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

July 4th email...

Happy 4th of July everyday!! What a great day today is!! We won't be celebrating here in Portugal, but I'm totally celebrating with you guys in spirit!! Just so you all know though, I have had enough fireworks of my own to deal with over here!! This last week, the city of Montijo where we live has been celebrating their summer parties!!! Let's just say it's like Peach Days (mullet days), times 10 and stretched out over a whole week. Booths are everywhere in the streets, carnavals, concerts, drunks on every corner, but let's not forget the best part... that our apartment is smack dab in the middle of all the commotion. Needless to say, it is quite hard to sleep at night with all the noise outside!! It's been really crazy over here!! Last night, me and E Banks were awakened by a stream of fireworks at midnight!!! Crazy stuff!!
So I got my package about 2 hours ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you all so much!! It made my day!!! I absolutely love everything that you guys did for me!!!!! I'll thank you all individually as well, but thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!! I love you guys, you guys are the best!!!!!!
The work is getting a bit better over here!!!! A couple of days ago, we went to Nicholay's house and reviewed the gospel of Jesus Christ with him!! We really focused on baptism. At the end of the lesson, we invited him to be baptized and to our surprise, he told us that he knew that our baptism was 100 percent correct!!! The guy is legit and super golden. We just have one problem in the way, he is living with his woman and he is not legally married, they also have a kid!!! They would like to get married right there in the house, but there is only one problem, that they are both from different countries and I don't think they are legal yet. So it may be difficult with all the paper work. But, we testified to him that this was the Lord's will for him and read 1 Nephi 3:7 with him to assure him that there is always a way prepared to follow the Lord. We just have to find that path!!! So we will keep working with him and pray that things get worked out!!!!
We have started working a lot more with the members in our branch!!! We need their help here because they know a lot more about this area than me and Elder Banks do!!! There is also a girl named Onara, that has already been taught everything and is ready to be baptized. She wants to as well, we just need the permission of the mother. We already got it from the father!!! We have been praying and fasting that the mother's heart will be softened!!! I feel like miracles are going to happen here in this area. I'm very excited!!!!
So , that's what's going on with the work. We have also been visiting a lot of less active members as well. Another way to build the kingdom right? Reactivate members!! We talked to a really nice less active yesterday named Maria who just loves missionaries. It was super great!!!
Last night was quite a sweet experience!! I got to eat snails for the first time in my life!!! We ate them with members!!! Here they are called caracois, instead of escargot!! It actually wasn't too bad, even a little spicy!!!! I ate a whole bowl of them. I will show you guys some pictures, not until next week though!! We are on the stupid computers today!!!!!
That's how things are here on the mission!!! I love you guys!!! Wow, can you guys believe if it were a normal year of summer, we would have just got back from the Tetons!! Time flies like crazy!!!
Well, ya'll better have a spectacular and amazingly fun 4th of july!!! That's a commandment from me ha!!! Go America!!! And remember everybody, 1 Nephi chapter 13!!!! You should all read it. I know Nat has recently read it!!! It's perfect for the festivities ha!! Love you guys, talk to you all next week!!!!
Elder Willes

The Burning of the One Year Down Tie!!! (June 27th email)

Hey guys!! Thank you all for the emails once again. I love hearing about what goes on back at home!!! The mission is going great!! I can't believe how fast time flies on the mission. Things are going good!! We have had a ton of problems with appointments falling through, but on the positive side, we are getting really good at knocking doors right? ha. And every once in a while we find someone who is interested, so we have been getting some new investigators!!! It's been good!!
The other day, me and Elder Banks decided to go through the area book, so we took our hour of comp study and hardcore looked and read about everyone in the area book that was being taught!! There were people in there clear back from like 2002, so we have been getting their addresses and going by them!! It's been great!! The majority of old ones have moved, or weren't home. Then a lot of them told us they were busy and to come back another day, but we found a man named Nicolay who is actually from Russia, but speaks Portuguese!! Apparently the elders in the past were making some progress with him, but he got a job and worked all day and didn't have the time to keep meeting with them!!! Incredible guy though, he has already read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, so that tells ya something. Anyways, he answered his door, invited us in, and we got to know him and found out a lot about him!! He still remembers the lessons and the story of the restoration!! He is pretty legit!! Apparently, he lost his job not too long ago and then was surprised to see us show up. Crazy how stuff like that works out huh?? Interesting to see how the Lord works!!
The weather here has been ridiculous lately!! It wasn't too bad until this last week. Then mother nature just decided to go nuts on us and turn the heat and humidity on!!! Oh wow, I have never felt such heat!! Yesterday, it was about 95 degrees outside, which is like Utah and isn't horribly bad right? Well, it's also a lot more humid than it has been lately, not to add the fact that there wasn't really any wind, or breeze, and not a cloud in the sky!!! Me and Banks are drinking loads of water right now ha ha. I hope I get used to it soon. I'm sure I will. It's not a problem though, we will just tough it out. It's funny though. We sweat quite a bit, in fact I haven't stopped sweating since the beginning of this week. Even in my sleep I sweat!! It's kind of funny because the natives don't seem to have a problem with it, but we are dying hahahaha!!!
Well, we are also working with a kid named Miguel who has already been challenged to baptism in the past, accepted, and then fell through. We passed by his house on Thursday and talked a bit with him and he said he would like to come to church. So we passed by on Saturday to arrange things and as we approached his house, we heard his voice and he was talking with his family, but when we knocked, his mom answered the door and told us that he wasn't home. So it was really annoying and frustrating, but we will continue to get in contact with him. We have prayed about him and both felt like he needs to be baptized!!!
That's about all this week folks!! I can't believe only 3 more weeks of this transfer, and then the mission combines into the whole country!! It will be interesting to see what happens!! I love you all!! Talk to ya next week!!!
Elder Willes

Hey guys!! This last week has been pretty great, actually more of a roller coaster ride!! It is so crazy being transferred!! Whenever people hear that I am about a year into the mission and this is only my third area they are amazed ha ha. Its allowed me to get really close to the people and accustomed to them in my areas so far, so that is good!!! Speaking of about a year, I will hit my year mark this week!! Wow I cannot believe how fast time flies. I still feel like I'm one of the younger ones in the mission but that is not the case!! I'll have to savor my last year with everything I've got!! I hear that the 2nd year goes by even faster!! Unreal!!
Well, me and Kessler got on the plane and left on Tuesday morning!! Wow it was hard to leave the members, investigators and elders on that island, but it's ok because I've got more great experiences lying ahead of me!!! Vasco da Gama is a HUGE area!! It covers so much land and they are also pretty big cities!! I really miss the islands, but at the same time, it is so nice to be back in the city surrounded by people on all sides. This area has been progressing a little slow in the past from what I hear, but it seems like there is some great potential here!!! For example, the other day, me and Elder Banks knocked doors and got about 17 references in one day!! We are just praying that these references are elects!!! It's also interesting to see the cultural diversity again!! On the Azores, it was pretty much just Portuguese people, but over here it is African, Brazilean, Indian, Chinese, of course Portuguese, and pretty much people from all over the world. Vasco Da gama isn't too far away from Lisbon!! So we kind of live in the melting pot of cultures!!!
We have 2 people we are working with right now for baptism. One is a guy named Jose from Angola, and another is a Portuguese guy named Leonel!! They are super closed to baptism. They have already been marked before, but fell through. Pretty much, their only struggle is smoking so we are praying for them. We hope to baptize them this upcoming weekend!!
The branch is pretty cool!! It's a branch of quite a few members, but only about 45 of them are active. Still a pretty good sized branch considering we don't have a chapel. We have church here in an apartment building, but the spirit is still the same!! The members took me right in. I already feel like a friend to all of them, so it's going to be a great experience!! Next week we have Stake Conference!! It's the Setubal stake and supposedly, the Setubal ward is one of the biggest wards in all of Portugal, so I'm excited to see them all at stake conference!!!!
Elder Banks is a great Elder!! He is the same age as Elder Wiseman was, so he has been in the country ever since the end of December!! He has a strong desire for the work and works his butt off with the language!! Its going to be great!! Normally, I only spoke Portuguese outside of the house, but me and Banks are starting a goal of speaking Portuguese 24/7!! It's going to be great, I'm excited!!!
Well, I think that's about all the news for this week. I'm enjoying my new area!! Thank you all for being such an amazing family!! I love you all so much!!! I pray for you all everyday!!! Talk to ya next time. OH and here is my new address!!!!
Elder Coulton Willes
Rua José Ladislau de Sousa
N29, 2esq
2870 Montijo, Portugal

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just to let you all know!! I had a wonderful birthday here in the azores!!! The American members took real good care of me! I had 2 different birthday cakes at different members houses and I have been full all weekend!! I don't think I will ever eat again haha!!!
Well, I have news for you guys. There will only be one elder that is staying in our tight group of 4 on the island and that will be my comp Elder Wiseman!!! He will also be the only American in the house, funny huh? Two African elders are coming over and one from Belgium!!! Elder Wilder will be branch president in Angra on the other side of the island, and me and Kessler will be flying back to the continent to work. He will be a financial secretary and I am going to serve in Vasco DeGama with Elder Banks!!! Im excited. I think Vasco DeGama is part of Lisbon and its down by the big Rio Tejo!! So I've been going through some mixed feelings right now!!! I was really shocked to hear I would be leaving, but it will be good and I'm glad to go wherever the Lord wants me!!! I'll miss these members so much!! I have made some really good friendships here on this island and it will be really hard to leave, but I will never forget them. So tonight I bid my goodbyes to them and tomorrow me and Elder Kessler get on the plane and leave. So I will send you guys my new address next week when I get it!!!
It will also be a little tough because we are finally coming around with our investigator Nelson!! He actually has a desire to come to church now and he reads the Book of Mormon every night!! He told me on Sunday that Saturday night, he had a friend over and Nelson was reading to his kid outloud, and when he finished, his friend overheard and said "wo, read that again" and he did and the friend said "I like that" and they read another chapter and he said "I like that, how can I get one?" So Nelson took him to church on Sunday and he really enjoyed the testimonies!! We will be going by his house this week, well, not we, but Wiseman and his comp. So I'll be praying for him. We were going to mark Nelson for the 18th, so I'll be praying for him!!!
Testimony meeting was great!! The branch president, President Eves' brother and his wife are vistiting for a while and they don't speak a lick of Portuguese but they wanted to share their testimonies to the congregation so they went up and pointed at me to translate!! It was actually a really cool experience!! Their testimonies were very strong and I was able to help translate that message to our branch!! Nelson loved the meetings!!!
So thats how the work is, and I hope it continues and I hope this branch grows. I will really miss these people!!
Random story of the week, it's summer now, so the bull fights in the streets have started everywhere especially on the weekends. Well, I was walking with my comp to our next appointment and we turned the corner and there was a HUGE crowd in the street!! I thought "hmmm, must be a bull fight" but I couldn't see the bull and there were a bunch of children in the street so I could see they had not yet let the bull out of the box. Well, me and Wiseman were just kind of pushing our way through people when we ran into the Praia Elder's investigator's children. They yelled "ELDERS" and gave us a big hug like they usually do, when one of them looked at us and laughed and said "Elders, what are you doing in the street, are you going to run with the bull?" After she said that, I looked behind me and noticed that none of those children were in the street anymore and that it was just a bunch of guys getting ready to mess with this bull. Immediatley after, I heard one firework go off, which means they let the bull out and out runs this huge massive bull!!! So me and wiseman hurried and got out of the street and climbed up on someone's yard so we didn't get slaughtered by the beast. But we were trapped after that because the only way we could leave the bull fight was to get on the street and go to a backstreet where there wasn't the bull fight. So, when the bull was really far off, we got down and went to our next appointment!!! These bull fights are CRAZY!!!!
Well, thats about all I have for you guys this week!!! I hope you all have an amazing week!! I love you all. You're the best family ever!! I'll be leaving my family here on the island and I don't know if I'll ever see them again, but I know I always have you guys!! I love you all so much!!! Talk to ya next week!!!
Elder Willes

This week was a pretty good week. Me and Elder Wiseman got a lot of work done this week and we have seen a lot of progression when it comes to getting new investigators. We are still in the same boat with the baptisms. I feel we are very very close with Nelson and Maria though, they are just waiting for an answer to their prayers about the Book of Mormon. I think we are going to talk about what an answer could be like with them. They both say that they feel good when they read it and that they believe it is true. In reality, this is an answer in and of itself. Anyways, i really want to see them baptized before i leave the Island and its possible that i could leave during the next transfers on june 7th, so, we are really praying and working hard with them.
Weather has finally shaped up here. The clouds have dissapeared and finally we are seeing the sun shine island weather. So weather wise, things are going great on the island, and i think that it is also helping people to be a lot more happy and acceptive surprisingly enough!!!
Well, this could very well be my last week. Personally, i hope that it isnºt. Work is really tough here, but i still donºt want to leave. I have so much friends here and i love the people!! But then again, that is what i said about my first area and then i got adjusted to the people here. So i think that is just how the mission works, so ill be happy with wherever Heavenly Father assigns me to go!!!!
Well, a new american family moved in recently and we had the opportunity to go and visit them this past week. The husband is a recent convert. Very recent. He was baptized right before they moved to this island with the air force. So, we are going to reteach them the missionary lessons. We are going over every friday, and they will feed us deliscious american food and then afterwards, we teach them a lesson. We went last wednesday and Bro lujan let us try on his sweet pilot helmet, so thats what we are doing in the attatched photo!!!
Well, time is shorter than usual on the internet today because we are leaving early to do some service to a member family, so i am super sorry for the super short email, but i think i have told you just about everything new. Oh and the island is partying right now until the end of the summer. Huge festivals and stuff, its pretty crazy!!!
Anyways. I love you all so much and i miss you all like crazy!!! You guys are the best. LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Willes

Well, another great week has passed by out on the azores, however, i canºt believe how fast time is flying by!! Itºs pretty trippy!!! I almost wish it would slow down, im really enjoying being here on the azores!!!
Well, we have gotten around to inviting more people to be baptized and talking about baptism. we had a lesson with our investigator maria on wednesday and we talked about baptism. She told us that she still hasnºt got a certain answer about the book of mormon, but she loves reading it and she feels "good" or the spirit every time she reads it. So we told her to keep reading and praying and have patience and to realize that the answer isnºt always a huge thing, but it could also be these "good feelings" Then we asked her if when she knew that the book of mormon was true, if she would act on that answer and follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized and she told us that she had already been baptized as a kid. So we focused on how the Gospel was restored through Joseph Smith and that is why the Book of Mormon is so important. By the time we left, i felt she understood and she told us, "lets hope i get an answer this week" so we are really praying for her. She is so close!!!
With Nelson, we got him to come to church again and it was really good. We had the branch presidentºs brother over to visit and his family, they will be here for 2 months, but he spoke in english and Elder Wilder Translated for the branch. He talked about his experiences in the war in Iraq and related a certain experience when they were attacked to being prepared Spiritually. Nelson was apart of the portuguese military once so that was right up his alley. When i asked him how he liked it he said that he loved it!!! So that was great for him. He mumbled something about baptism as well that i didnºt catch and i was about to ask him what he said after sacrament, but i was bombarded with everyone and he left. So we will go back tonight and see what he said and talk to him. We are really praying for him as well. Those are our two main people right now.
Well, some of the american families are starting to move, but thankfully, there are new families coming into the military branch.
This week was pretty fun, it was full of activities. On Thursday, we had a primary activity that was centerd around health and the word of wisdom. Sister eves taught a really cool lesson and then she turned the time over to us elders, so we took the kids outside and ran a bunch of relay races with them. It was a lot of fun. we also taught them how to do some cool exercises. so it went really well.
On saturday, we had an integration night with the portuguese branch. It was super fun and successful. The members showed up and we had a barbeque and just played games and talked with each other. Me and the elders were throwing a football and the portuguese kids were interested so we all played keep away and such. it was just a really fun night which i thought was definitley worth while, because i think it made people want to come to church the next day, or have a desire. Anyways, it was really great.
Work wise, i think thats about all the update. As usual, me and Elder Wiseman are always trying to find new investigators, so the knocking and asking goes on. But its great. Im loving the mission so much. I canºt believe transfers are on the 7th. I hope i stay for one more, it will be really hard to leave a lot of the people here because i have established so much friendships, but im excited for whatever happens.
Well, i love you all so much. thank you all for everything. I canºt wait to hear from you guys again. Have a great week. Tchau!!!
Elder Willes

This week was pretty good!! The focus of this week was getting new investigators!! We also had interviews with president torgan which went really well, but it made the week a little bit crazy. The assitants had to sleep at our house and they went on divisions with us for about two days!!! The interviews went really good though!! As always, we learned a ton and it was good to see president Torgan again for the second time since ive been out here on these islands haha. But it was a really good and uplifting meeting. Well, we finally got around to trying to get one of our investigators marked this week named nelson. About a 33 year old guy that lives alone and has a kid that he can see on the weekends. We had tried to mark him for baptism in the past, but he wouldnºt listen telling us that he had already been baptized and didnºt need to be baptized again. Well, when we came around to it last monday at his house, once i asked him, he got a big goofey grin on his face and just sat there flipping me off. I was a little annoyed. He gave me the same excuse, that he had already been baptized. I decided to keep trying though so i told him to bear with me. I was like "i know you have already been baptized, youve told me a thousand times, just bear with me hear" well, we shared the scripture with him i think in acts 19, where paul rebaptizes a bunch of people because they didnºt have the gift of the Holy Ghost. So we shared that with him and that got him thinking, and by the end of the lesson, his mood had changed completley, so what we did is we told him to read the intro to the book of mormon one more time and pray about itºs truth, then to pray about if baptism was really right for him and he told us that he would do it. We could tell that he was really thinking about how he didnºt have the gift of the Holy Ghost. We passed him by a couple of days later and he told us that his prayer went good and that he felt good, but he had felt better before. He still doesnºt want to get baptized because even though he knows the book of mormon is true and believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet, he thinks that all churches are right because they talk about God. I donºt think he fully understands the restoration, so next time we go back there, that will be our main focus. We are going to reteach the restoration.
Other than him, we met some really cool new investigators this last week. 2 of them, a mother and a daughter are practicing catholics and they told us that they felt good when we spoke to them. They said the way we teach them is different than when the Pastor or whatever speaks at her church. We told her that she was feeling the spirit, so we have some high hopes for some of these knew people!!!
I gave another talk in the portuguese branch yesterday. It went pretty good. It was on "using and bettering our talents." This upcoming week should be pretty interesting. On thursday, we have a primary activity that will be on "the word of wisdom" or really just healthy living. Sister Eves will talk to the kids about what to eat thats healthy and whatnot and maybe bring some healthy snacks, and then me and the other 3 Elders are in charge of the excercise part, so we are probably going to have them do like relay races and push up contests and what not. Maybe play some catch or some soccer. It will be fun. Then on Saturday, we have integration night where all the members come and just do fun activities with each other to get to know one another a little bit better!! So it will be a lot of fun. And once again, we are praying that we can finally mark someone for baptism this week. The work continues to go on!!
I will finish the new testament on Friday for the first time reading all the way through. I have really enjoyed it and i have learned so much more. After that we will be reading the pearl of great price which shouldnºt take long to finish at all. All the while making sure to read the Book of Mormon as well daily. After i finish the pearl of great price, the only standard work that i wonºt have read will be the old testament, which i started in cacem and got to 1st chronicols, so about half way done, and when i have time again, i will continue and finish the old testament as well. Thats one of my goals is to have read all the standard works by the time i come home!! Im learning so much, its great!!!
Well, thats about it this week on my side!!! I appreciate all of your emails. i love hearing from you guys and hearing about what goes on at home!! I hope all continues to go well for you guys. I keep you in my prayers every day. I love you all so much. Canºt wait to talk to you all next week!! Tchau!!!!!
Elder Willes

Hey guys!!!
It was so good to talk to you all!!!! That was so amazing. I hope i am in an area that allows me to skype during Christmas!!! It was so good to see all of your faces and hear your voices!! Me and the other elders were talking last night and we said its a good thing its pday today because after we all talked with our families, that's like the only thing we could think about!! So thank you so much for talking with me.
So its really rainy in Brigham huh? Welcome to my world ha. It is currently raining outside and its very annoying because we were going to play soccer today and maybe throw a football at the beach. But no problem, we will probably just have another intense dart gun war inside our house. But yeah, the weather is crazy here. I always loved the rain before i came to the island of Terceira, and not i despise it hahaha.
Anyways, i think i told you all yesterday how things are going work wise. We are still trying to mark those few people for baptism and it is a very long process. We need to get them to church but sometimes they can be such slackers. I didnºt mention however that on Saturday, me and Elder Wiseman pretty much knocked doors all day and we had a surprising amount of success. We also passed some people by that we only had talked to once that said we could come back that didnºt seem to interested, but we passed them by on saturday and we found some people that seem pretty elect. So we have a number of new investigators to work with now as well as those ones that are so close!!! Yay!!!
Right now, in scripture study, i am currently reading in 1st timothy!!!I Its going great!!! I should be finishing the new testament on the 20th according to this study schedule. I love it, im learning new things every day!!!
Well, i apologize that this email is so much shorter than usual, but we talked so much last night and it was so great that that's really about all i can think of to say right now. haha. Thank you all so much. You guys are the best family!! I love you all so much and im so grateful for you. I cant wait to talk to ya next week!! Tchau!! Bejinhos, Bracos, Adeus!!!!
Elder Willes

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Independence Day for Portugal...

Hey guys!!!! First off, I have to apologize that I didn't write to you guys yesterday. Yesterday was 25 de Abril which is Portugal's Independence Day and literally EVERY place was closed!!! It was pretty messed up. I was so anxious to email you guys. So that's why I haven't sent an email until now!!! Sorry!!!!!
Anyway, this last week was a week full of activities. It was a really great week. On Wednesday, we had a Primary Activity that all of us Elders helped out with. While the primary kids watched a video clip of Jesus Christ and decorated easter baskets, me and the other elders went outside and we hid easter eggs for the kids!!! It was really cool. They really liked it. I think it was a bit different for them because the culture is a bit different here, but they really loved it!!!
Oh p.s. I'm staying here for yet a third transfer with the exact same Elders!!! Wow 3 transfers on the island already, wow how time flies!!!
Anyway, oh, last pday was fun!!! The weather was bad, so we all bought dart guns and had a war inside of our apartment. It was sick. Thats the picture you guys see.
Well, on Friday, we showed a film, Finding Faith in Christ, to a older couple . They are Americans. Anyway, it went really good. We could really feel the spirit in this film. At the end, they were both crying and I invited them to church. I was about to leave them a soft baptismal invite, when all the sudden the husband said he refused to move his religion. When I affirmed to him that all we were doing was inviting him to church so that he could see how it was he said, "Oh I see, you invite me to church this time and then next time you ask me to change my religion." Just being a real jerk about it. The sad thing is that his wife wants to go to church and she was really excited when we talked about Christ's baptism, but the husband is being difficult. The other day, we walked past their house, and I saw him lying out cold on the ground. I was terrified he had a stroke or something so I ran over there and started shaking him and talking to him. Well, next thing I know, Elder Wiseman points behind me and his wife is just standing there telling us not to bother and that she had it under control. Apparently he was just drunk out of his mind. I wanted to help him into the house, but he refused just mumbling. Crazy stuff!!!! So my prayers are going out to them.
Saturday was really cool. We worked throughout the day, but right after studies, we were invited over to lunch with a member. It was amazing. It was a full out cooked turkey dinner. Then that night, we had an integration night at the church where all the members come and get to know each other better and we all just played games.
Our Easter Sunday was amazing. We were invited to go over to a really cool American family's house for dinner named the Billmans. They are so cool. They are a really great family, mother, father, and 5 girls haha, at least you guys had at least one boy. It was great though. The food was amazing. I told Brother Billman it was an Easter miracle haha. Then while we were finishing up, they hid easter eggs just for us missionaries, so after we shared a message with them, we went on a quick easter egg hunt. It was so great!!!
Well, I'll let you guys know what happens with those we are trying to mark. I love you all so much and miss you. I hope you all had an amazing Easter!!! Keep me updated!! love you guys.
Elder Willes

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beautiful sunset on the Azores

hoje, eu vou escrever este email em portuguese para que vocês possem apreder este lingua tam bem, e quando eu volto para casa, todos nos vamos falar portuguese e ninguem vai perceber aquilo que estamos a dizer. Hahahahaha Estou a brincar convosco. tou a brincar!
So how is everyone doing!!! I love getting all your emails!!! It sounds like things are going great back at home!!
This week has been pretty good for us. We have several investigators that we are so close to getting baptized!!! I'm praying with all I've got!! We have a lady named Maria, another lady named Maria, an American named Helena, and a kid named Favio... all people that seem really golden to work with. So I'm praying that we can get them into the waters of baptism!!! We are also finding a bunch of new investigators!!! Last week, me and Elder Wiseman went to a tiny little beach town called Caldeira and knocked almost every door there. It went really well. We actually got quite a number of references and quite a number of new investigators, so we will be working a bit there now. The only problem is the JWs got there before us and so many of these people have the JW version of the Bible, which if you guys don't know, has been changed so much that they aren't allowed to even call it the Bible anymore. So they call it the New World Translation, or something like that. Oh well though. It shouldn't matter. We will just continue to go in there and share with them the truth!!!!!!!!!!!
Life is going great on the mission though!!!!! On Friday, I hit my 10 month mark. I woke up, looked at the date, and couldn't believe it!!!! I cannot believe I have been on the mission for 10 months now. It is unreal and a little bit freaky!!!! Time flies so darn fast!!! This upcoming week is also the last week of transfers. I should be staying. Usually missionaries stay on the island longer than just two transfers, but you never know. Elder Levitre left after two and he was positive that he was staying. Personally, I would really love to stay. I feel like we have worked really hard here and now we might finally see the miracles start happening!!! I have grown a lot here on this island. I have had a lot more responsibility here than I have had yet on my mission.
So Mothers Day is coming up and you guys know what that means. I can talk to y'all again!!!! Just something to think about, a lot of the missionaries here have been using Skype on Christmas and Mothers Day. We can actually use it. And it would be cool to see your guys' faces when we talk. If you guys wanted to do that, we could go over to a members and use their computers or something like that!!! So you guys talk about it and let me know. Wow it seems like just yesterday we talked on Christmas!!!
Wow, I'm super happy for the new Bishopric!!!! Wow, those guys are all so cool. I knew somehow that Brother Vellinga (Bishop Vellinga) would be the new bishop!!!! I totally called it!!!!
Well, that's about all this week. I love you all so much!! I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!!! Ill talk to y'all next week!!!! Tchau!!!
Much love, Elder Willes

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Still seeking for the earnest in heart...

It was a pretty good week this last week. At the beginning of the week, President Torgan challenged every couple in the mission to get 20 new investigators in one week. Well, it was a good challenge, so we set that as our goal and worked our guts out towards it!!!! Although we didn't get quite 20, we got 11 which is more than this area has had in a while for one week. Its going great though!!! We have been meeting some really cool people lately!!! Interesting to see what others believe, the best part though is helping them feel the love Heavenly Father has for them even at a simple door contact when we talk about prayer and say a prayer with them at their door.
As I'm sure you guys all know, the baptism for the Praia Elders happened this last Saturday!!! It went really great!! The spirit there was so strong. I'm so glad I could be a part of it and be there to support her!!! Always a truly amazing experience when someone enters the waters of baptism!!!! I have included a picture down at the bottom of the baptism!!!!
There is one thing I forgot to do in last weeks email, and that is wish Grandpa Joe a Happy Birthday. If you guys could please tell him that for me. Also, that's so awesome that little Jace will be turning 2. I still miss his super long hair though. Thats how I remember Jace ha. I make sure to point out his hair when I show members and investigators the family albums. P.S those family albums really actually do help with the missionary work. A lot of times, when we start talking about God's plan for us and the importance of families in his plan, I will show them the pictures of you guys back at home, and it honestly helps us establish a better relationship with our investigators. They always seem to open up more to us because we are sharing information about ourselves and whatnot. So Thanks for those amazing pictures. If at any time any one of you wants to send me another album, that would be super cool. hahah
So I cannot believe how fast time flies on the mission. It is absolutely unreal, and a little bit scary. In just 5 days, I will reach my 10 month mark. I'm learning to savor my experiences because without a doubt, I won't enjoy any other work near as much as I'm enjoying the Lords work.
This week, we didn't have much time to meet with the people we wanted to mark, but this week we will be working to mark them for baptism. We will be praying a lot and relying on the Lord always!!! Ill let you guys know how that goes next week.
I can't believe we are getting a new bishopric. Thats crazy!!!!!! You guys have to promise me you will go to Bishop Lewis, and Brother Bailey and Brother Thomas and tell them how much I appreciate them. Yeah let me know who the next bishop is though.
Well, thats the big news for this week. I hope you all have a splendid spring break. (random fact, did you guys know the Portuguese kids get 2 weeks off for spring break. Crazy huh?) I can't wait to hear from you all next week. I love you all so much. Ate Proximo. Tchau Tchau!! Bejinhos!!!! Adeus!!! Bye Bye!!!
Elder Willes

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hello my wonderful family!!!!!!!
I'm very glad to hear that the package arrived!! That didn't take too long. I also sent home my next 600 or so pictures a week ago, so be looking for those, they haven't come yet have they?
This week has been pretty good. We have found a number of new people to teach and we are looking at people who we want to mark for baptism this next week. I feel like we are already teaching some pretty elect people, we just have to follow the spirit to find their needs and do accordingly!!!!!
I'm super excited for General Conference. Its going to be a big weekend this upcoming week. Yes we will be able to see it here on the island. As a matter of fact, the American branch is having a big old potluck lunch before the first session, and we will be able to watch it in English in the church. We as missionaries are all over that. We have been playing some random sessions of previous general conferences on a tiny DVD player in our house during lunch everyday just because we are excited. In one of the talks, it was said that "Satan trembles when he sees even the weakest of saints on their knees." That phrase is flippin' awesome. Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you guys. It really reminds you of how powerful prayer really is. Its great to think that at any moment and in any situation, we can say a prayer to Heavenly Father and He is always listening. I think sometimes we forget or take for granted what a privilege prayer is, at least I do sometimes. So that was good, it really reminded me to pray even more sincerely.
So the Elders of Praia will be having a baptism this week!!!! Yay!!! It is a 14 year old girl named Catarina!! She is super cool. Seeing as how I'm the district leader now, I have the opportunity of conducting her baptismal interview. I'm very excited. It will be my first one. She seems very excited to be baptized!!!!!!
Work is going good. Like I said, right now we are working with what we have and giving it all we've got to find new investigators everyday.
I'm loving my daily personal studies right now. I love reading in the New Testament. There is so much scripture in there that we can use. Every verse is another teaching that we can apply to our lives!! Incredible. Right now I am in Mark chapter nine. I love reading about the Savior's life, ministry,miracles,etc. Super cool.
Elder Kessler left for Lisbon yesterday and he will be coming back on Tuesday morning. He has a leadership meeting, so right now we get to be in a triplet., Elder Wiseman, and Elder Wilder. Its tight. We are going to tear it up these next two days. ha.
Hmmmm random events that happened...Pretty much all four of us wrote the same thing in our journal on Saturday night. Something really random and funny happened to us. The Praia Elders were taking us to a taco stand on the beach that night to introduce us to a lady named Noemiah that lives in our area. We didn't go there to eat, just to talk to her and we got her address and info and she said we could pass by on Thursday. So that was great. Well, as we started to go back to the house, this stray dog walked past me and I just looked at it while I was walking. Well, some lady noticed my attention to it and immediately started talking to me and the other Elders. Let me tell you, this lady and her husband, were hammered drunk. Like worse than I've ever seen anyone before. Anyway, she started talking to us and we told her who we were and what we do. Well, we found out that she was American. She was speaking to us in English as well. Well, it was almost impossible to teach her anything. Soon after we introduced ourselves, she tells us to look at the dog. We were like ok. Elder Kessler said "yeah cool" and looked back up and she freaked out. She was like "NO LOOK AT IT, LOOK AT IT. There's something you idiots don't understand" At this point Elder Wilder is trying super hard not to laugh. Then she starts talking about how that dog is her child. She said "This dog is God, it loves everyone." That is when Elder Wilder lost it and busted up laughing. He ended up walking off and Kessler followed. So it was just me and Wiseman for about a minute more. Well we left our card with them and left. So that's the funny/random event of the week.
Other than that, I think I told you all just about everything. I miss you all so much. Sorry to end this email on the less spiritual side, ha. I should have told that story first. But I love you all and miss you so much. I can't wait to talk to ya next week. Tchau|!!!!!
Elder Willes

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hey guys. It was a pretty good week. I'm still getting used to transfer changes, but its all good. I'm enjoying the transfer changes. The new Elders that came in are super cool and we all get along great. Elder Wilder (Kessler's comp) is a way cool kid, and my comp, (Elder Wiseman) is a really good kid as well.
This last week has been kind of interesting. We have been knocking a lot of doors and trying to find new investigators. Very interesting week. We have met some very interesting people. We met the man on the island who films all the parties and bull fights and what not and he said he had talked with the elders before and he would like to talk to us again. He said he used to have a Book of Mormon but he moved and didn't have one. We felt prompted to give him one, so we did and encouraged him to read it. He was so grateful, that he gave us a DVD of the bullfights hahahahah. What a good guy. We however can't watch it because we don't watch TV on our mission, so I'm thinking in my next package to send home, I am going to send that DVD home to you guys and you can watch it and tell me how it is... hahahha.
Speaking of package, I got you special birthday goers a little something last Monday and sent it home on Tuesday. So you guys be looking for that. I sent it home in Brigham City, but it has things for everyone who has a birthday, so you guys are just going to have to travel to get your gift. ha. sorry. Oh and I also received the package of Skittles and the memory cards. Thank you soooooo much. I really like that Mens Motab. We have been listening to it around the house. I didn't know they sang a Billy Joel song. cool. So yeah I'm going to send my memory card home today hopefully, if not today, then for sure tomorrow. You guys need to prepare yourselves though. This beast has nearly 600 pictures on it so i hope you have a lot of time!!!!
The work is going good. We are finding a number of new investigators so that is good. Starting tomorrow, me and Elder Wiseman are going to speak nothing but Portuguese to each other. That way it will help him to learn the language. It will also help me learn more as well.
This last week, I finished reading all sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Wow. I really loved it. My faith and my testimony have been strengthened so much during my studies in it. I have learned so much. This past week I have been thinking about how much I've learned in preparation for my mission and during my mission, and I can honestly say that I have learned more and my testimony grew more in this last year, than in my entire life. I love it. Right now, as a mission, we are reading through the New Testament in the Bible. I love reading about the Savior's life. Right now, I am only in Matthew but I am amazed at the Savior's teachings.
Well, things are going good here. I'm learning so much here in the mission. I miss you guys all so much though. I love you all. I feel so lucky to have been born in such a strong and blessed family. I pray for all of you every day. Keep it real!!!! Tchau Tchau!!!!
Elder Willes

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I just thought I'd let you all know, we just got called from President Torgan and Elder Dalton and Levitre will be leaving us to go back to the continent, but me and Elder Kessler will be staying. Elder Kessler is getting a comp named Elder Wilder and this will be the first time that I have a comp that is younger than me. This will only be his third transfer. His name is Elder Wiesman. When president told me he would be coming he said "Espero que vais ajudar-lo com a lingua" (I hope you will help him with the language) hahahaha. So I'm really excited. I have also been moved to district leader. So I skipped senior comp and went right to district leader. I'm really excited. I think I'm going to grow a ton these next couple of transfers.
Elder Willes

Hey guys!!!!
Crazy birthday week this week huh? How did everyone's birthday turn out? I know Noelle's and Mom's isn't until tomorrow, but I'm assuming it was celebrated with everyone else!!! Wow the new Ipad 2 huh? Thats crazy. President Eves here on the island has an Ipad and he was showing us all the crazy stuff they can do. They look really cool. I have only seen two though and they were both Americans that had them.
Well, the mission is going great!!!!!!!!!! I'm proud to say that the baptism went great on Friday!!!! Pedro was super nervous but he was so happy after the baptism, he gave the person that baptized him a big hug and the spirit was there so strong. We are all so proud of him as a branch and all the elders. We told him we were going to get him a shirt that says "vote for pedro" and go around telling people that "pedro offers them his protection." The funny thing is, he actually understood that joke. How he knew about that show in the middle of the ocean on this island, I don't know, but we are great friends with him and he will be such a great example to this branch.
Some sad news. Elder Dalton and Levitre will be leaving us tomorrow. We still don't know where they are going yet because president only told them that they would be leaving at zone conference on Friday, but they will for sure be leaving. So both me and Elder Kessler will be getting new companions and staying here on the island. I'm crossing my fingers and praying. Transfers always make me a little bit nervous. I'll be missing Elder Dalton though. He was such a great companion.
On Friday, we had a district meeting, which is kind of like a stake conference, only for the 2 branches here on the island. The Americans and Portuguese went to the same one, so there had to be a translator, but it was a really great experience. President Torgan spoke there and we had one of the Area 70 from Italy come and speak to us. He is a really great man, full of love, and we could all feel the spirit from him when he spoke!!!
Not much other news though. Right now, we are trying to find new investigators and I'm praying like crazy for guidance from the spirit when I start leading this area. I'm so thankful to be here on this island doing the Lord's work. I'm so thankful for all of you guys. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my wonderful family and how blessed I am to be a part of them. I love you all. I pray for you all everyday. I will be looking forward to next weeks email. Ate Proximo!!!!!!
Elder Willes

Monday, March 7, 2011

I have some great news for you guys!!! This Friday, count on a baptism. That's right. All of our hard work finally payed off!!! We have Pedro marked for baptism this Friday! I'm super excited. He is going to be a great example and priesthood leader in our branch!!! That's pretty much by far the biggest part of my news this week. Other than that, transfers are in a week. Can you believe it??? It feels like I arrived on this island yesterday and its already been almost 6 weeks. Chances are, I'll stay. Usually people stay on the Azores for 3 or 4 transfers, so I think I'm staying, but you never know ha. So Elder Dalton has started going around and bidding farewell to people that we don't visit that much because he pretty much knows for a certainty that he will be leaving. He already has a good 6 months on this island.
As for the branch, yes the bishopric has addressed the smoking issue. That's the sad part. Yesterday, President Eves asked a 15 year old kid in our branch if he knew that the savior wanted him to stop smoking, would he? and the kid answered no. So it is a sad situation, but no one can judge but God. I like what Kenny said about it... that this church itself is a perfect church, Christ's only church on the earth. But the people in the church are far from perfect. As missionaries here, we have tried to reactivate a lot of members that have fallen away because of transgression and they don't feel comfortable going to church so they just straight up quit going, but one of the things we tell them is that church is like a hospital for us. Its not a place where perfect people go, but a place where people who have imperfections go to use the atonement and be spiritually healed. Unfortunately though, we still have a lot who refuse to go back, and a lot have fallen away purely off the example of others they have seen who have fallen away.
But yeah, just to clarify, the military itself won't be transferred off the island, just a lot of the American families are being transferred to other airbases. A surprising amount of the families here have at one time or another been living at Hill Airforce base!!! Cool huh? but anyways, we just hope a lot of members move in to take their place when they leave so we can have a good strong priesthood group in our branch.
Other than this, I don't have much news for you guys. The work continues to go on and my testimony and love for the savior is always increasing!!!! I love you all and miss you so much. I pray for you all everyday. Ill talk to you guys next week. Tchau!!!!!

Elder Willes

Friday, March 4, 2011

Still searching...

Hey guys!!! Great to hear from you again. P-days are fun, but my highlight of pday is by far the emailing.
Well, the island has been going great!!! The work is getting a little bit better here. Yesterday, we had a lesson with Pedro, the kid that we want to baptize, and he is so super close to get baptized. He is obeying all the commandments and he goes to church. The only thing holding him back right now is the example of some of the members in the branch. I'm not going to lie, this Portuguese branch is suffering, and once the Airforce members leave that comprise of most of the priesthood, it will fall. So we are searching for priesthood holders like crazy. But yeah, there are some bad examples in our branch unfortunately. Some of the members will go outside during sacrament meeting and just light up their cigarettes right outside of the church. That really fires me up. Its gotten bad enough that President Eves has gone around and just started randomly interviewing people. It just goes to show you how important it is to be a good example as a member. "a light to the world". But I am thankful for the few strong members in this branch, and all the others, we just have to help them out. But we are working.
We have been working a lot in Biscoitos. Its the other side of the island. Right now, that is our best bet. We have been getting a lot of references over there and having a lot of lessons and I think there are some really elect people over there. I'm really excited. So the work is going great. We are SO CLOSE to a baptism.
As for random news this week. I'm a little bit tired this morning because I was awakened by Elder Levitre last night at about 3 in the morning. The kid flippin' sleep walks. He got up, left his room, came over to ours and started rubbing our closed door. Well it woke me up and me and Elder Dalton were both just staring at the door. I'm not going to lie, it freaked me out. Then the door opens up a crack and closes again and we can hear him going off to other places in the hall. We told him about it this morning and he couldn't stop laughing. hahah. Pretty funny!!
Well, nothing else happened this last week really. It was a good normal week. I'm really loving my mission though. I love this work so much. Nothings better than doing the Lord's work.
And I hate to rub this in you guys's face, but it is starting to get super warm and sunny on this island. I miss my snow, but this weather is amazing. Super warm, green, and sunny. Just think about that while you all are freezing hahaha.
Well, I'm going to end now. I have to download a lot of pictures from my camera to my pen drive today. But I love you all so much. I'm so thankful for the Gospel. I know without a doubt it is true. I'd like to say I was baptized with 8 years of age, but I've been truly converted here in the mission. I love you all. Stay cool. Ate proximo semana!!!!!!! Tchau!!!
Elder Willes

Monday, February 21, 2011

Work on the Azores....pretty tough

Hey guys. Our time is limited today because we only get 35 minutes before this internet cafe closes for lunch uggggg Stupid Séstas!!! But things are going pretty good here on the island. We have been finding new people to teach slowly, but surely. The island is a little bit different than my last area. I have a lot more responsibility in the ward. But as far as the actual missionary work goes, its quite a bit harder here just because its so Catholic and the population is very tiny. Anyway, yesterday was a pretty good Sunday. I stayed busy with a talk in Sacrament meeting on top of teaching primary. We taught them about when the vendors were selling in the temple and Jesus drove them out. It was a good lesson to teach these kids in particular because we hit the principle of respect very hard. They behaved a lot better until I made a huge mistake at the end. I had brought a candy bar to a girl in our class because she had a birthday and the whole class flipped out and started fighting and screaming for it, completely forgetting the lesson I gave about respect hahaha. Anyway, we are kind of worried about the Portuguese branch here. Once all the American families leave, if we can't find any good worthy priesthood holders, the brach is most likely going to close down. So we are really focusing on bringing families into the church right now, especially families with a father that can be a priesthood holder.
The week went pretty well. We knock a lot of doors here and the doors are spread out pretty far apart, so we walk our faces off here, but its good. Some random news is now we have started finding big fat nasty cockroaches in our house. Yipee. You guys all know how much I love cockroaches. Elder Levitre was too scared to stomp on one the other night so he put it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the microwave. EWwwwwww gross. Other news, this is kind of disturbing and really sad, but there is a village in our area called Santa Rita and this is pretty much the Ghetto of the island. Really poor, and a lot of not so good things go on there. Well, we were going to pass an investigator that lived there that I still haven't met. He is about a 40 year old African guy that supposedly is really nice and cool. It would have been my first time meeting him. Well, we knocked on the door and no one answered. We didn't think too much of it so we just left. A little bit later that day we were told by other investigators that he made a big story on the news. Poor guy was murdered inside his house and dragged down the street and tossed over into the ocean. I feel really sorry for him. Thats just not right. He had told a member that he had planned on going to church on Sunday too. They still haven't found his body apparently. Needless to say, I think me and Elder Dalton are going to kind of avoid that area during the night hours.
Baptism wise, we are still working with Pedro. Pedro is super cool, and he is doing everything he needs too, he is just being lazy. We are also working with a man named Carlos. He is having a rough time here on the island. He calls it the "Island of lies" haha. I don't know why, but he seems pretty elect. We just have to get him to stop smoking. He has been online dating some Brazilean member for over 5 years now, so that has been rough on him still not meeting her.
Well, the work goes on, and I'm really loving it here. I really miss you guys. I love you all so much. Im so thankful for this Gospel and for the amazing family I have. Keep it real guys. I love you all.
Elder Willes