Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Final email!

Monday, May 11, 2015
Well, this is my last oficial email as a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ. I wanted to just review some things that Ive learned as a missionary, and take the opportunity to bear my testimony. 

Let´s start at the beginning shall we?

-I started in the MTC in June of 2013. I learned that God responds to our prayers, to put it simply.

-Buffalo, New York, where I was born. I learned how to study the scriptures, how to work, and how to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

-Rochester, New York. Where I learned to really love people. Where I learned to teach people, struggle with people, and rejoice with people. 

-Greece, New York, where I learned to really rely on the Lord and communicate. I also learned to love the Temple of God.

-Canandaigua, New York, where I learned that the gospel is not easy. Also that service is an attribute of Jesus Christ. 

-Pittsford, New York, where I learned that missionary work is not easy. It was here that I learned to love to bear my testimony, and to love leading others. 

-Birigui, São Paulo, Brasil- Where I learned to speak Portuguese. I also learned that strangers in strange lands can become your best friends. I learned the amazing faith that Brazilians have while I was in Birigui.

-Ribeirão Preto, São Brasil- I learned the importance of my mission. I came to know how important it is for us to be worthy and faithful soldiers in the Lord´s army, so He can use us as His hands to bless His needing children. 

These are just a very few of the things that I´ve learned in 2 years as a missionary. But in truth the very most important things Ive learned have taken place between me and our Heafvenly Father. Ive come to know most importantly that He exists, and that He listens to us. This is perhaps the most imporant lesson that Ive learned. Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 talks about the worth of every soul is so great in God´s eyes. It says that if we work for 2 years and help bring just one soul to Christ, our joy will be unimaginable. But if we ourselves are the only soul we save, it´s sufficient, as long as we´re working hard. I was definitely my first convert, and for this I will remember my mission for the rest of my life primarily  with the sacred thoughts of my own conversion. 
   I want to bear my testimony that I know God lives. And because I know He lives, I know He listens to our prayers. I was able to sit down in a very sacred place that we call the Sacred Grove, and sincerely ask God if everything the Mormons profess to be true is true, primarily the Book of Mormon. If Joseph Smith really saw God and was called to be a prophet to usher in the marvelous work and a wonder, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our day. I know that I received an answer that day, through opening the Book of Mormon and reading something that God used to speak to me. I walked out of thegrove that day with a real testimony of the work I have been doing for 2 years. If you havent asked God if it´s true, how will you know? You have to pick up the Book of Mormon and ask God if it´s true and if it has importance in your life. Dont be afraid because others say it´s not true. God is the only one who can prove it to you that it´s true or not. I have been so happy giving others the opportunity to have a real relationship with God through simple prayers. One of my favorite things on the mission is teaching children how to pray, and then watching them develop a habit and pray on their own. God wants us to pray to Him, yet so many of us forget to do it, or even forget how to do it. But we obtain responses to our questions from God. We have to pray to Him. 
   I could go on and on, but we´ll save that for next week when I come home haha 

I thank all of you so much for the support these last two years, especially my parents. Theyve sacrificed so much. I thank them and I thank God for this very special time Ive been given. 

I love you all!

Elder Jake Hirschi  

Happy May Day!

May 4th, 2015
Wow, it´s May already haha where did that come from?

This week was pretty dang emotional haha not just because Im going home in 2 weeks. There were a lot of miraculous things that went on this week.

Ive been praying and fasting that we´ll be able to get a baptism before I get home. I was also praying that if I did everything I could until I go home, and I dont get a baptism, that I wouldn´t feel like I didn´t do my best. It´s kind of a tough feeling to fight, because you want something so bad, you want to help people so bad, and if they dont act, they dont get helped haha the ball is in their court! This week we had a couple experiences like that- we invite people to be baptized, we take the bus an hour to their house whenever they can meet, and walk to hurry and visit as many people as possible, and they end up not acting. It´s tough, but I received a pretty strong answer this week that we´re doing the Lord´s work, and we´re doing as much as we can. Even though we´re maybe not going to baptize a ton of people before I go home, people are progressing. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God puts us in the right place at the right time. He knows who needs help, and how to help them. It´s our responsibility as missionaries to listen to the spirit and GO. 
  This week we had a great miracle with J this week. She talked with her boyrfriend, and theyve decided to get married! She said she wants to get married quick because she wants to get baptized. I think she´ll end up getting baptized only a couple of weeks after I get home haha maybe Ill come back to Brazil a week after coming home :)  she had some amazing experiences in gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. She said she prayed to God first, to give her more understanding, and then she read in the Book of Mormon a verse that really spoke to her, that talked exactly about how God gives understanding and light to HIs children. She knew that that was an answer to her, from God. 
    That´s the point of everything- to come closer to God and to know that He lives. If we can do that here on Earth, we can get a taste of what eternal life is like, really Living with God and Christ forever, because John 17:3 says that life eternal is knowing God and Christ. I really gained a testimony of God and Jesus Christ because of my mission. Theyve become real to me because of the experiences Ive had on my mission. I know they live. And I got to bear my testimony in church yesterday in my last testimony meeting as a missionary, and I bore my testiomny about things that I really know. I wouldnt trade these two years for anything.

    We´re also teaching Pedro and Selma, who used to have hard hearts but who are now coming to church every Sunday. We´re seeing a lot of progress with them, and I know they´ll realize in a little more time how many blessings their family will receive because of this gospel. 

 Same story for Thiele, Neander, and Adalton. They just need to act haha

Thank you for all the emails and support. Have a great week!

Elder Hirschi

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April 27th, 2015
Finally got the pics sent! But dont worry, there´s almost 1000 more, so we´´ll have a great slideshow sesh when I get home!

This week was really great. We met some people- T, C, N (de novo) and a family who are so ready to accept the gospel and let it change them. We saw a bunch of miracles this week- including P´s baptism. Me and Elder Kimura met him and his family first, and then I got Elder Crawford and we continued teaching him, and then about two weeks ago we moved our areas around again and we had to give him over to the other Elders in the ward. So it was tough to not teach him more, but the important thing is that he got baptized! It was such a great baptismal service because all the youth came to support him, and a bunch of people were there at the chapel getting ready for a dance afterwards (no we didnt attend haha) so it was a great night. We went through a lot with him, and to see him sacrifice and eventually be ready to enter the waters of baptism and start a new life that will profoundly help his family in the future, was great. He was so excited the night of his baptism, and it was evidence to me that the Holy Ghost is real, and that the gospel truly changes people. We´ll be waiting for the rest of his family to get baptized soon! 
  One other miracle that happened was at church on Sunday. Last week was kind of a bummer because we didnt have too many people who we´re working with show up at church, but this week was different. Usually we have a frequency of about 70-80 at the max at church. This week we reached 105! We need to stay at about 110 for a good amount of time to qualify to reform our chapel, and we´re close. The ward is working too- it wasnt just our efforts that got people to church, but our leadership in this ward is incredible. Our bishop cardoso is pretty much ready to be celestialized haha he´s got his whole heart in the work of the Lord in our area, and he´s a great example to me of how I can really apply my HEART in the work, not just my feet to walk to people´s houses, or my mouth to say words. He really talks with his heart, and it´s a great lesson to me. Ill definitely remember him long after I come home. 

Sorry this email is short but hey at least I sent pictures!

Love you all!
Elder Hirschi

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Monday, April 20th, 2015
This week, again was crazy haha 
At least my companion Elder Crawford got better, and we were able to work a ton this week. I feel like Im more motivated than any other time on my mission to work as hard as possible. The fact that I have one month left isn´t working against me or making my trunky, but it´s really helping me focus on all I have to do before I go home, and my biggest fear isnt trunkyness. It´s not getting done everything I want to! There´s so much to do in so little time!
  This week I learned a lot about gratitude and what I have in my life. I was reminded this week of my area in Rochester- bascially the ghetto of Rochester haha where I felt for the first time that I was surrounded by people who have never known the happiness that I have- and it was kind of hard to always be trying to help people who have experiences and difficulties that I dont know about. This week was pretty much the same thing- a mix of families going through a lot of hard things. We´re teaching one girl who has a desire to get baptized but she doesnt know if marriage or separation is theright thing. We´re also working with an alcoholic who has a desire to stop drinking and get on the right path, but he feels helpless and out of the control of his addiction.  Also we´re working with someone who has a testimony stronger than any member I know, but who woke up in the morning and saw her 15 year old son on the news for stealing a car and crashing it with his buddies. She just wants him at home, but she feels like she´s doing everything she can to lead him back home, but he wont come. 
  So there are a string of difficulties people experience here, and for most of them, Im pretty useless as far as personal experiences go. But Ive come to learn that the gospel is universal, and can be applied to any situation, any hardship, and you can be comforted in any difficulty, regardless if the people around you understand perfectly your situation or not. And it´s all because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that the gospel applies to us perfectly. He suffered everything that we have suffered, are suffering, or will suffer in the future. We NEED to rely on His sacrifice, because without it, there really isnt hope for much of any comfort in this life. 
  Im grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ, and for his WILLINGNESS. Im more willing to work for the Lord every day as His missionary because He was willing to die for my sins and suffer through my trials. 
  I hope everyone has a great week, and thank you for all the thoughts and emails! 

PS this lanhouse doesnt have a slot again to put my camera and pass pics. But I promise Im taking some great pics haha use your faith and patience that one day I will send some sweet pics. 

Elder Hirschi  

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Falta 5 semenas! Huh?

Monday April 13th, 2015

This week was pretty interesting- filled with lots of ups and downs, as usual! Let´s start with the downs- 
   My companion Elder Crawford got sick, and we had to stay inside all day Saturday. Haha I almost died staying inside all day talking to no one...I think Ill be dropping out of college soon after continuing...anyways but another small detail is that we were living with about 8 missionaries in that small apartment in the centro, meant for 2 missionaries, 3 at the maximum. We had so many because it was the end of a transfer, and all the ´´heroes´´ going home stayed in other apartments the last nights of their mission. It was a little scary because A) we put the health of so many missionaries at risk at the end of their missions haha and B) I saw my very near future pass before my eyes- in 5 weeks Ill be doing the same thing- ending my mission so quickly...but the missionaries going home all seemed pretty healthy, so I think Ill be alright. 
  Ive been having some serious moments of ´´im going to miss this when I go home´´ this week. Especially today, because we packed up our suitcases and finally moved back to our original house in Independência. Just the action of packing up a suitcause gets you a little sentimental...missions are strange haha but yes Ill be taking advantage of all the people that speak portuguese, all the cheap but amazing food, all the palm trees, cultural differences, and awkward situations. Ill miss it all, but I have 5 great weeks to finish it out!
  An up this week was our battle to find elites who are ready to accept our message. I was thinking and praying about finding people who really are prepared to hear the gospel. We´re willing to work and t4each- we just needed to be guided to find people, so we asked Heavenly Father. Every night I asked to find and be guided to elites, and the whole week I was worried that we werent finding people that were rreally prepared. We can sit down and teach people all day no problem, but Brazil has a bit of a problem with people who will listen and listen but wont act- wont go to church, wont read, wont pray, etc. But Sunday was our day of miracles because we found Neander, who lives really really far away from everything. He was taught one time in the past but the missionaries never returned. When we knocked on his door he received us really well and is super prepared. He´s willing to act and really figure out if our message is true. It was an answer to our prayers, and it was really refreshing to know that there are people out there waiting for the message of the Restoration. We´re also working with Paulo, who is 16 and has a true desire to get baptized and change his life. He´ll probably get baptized this week or the next. His family fell out of Heaven into teh bairro Salgado Filho. They just need to act and come to church haha but it´s an amazing experience to meet and teach people who are really prepared to change. 
  The weeks are passing really fast, and Im not letting a moment pass me by. Thanks for all the emails! 
Elder Jake Hirschi

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Feliz Pascoa!

Monday, April 6th, 2015
Feliz Páscoa!
This week was a great week again, and this Pday came with a surprise, because I wasn´t expecting the week to end so fast! It literally felt like it should be saturday or sunday when monday rolled around, but I know the time will just keep going faster and faster and eventually, well...
  This week was again filled with craziness- including a zone conference and general conference. We had half the mission come to a chapel near our house for a zone conference, where Presidente gave a couple trainings that help animate us as a mission. It was cool because about 70 80 missionaries were there, and after lunch everyone left to do some contacts in the same area. As we left the chapel for a bit to share a message about Easter with people in the community, the sight was one Ill never forget- Tons of missionaries flocking the same area talking with everyone in sight. It helped me really visualize what God wants for the future- a true Army of Helaman, a people really united in the same cause of establishing Zion. To see other missionaries work automatically motivates you to work for the same cause, which was awesome. We had a great experience with our contacts. We found a woman who was pretty rude at first, saying that she was catholic and didnt need our message. But then we asked her a question about the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in her life, and she suddenly broke down and told us that her husband of 50 years of marriage passed away just 2 years ago, and how sometimes she has doubts that she will see him again. We were able to testify of the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it means for her. It was a special experience to see someone have a change in countenance because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We saw her heart soften, and she let us in to say a prayer with her to bless her and her family. I love Brazil because the people her have a natural instinct to soften their hearts, and be humble. Not everybody is like this haha but there are a lot of great people here. I think maybe it´s because they dont have winter haha
Next week we´ll have our first zone meeting as a zone, and we´ll have a lot of miracles to tell. We´re working to build up a great teaching pool with a lot of people to teach, and it´s going well. We´ve been praying to find families to teach, and we were blessed with families in 2 days, which was a clear answer from God. It´s going to be a great week!
Elder Hirschi

ps pics next week I promise! 

And when President doesn't have any more surprises...

March 30, 2015
 think the title of this email was the title of one of Kylie´s emails when she had about the same amount of time left on her mission as I have now.....
   This week was crazy haha Im still trying to figure out where I am. Basically Elder Kimura and I were doing some weekly planning, when the phone rang. We were told to call Pres immediately. We called him and he said that our area and our zone was being divided, and I was called to be the leader of one part of our zone. This means that I would receive another companion also. I was put with Elder Crawford, another American, and we´re working in half of the area that I worked in with Elder Kimura. The only problem is that to add another set of missionaries means we need a place to stay. In our current house, Presidente doesnt think theres enough room to have us stay there too. So for now we´re staying with the ´´assistents´´ to the president in the center of RP, about 20-30 minutes away from our actual area. So there are 5 missionaries living in the centro in an apartment that usually fits 2. But we´ve been trying to travel and learn all the bus schedules and everything, so it´s been fun. Presidente came to our ward on Sunday too, and gave a talk on how the Lord gave our ward two more missionaries, when most of the mission is losing missionaries and closing areas. We´re pretty excited about it, because our ward needed at least 4 missionaries. Right now we´re stoked to work nonstop for the next 7 weeks haha (and afterwards also Im sure...) 
  One fun thing we did was take care of my companion on Saturday. He´s got a wicked rash on his legs, that were spreading pretty bad, so we decided to try and get an appt with a doctor in a private hospital, but they were closed until monday. So we decided that we would just go to the closest public hospital and try to get the rashes looked at. BIG mistake. We passed the first closest public hospital, and of all things, they were on strike. Brazil and strikes, dont get me started Dilma haha so we then treked to the next nearest hospital, and it was pretty crowded at 230 when we got there, but with expectation of being crowded. What we didnt expect was the 6 hour wait just to get attended to. At 830 we finally sat down with a college age doctor, wearing jeans and velcro bowling shoes (irrelevant haha). He was way surprised to hear that we had been waiting 6 hours. Apparently there was a mess up in the system and we waited 2 hours longer than we should have, but thats ok haha we survived. We got some meds and prescription for a antibiotic cream. We left and got home at about 930 or so, feeling more tired than a normal day in the incessant rain. 
   One great thing about this whole emergency transfer is how many missionaries we get to see. The escritorio of the mission is right around the corner of where we live, and we get to see the little army of missionaries running around doing the chores of the mission, and all the behind the scenes work. This mission really is run by the missionaries. President does a lot for sure, and Sister Brum is our mom of the mission, but really this mission wouldnt survive without the missionaries themselves doing all the behind the scene work. Plus we get to do divisions with one of the assistants who is going home in 2 weeks. I learn something new from him every time we´re with him. It´s not even something amazing that he says or the words he uses to teach, but the way he treats people and makes a difference in every appointment we go to. It makes me always want to the best missionary I can be. Right up to the end. 
   Dad when you said that you baptized that family because you went out to work on Pday night, it made me want to keep being as diligent as I can be. Im feeling the urgency of diligence right now with my end date sneaking up. just 6 more Sundays. Im wanting to teach and testify every elite person that´s here in Independência, and Im getting really motivated. We just need to organize a bit and get into a better swing, but things are going well!
 Sorry this email is so long!
Elder Hirschi
ps mom I got your package and I loved it!!! Peanut Butter and Granola bars are like gold and silver to me right now haha
Kylie I love the ties haha portugal style thank you so much! Plus those talks are changing my view of things on the mission also! thanks for thinking of me!