, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Lectures on Faith, The Great Apostasy)
# of packages received: 8
# of insoles used: 3
# of miles walked just last week: 47 ( True story. No more complaining from other missionaries!!!)
# of socks lost: 1 pair (but another missionary gave me a pair, so I am even.)

This last week was a HARD week. We really just turned on the work juice. We started the week kind of slow but the President came to do interviews with us and he gave me some great advice. Basically he told me to stop messing around and that I have to be more focused than I was before. He stated' "This area is not like your last area, so doing the same things won't work here. You have to be better." Well, he said to work more with members of the church.... and I was a bit lost. I felt like I was just told I was a bad missionary and that I was doing nothing right. However, light came.

We had a member call us who had a friend who wanted to meet with us. Warley, the member, told us of Tayana, his friend, who wanted to visit the church that week. So we went over there and found her and her friend, Maria, that lives with her. WHAT A SPIRITUAL LESSON! They loved it, as did I. We have been visiting them almost weekly. They even went to church and to see another baptism. GUESS WHAT? They want to be baptized this week and so we have 4 potential baptisms this week. What a surprise for an area that has been pretty dry since I arrived. We started to do exactly what the President said and things just improved. We had a great last week and I am so excited for this new week.

Also.... MY PACKAGE ARRIVED MOTHER! Yes, I now have PLENTY of socks and Portland Timbers gear. I think a Jersey, hat, pin, sweat bands, season schedules, and a bumper sticker (where do I put that?) show enough to the world that I love soccer. Seriously I love soccer. It is just awesome. I love talking with members or our investigators about Brazilian and European games. It really helps connect with some people. Sometimes I feel missionaries can be so dry and I try to avoid that. I want people to feel comfortable around me, instantly. The books you sent, mom are great!!!

A few weeks ago I sent out a declaration for all the world to send me pancake mix. I would like to retract that. I have, with the help of Elder Clive (who is from Camas, WA) , shared a homemade pancake mix recipe with Brazilian ingredients. So... my new declaration is.... SEND SYRUP!!!!!!!!!! Or at least maple extract so I can make syrup!!! I now know how to make pancakes, scones, and french toast. All I lack is sweet sugary liquid/paste to lather over the top.

As for me and my companion, we are having a good time. We have finally connected and found a good rhythm in which to march. So we are feeling quite shnazzy.

I love you all for the great first year of support that I have received. I truly do feel your prayers and love.

Eu vos amo,
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, April 9, 2012

Week #52 - 1 year mark!!


"Thats all you do. Bird imitations?" - MASH

What a crazy week! Really, I am extremely tired.

So first things first. TRANSFERS!! YES! I moved for real and I am now in the Northern Part of Manaus. My new companion is Elder Christiansen. The name of my area is Cidade Nova.

NEW HOUSE. So this area used to be an area that had sister missionaries in it so EVERYTHING we have in our apartment is nice. Our house is well painted, safe, and very clean ( thanks to my companion. I will get to that later.) We have HOT WATER and an AIR CONDITIONER. Our washing machine is fantastic and my shirts are actually mildly white now-a-days. I have a nice bed. Our house is roomy and I love it. NO complaints at all.

NEW COMPANION. Yes, Elder Christiansen is an American from Utah, though he grew up in Wisconsin. He is taller, skinny, and blonder than me. But that is just the surface. He is a crazy neat freak and that is really good for me. He has been getting on me about keeping my stuff picked up and it has been really good. I try harder now to clean up after EVERYTHING. I wash dishes right after I use them. I take off my shoes at the door and my flip flops before I enter the bedroom (he has quarantined the bedroom). Nothing but clean, washed , dust free bare feet are allowed in. So it has been hard to get used to, but I am glad he is helping me return to be a civilized human being. He waited 2 years before coming on his mission, so he already is 21 years old, because he wanted to go for the right reasons. No one was going to push him into going on a mission. So because of that he takes it VERY seriously. I have never met a missionary who is so on top of making sure EVERYTHING is EXACT. He did not come out here to waste his time. So we study EXACTLY on time. He also believes a lot in being very effective. He does not like to do things that are not the most effective use of our time. I think sometimes it gets in the way, because we sometimes find ourselves standing on a street corner analyzing what would be a good use of our time. Rather, I would rather just choose and go. I do not like to just sit. So I will have to adjust (or help him adjust). I would be lying if I said this week was easy though. I was not exactly prepared for my new companion. I thought an American would mean someone I could relate to more. Rather, it has been to tough to break the ice. I have just spent so much time with the Brazilians and we are so different, that sometimes I feel a bit uncomfortable. BUT, I know he is meant to be my companion. He will mold me into a better missionary. I will try my hardest to do as he does because I trust that he won't be an idiot. So, after talking with him a bit, I have decided he is AMAZING and I cannot wait for this transfer to move forward. It is going to be great!

NEW AREA. So this area is NOT POOR. I was completely shocked when I first arrived here. This neighborhood is actually a very well planned, clean, and well kept part of the city. There really are no enormous hills. They streets are well paved and flat. Peoples houses are not made of wood, but rather are larger and concrete. I am blessed to be here. HOWEVER, we have no one to teach. My companion was a bit depressed because we had very few investigators and no one that wanted to be baptized. So we worked our tails off. We tried so hard. Really, and in the end, our fruits were few. Just 5 new investigators this week. BUT we have 2 investigators that want to be baptized! So I have high hopes. All will be well.

Actually this week has been a huge test of faith for me. Not just normal faith but true, hard, step into the dark faith and hope God catches you. And you know what, I felt like I grew a lot. I have tons of new challenges before me but I just know it can't go wrong. "You can't go wrong doing right."

This week I decided that I need to to learn to write more clearly. So I have been teaching myself to write in cursive. EVERYTHING I write in my planner, or journal, or all of everything else, I try to write in cursive. It is getting better and it is interesting because it looks a lot like your handwriting, Mom.

A mission is full of trials. There are many paths to take. Sometimes people think that a missionary just has one thing to do all the time. Well, that is just not true. I have hardships and trials and temptations and problems and sometimes I just feel like I need a break, or a hug, or a moment with my ipod. The difference on a mission is I DO NOT HAVE THOSE CHOICES. NO breaks, no hugs, and no jamming to Mumford and Sons on my ipod. I have to have faith, prayer, trust, hope, and patience. It is SO HARD. But, in the end I have already felt the personal change I have developed on this mission. I am not the same, overly dramatic and excited Asa Spades. I am a new, more sanctified and hopefully pure Asa who loves his God and all that that statement implies.

Eu vos amo.
Elder Asa Laws

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week #51 - "The Doctrine of Personal, Individual Salvation is False. Salvation is a Family Affair."

I would like to start this letter out with a warning. The following letter should not be read in the same manner as my other letters. The tone and timbre of this letter will be one of reverence and quiet peace. A few factors this week has lead me to make that choice. Please accept my apology for the change, but I do rather hope that you will enjoy nonetheless. Let us begin.

Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists a bi-annual church wide conference in which all members, active or in-active, as well as non-members of our faith our invited to hear and learn from the words of the men we believe to be called of God to be Prophets and Apostles of the Church. During this meeting many topics are discussed and much can be learned by the penitent and open hearted listener. That was my focus for Saturday and Sunday of this last week; to listen to a Prophets voice and feel the confirming Spirit of God; I feel that I have been well fed spiritually.

In this meeting a few things really touched me. I cannot remember perfectly ALL of the talks nor all their varied topics. But I remember that I truly felt something inspiring and remotely different. You see, it is my opinion that man has been given a larger capacity to feel and sense the world around him than we understand. In the complexity of this universe and life we all have, I find it hard to believe that only 5 senses were put in place by the Master to discern the mysteries and divine truths that also have been put into action. I am of the belief that man, deep down within his soul, is able to feel within his heart many other things; rather than just sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. These senses are what moves us to action when we see a young child starving. These feelings are what connect us to our loved ones. These feelings of the soul are what allow us to remain inseparably in tune to our Maker, and it is through these feelings that He has revealed all truth to man, up to this point in time. Yes, it is my personal belief that man is moved upon by God himself through something deep down to fulfill the promises of the Prophets and complete His perfect plan.

During this past conference I felt (I use the verb feel, though truly an adequate verb to describe what I experienced does not exist in English, nor Portuguese) that God himself revealed His truths unto the sons of man and continued to fulfill His promises found in holy scripture. These truths were quite variegated and the promises fulfilled were many. But the feeling was the same; the feeling and undeniable trust that what was said was sent from our Heavenly Father to feed the hungry souls of his children.

In particular, I had a wonderful experience listening to a talk by Elder David A. Bednar, one of the 12 Apostles of the Church. He spoke to the men of the church Saturday night and I was quite moved. But he said one phrase that touched something within me; one of those unseen senses of my soul. The phrase " Rise Up as Men of God", penetrated my entire soul. I felt entirely overcome by something grand and glorious. I was enveloped in the Spirit of my Father who testified to me of truth and I could not deny it. Memories of my mothers kind words and a BYU t-shirt came to mind. Mom had sent me this special football fan shirt because it simply said "Rise Up" on the front and she knew that I love that hymn. Memories of a 3-time state championship Men´s Choir from my high school days also came to me, as I remembered that we won my senior year with a stunning version of the Hymn "Rise Up, O Men of God". Memories of a giant poster of a basketball star in Portland, Oregon which simply read "RISE WITH US" came streaking through my memory as well. I felt that a personal message from my Lord had finally been realized in my heart; a calling from my Master as plain as the calling given to Lazarus of old. RISE. RISE UP. RISE UP, MAN OF GOD.

This conference was something very special to me. I learned many plain and precious pearls that I hope to treasure for my lifetime and I pray that I will be able to apply these truths to my life, and to my work of saving others. I urge you, please, to listen, watch or read just ONE talk from this General Conference. http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2012/04?lang=eng. If you already did, DO IT AGAIN, and this time pay a little bit closer attention to what happens within your heart. These messages are truly things to be guarded, heard, and felt by all. That is my testimony that I wish to share.

I would like to now thank my neighbor Jorge Rodriguez for his wonderful package. I loved the Wiener birthday card, the scented candles were a blessing to my nose and house, and the food has been well received in my belly. Reed Perkins, I thank you for "packy the care-package", whose letter was extremely funny and lifted my spirits. Swedish fish are amazing, as well as the fantastic other snacks which have almost already been completely consumed.

Chloe Litchfield. IF you are reading this, THANK YOU! If you are not, then I now invite EVERYONE WHO KNOWS HER to tell her to read this. Thank you for the wonderful letter. I had actually been thinking to write you but I did not have an address. Now, thanks to your wonderful letter, you will be receiving my reply in the near future. Thank you Maryam Aurich for the the scripture reference. If I remember right, its Proverbs 3. Anyways, I read it and I loved it. For you to know, my favorite scripture right now is in 2nd Peter.

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us aall things that pertain unto blife and cgodliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us dto glory and evirtue:
 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious apromises: that by these ye might be bpartakers of the cdivine dnature, having eescaped the fcorruption that is in the world through glust.
 5 And beside this, giving all adiligence, add to your faith bvirtue; and to virtue cknowledge;
 6 And to knowledge atemperance; and to temperance bpatience; and to patience cgodliness;
 7 And to godliness abrotherly bkindness; and to brotherly kindness ccharity.
 8 For if these things be in you, and aabound, they make you that ye shall neither be bbarren nor cunfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and aelection sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never bfall:

This week was the last week of the transfer and my district has had a goal to baptize WEEKLY. For those of you with no frame of reference; as a missionary it is very hard to find, teach, and baptize people. Most of this world has become very hardened to our message and daily failure and rejection is common. So to baptize weekly is quite frankly a dream for most missionaries. Well with serious faith, obedience, and blessings my entire district accomplished this goal; 6 baptisms in 6 weeks. It was quite the experience and I KNOW that we received the help of angels.

As for my other experiences this week; the President came to our house this week and decided to buy me a new mattress because I slept in a hammock. So he brought me a HUGE, VERY SOFT bed. I love it. I love it so much that my first night on it I slept through my alarm (first time in months). He also brought us food and a rack to put our materials on. Relating to the president, I love that man. He is a man inspired from God. He leads this mission as though Christ were leading it. I would like to close with a final call that I heard at conference. Elder David E. Evans spoke about how a REAL LETTER can bless the lives of missionaries. That's just a thought for anyone who prays for blessing for me.....please write me! haha ;)

Eu vos amo!
Elder Asa Laws