Monday, August 22, 2011

Sittin' on the top of the world...

Hey guys!!!
Thank you all for the emails!!! This week was interesting!!! Luana left for England yesterday so that she could go back to school!!! We saw her for the last time on Thursday night, it was really great!!! We ate with her and her family, and as we were leaving, it was super weird and tough because it was the last time we would see her. Anyway, we said our goodbyes and what not. But we will be keeping in touch with her so it will be good!!! She is such a strong member!! She told us that the next day, she hung out with a friend that told her they could tell something was different about her!! She also said, that the scriptures make so much more sense now and that she just loves reading them!! She said that she is more sure about the truthfulness of this church than anything else in her life!! We know that she will be such a strong member!! I am amazed with how well the Lord has helped her and prepared her for this!!! In church yesterday, a member said that Luana's baptism was one of the most memorable she had ever been to because the spirit was so strong. She said she will never forget it!! We are very happy for Luana!!!
Well, the rest of this week was alright!!!! We worked really hard, but a lot of our investigators are never home when we pass by, so it gets really tough!! We knocked a lot of doors this week, so its back into the work right??? Well, we really need to find some new investigators right now because we don't have a lot as it is, so that will be a focus this next and final week of the transfer!!!
I can't believe I am already in the last week of this transfer!! Time really does fly by unrealistically fast doesn't it?? I'm really not sure what is going to happen!! I could stay, or leave, or we could both leave or stay!! We have no clue!! It's all up to the Lord, so I'm not expecting anything in particular,but we will see what happens!!!
Oh we also had interviews this last Thursday!! They went really well. President is such a loving guy!! He really lifts me up during the interviews!! One of the things he taught us in that interview was when he said that "when we are weak, it is because our love is weak" Its true!! There is no weakness, or fear, or any fault in love. So that is another focus of mine right now. I am trying to love the people more!!! It will take a lot of prayer, but I'm excited for it!!
Well, that is really about all the news I have for this week. I'm so glad to hear that things are going well for you guys!! I'm glad Isaac's birthday went well!! Happy birthday Isacc and to Natalie as well coming up here pretty soon. I love you guys!! Keep me posted on what goes on. I can't believe the summer is already done!! I have gotten to the point where I can look back in my journal exactly a year ago and I was writing about things that were happening in my first area with Elder Kessler!!! pretty cool!!! Well, I love you all so much!!! I pray for all of you everyday!! I hope this week goes well for everyone!! Can't wait to hear from you guys next week. Talk to ya later!!! Tchau!!
Elder Willes

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Day...Baptism for Luana!!!

Hey guys!!
Sorry I am emailing so late! Earlier this week we got permission from President Torgan to go with our branch to a branch activity today at the Palmela Castle!!We had a picnic and played some games, it was a blast. We left in the morning and just got back, so that is why I am emailing you so late!!!
The baptism was incredible!!! This whole week was completely focused on Luana to help her right up until baptism, but everything went incredible!!! We have been praying so hard that everything would work out, and everything worked perfectly!!! Luana is such an amazing girl!!! She is about as elect as they come!! We called her on Saturday to see how she was doing and she told us that she woke up a little bit nervous. So she read scriptures all day and said she felt so much better and so ready afterwards!!! How many people are that elect!!! I can honestly say this is the first I have met this elect!!! Heavenly Father really did lead her step by step to this baptism!!! Truly incredible!!! We had the opportunity to meet her parents and cousin on Thursday. They fed us so much Brazilean food I could barely walk, and they really enjoyed our visit so they also went to the baptism. They are having us over again on Thursday. The baptism was really good for them because the spirit was so strong. We are going to start to teach them too. As for Luana, she will be a life long friend even though she moves to England in a week!!! We exchanged contact information and everything!!! Anyway, the baptism was incredible as they always are!! The spirit was so strong and just about our whole branch showed up as well as members from another ward to support her. She had a lot of support!! Brother Vaz was able to do her baptism which was perfect, because now she has that bond in the branch other than just an Elder. Then, I was blessed to be able to do her confirmation and give her the gift of the Holy Ghost!!! It was INCREDIBLE!!!!! The spirit was so strong!!! How blessed were we to be able to be a part of her entering into the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ!!! I have been so happy this last week. I have been carried through every little trial without despair because of this baptism. So there you go, it was truly Incredible!!!! She is an eternal friend to us now and I'm sure there were many people rejoicing in the Heavens because of her decision!! Below, I have attached two pictures of her baptism and also the program that we made for it!!!
So, that was the main focus of this week. Then she also came to our branch activity today!!!! It was so much fun!!!! We played a ton of games, threw frisbees and whatnot, walked around the castle, had lunch, and then just chilled with all the members!!! I have been flying high this week!!! We hope to continue to strengthen our little branch here in Vasco da Gama!!! Transfers are already coming up here in about two weeks, so we will see what happens. But now, I honestly would like to stay another transfer!!!
So that was my week. I couldn't help but think about you guys up there at the Tetons!!!! Sometimes, I would even count back seven hours and think "oh wow, they are probably doing this right now up at the Tetons" haha. Don´t worry though, I still focused and worked hard hahaha.!!! NOELLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I GET TO HAVE ANOTHER NEPHEW OR NIECE!!!!! I'm so excited!!! Another member of this blessed family on the way!!! I almost freaked out when I read that you were pregnant and I love those shirts that Isaac and Logan have by the way!!!! I'm excited to hear if it is a boy or a girl!!!! Congratulations!!! but yeah, I'm really excited to be at the Tetons with you guys next year!!! We will have to do some fun hikes and what not!!!!!
Well, that is how the week went!!! To make a long story short, we had a really incredible baptism, and me and Elder Bolough are so happy. Now we just need to work hard and bring her family into the Gospel as well as find the other elects here in Montijo!!! I'm so thankful for all of you!!! Each of you have had such a HUGE impact on my life, and every day I think of how lucky I am to be a part of this family!!! I'm learning so much here on my mission!!! Not only have I developed a profound love for this Gospel, but also learning as well!! I'm constantly learning something new everyday!! It's incredible!! An eye opener!!! I love you guys!! I look forward to hearing from you next week. I keep you all in my prayers everyday!!!! Falaremos mais tarde então!! Fiquem Bem!!!!!! Tchau!!!
Elder Willes

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8th email....

I have great news for you guys!!! As I have already informed you, we have been working with a Brazilean investigator named Luana and about 2 weeks ago, much to our surprise, she said she wanted to be baptized. But not as soon as we had prayed and felt for her. It was hard, but we have refused to give up on her. Well, so we kept praying and passing by her house and trying to strengthen her and help her have more faith. So we went on Wednesday and passed by her house. Her parents weren't home. So we taught her outside, but needless to say, it was an amazing lesson. As we planned for her that morning, I wanted to share a certain scripture with her in John 7:17, that says "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" Then you know, we explained to her that sometimes we just have to take that leap of faith and trust our feelings that come from the Holy Ghost even if we are scared!! So after reading that, we talked about applying faith. It was in that moment, that she kind of looked down for awhile and after thinking, she looked up and asked us what she would need to do to be baptized here before she moved to England for school on the 21st and if it was still possible. It was when she said that that I just wanted to jump up and scream YES!!!!!!!!! hahaha. We told her she could be baptized as soon as the 7th, (yesterday) but she said she thought the 14th was good. We told her to pray about it that night and told her we would call tomorrow. I was so excited I almost just wanted to run home that night!! packed with energy!!! So the next day, after praying what seemed like a thousand times and thanking Heavenly Father, we called her and she said that she felt great about the 14th and that she had already told her parents about it and they are fine!! They even want to have us over for dinner. Anyway, she said she is positive about it and nothing is going to get in the way!!! The next day, on Friday, we taught her the commandments and she didn't have a problem with any of them. On Saturday, we had the interview and she passed with ease!!! On Sunday, we informed all the members and they announced it in Sacrament and so now, we just have to help her stay firm in her faith until Sunday!!!!! It is so amazing how the Lord blesses the lives of his children. She was so completely prepared and now we get to be a part of this experience of her entering into the Gospel!!! What a blessing, not only to her, but to me and Elder Bolough as well!!! We are SO EXCITED for her!!!!!! So that is what's going on here!!! It really is a miracle!! Banks had told me that this area hadn't baptized in a little over a year. So it has been some time, but seeing this miracle built my faith that the elects are out there in every area. Now, we are continuing our search for all the other elect people out there!!! We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father for this amazing blessing!!!!
So, that has been the main focus of our work this week. The rest has just been knocking and passing by our investigators!!!
So you guys are going to the Tetons this upcoming week huh? You will all have to take pictures for me. You all know how much I love the Tetons!!!! I will be praying that you guys don't have to deal with the bears hahaha!! You will all have to let me know how it goes!!! I am so excited to go with you guys next year.!!!
Well, that's about it for this week!!! I love you all so much. I am amazed that I have been blessed with such an incredible family now that I have seen so many broken and destroyed families!!! I'm truly blessed to have every one of you!! I know this gospel is true, and I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who gave us his son Jesus Christ, to set our perfect example, and to make it possible to live together in the presence of Heavenly Father and Himself as an eternal family. I love you all. Talk to ya next week!!!!
Elder Willes

August 1st email...

I'm very glad to hear that you guys got my pictures!!!!!! I hope you liked them!!! I miss the Azores and Cacem as well. Those areas will always have a lasting impact on my life!! I'm sure I will always remember this area too though!!
This week was a pretty good week!!! We got a cool new family for investigators!!! The parents are named Luzia and William and their kids are Andre and William!!! The attatched pic is of us and Andre!!! They are an incredible family!! We taught them the restoration on Tuesday and the spirit was so strong!! They seem really interested and we left them Book of Mormons!!! They have great potential, so we will be praying and working with them!!
That same day, we had a bit of a miracle happen with us. First off, I will tell you about a woman named Maria that we are now working with!! She is the close friend of a member and one Sunday the member brought her to church and introduced us to her!! She told us as well, that she needed a blessing because she constantly had horrible headaches and her health wasn't the greatest. (this was almost three weeks ago by the way) So we did that after church and she said when she could get it approved, we could go over to her house because her own house makes her uncomfortable for some reasons we don't know. But she wanted a blessing on her house as well. Anyway, we scheduled it for Tuesday. Well, as we were getting ready, the member who was supposed to give us a ride was not answering his phone and the area that Maria lives is in is a town called Pinhal Novo in our area that i don't know at all. I had only been there twice!! Well, I felt we still needed to give the blessing somehow, but I had no clue how we would get there!! We said our dinner prayer and as we prayed, I felt, and knew that this blessing would happen that night. So we took a little leap of faith, and took the bus to Pinhal Novo. When we got off, I called the member that is Maria's friend ( and also neighbor) to ask for directions and what we should do. She told us that another member lived in Pinhal Novo that could give us a ride and then gave us directions to his house!!! Considering that I don't know where anything is in that town, we tried our best, and it was difficult. Finally, we arrived to where we thought was that members house of whom she gave us the directions to, and I knocked, half expecting it to be the wrong house, and if it was, we would just do a normal door contact and then catch the last bus home. But to my surprise, the member Manuel answered the door and gave us a ride. I thanked Heavenly Father the whole way there. I honestly still don't know how we found his house. It was pretty cool!! Anyway, we gave her house the blessing and now we will be teaching her and her husband as well with the help of her member friend. Oh and when we asked her how her headaches were, she said that she had not had one headache ever since that day that we had given her the blessing!! I was amazed!! Once again, I thanked Heavenly Father. It reminded me of that Saturday morning before I gave my farewell talk. When I woke up, I was so sick I couldn't even stand. But Dad gave me a blessing and within the hour I felt great!!! What an amazing privilege it is to have the priesthood in our church!!! I'll never forget those experiences.
Other than that we have been doing tons of knocking!! We are searching really hard for the elect!! The other day, a man walked up and he contacted us!! It was interesting!!! Apparently, he is a choir director here in Lisbon and he was asking us about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!! He absolutely loves their music. So we got his number and gave it to President and we also gave President's number to him!!! It will be great!! We will start teaching him as well!!!!!
Right now, I am reading Jesus the Christ as part of my personal study, as well as the Book of Mormon!! Wow, Jesus the Christ is incredible!!! I am constantly learning new things and my testimony is growing every day!! It makes me want to be the best servant I can for my Savior!!!!
So that's how the mission is going! I miss you all so much and I love you all!! I want you all to know that I have such a strong testimony of this Gospel!! I know it is true with all of my heart and despite what others may think of our church, my faith will remain unshaken by the world's opinions!! We get a lot of questions and concerns about the church that is negative and false. But it's so great to be able to share the truth!! I love you all!! Talk to ya next week!!!!!
Elder Willes

July 25th email....

Hey guys!! It's so great to hear from you all again!! It sounds like summer is going great for you all despite the heat!! It's pretty hot here, but probably not as bad as in Utah. However, we do have to deal with the humidity factor over here in Portugal!!!
I'm really enjoying my new companion!! He is just a great guy and doesn't get discouraged even when the day is going really rough!! He has a sense of humor even in the toughest times, so this transfer is going to be great!! We are still working with Luana, although unfortunately she wants to wait until she is back in England to get baptized so that she can be with all her old college friends and have their support!! We will not give up on her though!! We will focus on baptizing her this upcoming weekend!!! Our Moldavian investigator Nicholay came to church for the first time yesterday!! He had been taught by the elders everything about 2 years ago, and still hadn't been to church, and we finally got him to go yesterday. So I'd say that's some great progress with him!!! I pray that everything gets worked out with his woman and that way he can be baptized, because he knows that our church is the true church!!! Those are the situations with our two main investigators right now. However, we found a couple of new investigators this last of them being a very strong evangelistic lady who screams amen and hallelujah when we pray. So it will be interesting. We are excited to share the restored gospel with them!!! We did a lot of knocking this past week as well. It's been good, but interesting!! Yesterday we had water poured on us from the second story of an apartment building. It was funny... at first I was really frustrated, and then I realized how hot it was and how refreshing that water was. All of my frustration went away hahaha!!! So the search for the elect continues while we deal with those that we have right now!!!
Elder Bolough is in his fourth transfer right now!! So he is still in that learning stage ya know? But he is a great elder and always ready to work!!! He is from Colorado, some city close to Denver!! He is about my height and has blonde hair as well!! It's really funny...people have stopped guessing that we are from America and guessing England!! So far so good with my companions!! I've yet to have a companion I can't get along with!! What a blessing!!!
I'm proud of you guys that you decided to go to the Tetons this summer!! I was a little worried for a while that you guys wouldn't carry on the tradition. But I knew you would all come to your senses hahaha just kidding!! But I'm very excited for you guys!! You know how much I love the Tetons!! Be sure to take lots of pictures for me!! Oh and someone needs to take my place in waking up at 5 in the morning to get some sweet morning shots!!!
I believe that's about all this week. I love you all so much!! I know this gospel is true and everyday I always thank my Heavenly Father for blessing me with that knowledge as well as my family!! I'm so grateful for my Savior and His sacrifice for us!! I love doing His work and offering these people His love whether they choose to accept it or not!! I love you all!! Talk to ya next week!!
Helaman 5:12
Elder Willes

July 18th, 2011 email...

Ok guys, well here's the news!! Last Tuesday night, we had that lesson with Luana and it was an incredible lesson!!! We all could feel the spirit strong, and we knew that Luana could feel it too. Well we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and really focused on baptism!! At the end of the lesson, we invited her to be baptized that following Sunday and assured her that we had prayed about her and we know that's what God wants for her. She told us she really wants to be baptized yay!!!!!!!!!, but she wasn't sure about that Sunday, so we pretty much said,"Let's ask God right now" and we had a kneeling prayer with her!! The spirit was super strong. It was incredible, but she was still a little unsure about Sunday, so we left her 2 Nephi Chapter 31 to read at her house and invited her to pray sincerely and specifically about a date, and then we would call her in the morning and see how her prayer went!!! She did just that, and as she did this, we fasted and prayed. But she was still unsettled about that Sunday, and was busy the rest of the week so that we couldn't meet with her. Ah, such a fight, but at least we know now that she wants to be baptized. We told her the sooner the better because she is ready. She also wants to learn more about the doctrine and the church so that she can feel more prepared, but we told her that she will REALLY start learning when she gets the gift of the Holy Ghost which comes after baptism!! So we are continuing with her!!! SHE IS SO CLOSE!!!!!!!!!
As for Nicholay, he wants to do a family night with his family and a member's family, but he is too scared of his wife because his wife really doesn't like us because we are a part of another church. It is a tough situation with Nicholay and he still isn't married, but there is no way we are going to give up on him!!!!
Oh, just to ease the tention about transfers, I will be staying here in Vasco da Gama!!! No surprise there, I was pretty sure I would be staying!! It's great, I will get to see the baptism of Luana and hopefully Nicholay, and many other people that I still haven't met!!! Twill be sad to see Banks leave though. He isn't going too far...just on the other side of the river. But it was great serving with him!!! I have been blessed with all of my companions thus far in the mission and I'm praying it stays that way until the end haha. My new comp's name is Elder Bolough or something like that!!! He is a pretty young elder!! This will only be his fourth transfer, and I actually just talked to him on the phone!!! He seems like a really great elder!! He has a lot of energy and he seemed really happy!! He told me he'll need help with his Portuguese though. Maybe I'll put him through the Elder Banks and Willes challenge of nonstop Portuguese for a whole transfer and no English!!!!!!! That'll help him hahahaha. So we'll see how it goes. I'll meet up with him tomorrow!!!!
Yestereday at church, one of the members brought her neighbor named Maria who is now a new investigator. I think she really liked church which is great!!! Me and Banks were asked to give her a blessing after church because she has been having horrible headaches and can't even think along with other health problems!! It was a really great experience though!! Elder Banks did the annointing and I sealed the annointing and gave the blessing!! It was really cool. I didn't know what I would say. But I felt really light during the blessing and it was a great experience. After the blessing, she gave like a huge sigh of relief, almost like she immediately felt better. When we asked her a little bit later, she said she felt much better!!! Incredible!!! We will be going to her house sometime next week to teach her and also bless the house because apparently the house is pretty sketchy!! So it will be a great opportunity!!
That's about it for this week!! I'm excited for this next transfer!! Miracles are going to happen!! Thank you all for the emails!! I love them so much!! I'm so thankful for the wonderful family I have!! I love all you guys so much and I'll talk to yall next week!!! Ate Logo!!! Tchau!!!
Elder Willes

July 11th email....

Well, I can't believe it!! Time has once again flown by here in Portugal!! I am now in my last week of the transfer!! I can't believe it. It feels like I got here yesterday!! I think I will stay, but who knows with the combining of the mission? I don't know what to expect. There will be a lot of changes in the mission!!!
I have to apologize for not writing yesterday!! We had a Zone Conference sneak up on us that we didn't know about until Sunday night. So we went over to Lisbon and spent the day there at Zone Conference and President gave us permission to do email and groceries today!!! It was good. He just got us all excited to have a week of miracles before the transfer ends!! I think we might just have a miracle as well, because we met a Brazilean girl a couple of days ago that was living and going to school in England, and apparently, she was receiving lessons over the phone from sisters in Salt Lake!! She had been reading the Book of Mormon online. So when we talked to her, we had the opportunity of giving her her own Book of Mormon to read!!! She is a really special investigator and we have already prayed about her many times!!! She is ready guys!!! We are totally going to mark her for baptism this night to be baptized this weekend!!! We have so much work to do, but we are ready to do it because we both felt strongly that she is ready and needs to be baptized this weekend. We have a small window of time to work with here because she goes back to England soon, so please pray for her!!! We set up a family night with some members and invited her to it!! We will be doing that tonight!! We will be using the dart gun you sent me to make the lesson fun for the 7 year old Gabriel!! It's going to be sweet!!! As for Nicholay, we went over with a member and taught and talked to him. We discovered a bit more about his problems. His wife really doesn't like us at all and so it's a little weird when she is around. But one of the things we offered to do was combine his family with the family of the member that taught with us, and have a big old family night so that they can see how important families are in our church. I think that will really help him. He said he will talk to his wife and see what she says!!!!! I sure hope she agrees!!! Other than that, our search for new investigators goes on!! and what a search it is.
This transfer has been a very good transfer!! Me and Elder Banks have fought and fought (not with each other,but in the Lord's battle ha), but haven't seen much success on the baptism side. I won't say that this area is weak because I know that there are elects here and that we just have to find them. I did however grow, and learn a lot this transfer. Me and Banks set some pretty cool goals. For one of them, he wanted to get better at Portuguese, so we set a goal to speak nonstop Portuguese the whole transfer even in the house... not a lick of English. It helped us both. Sometimes I feel like I'm special because I finally feel comfortable with the language. But there is ALWAYS, more to learn and I learned a lot!! Needless to say, it is super weird when we would speak English on pday, and we have both caught each other sleep talking in Portuguese hahahha.... pretty funny stuff!!! My testimony also continues to grow. Wow, the mission has done sooooo much for me!!!! I am truly thankful that we are all a part of this one true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Well, I feel sorry for you guys over there in the heat but I don't know what happened over here. All of the sudden, the weather has been incredible. We finally have nice cool breezes, and the sun is always out, but somehow, it isn't too hot!!! I don't know how long it will stay like this though... hopefully until winter hahaha!!
Well, that's about all this week. I'll let you guys know how all of this works out next week. I love you all. You are always in my prayers!!!
Love Elder Willes