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!  

Hello from Ribeirao Preto

March 9, 2015

This week, again, was the fastest week of my mission. A lot has happened in a week, and a lot will happen the next week also. Ill just stay on the computer until next week, because it passes so fast that it seems like only a couple days have passed, instead of a whole week. I think of the 12 days in the MTC in São Paulo, and how they felt like 12 years, and here in the field, 12 days is nothing. But 9 weeks is a lot haha
   This week we had some interesting experiences. Ive learned that we hae to teach people in a different way than the people in the US. They have very different cultures as far as doubts about the church and our method. We lost a couple of investigators this week, and gained a few more. We are really dealing with some really special people, like some of you have already noticed. This Saturday will be the baptism of Cristiana, who is our example of Christ in many ways- one being the willingness to walk an hour to church. We also had another family come to church, and make a lot of friends. Paulo and Gracielma are very special. I forgot if I talked about them last week, but Ive learned a lot from them already. Basically Gracielma is 22 and is the rock of her family with 4 other brothers and one single mom. She is so humble and willing to learn about our message then take it to God and ask if it´s right. I think her family will get baptized pretty soon. Another miracle we saw was with Natali, who is 20. She is deciding whether or not she´ll go on a mission, even though she only has about 2 years in the church. She went through some real dificulties with friends ripping on the church, trying to dissuade her from serving a mission. You always see a lot of temptations right before you leave for or decide you will go on a mission, because in truth Satan knows the potencial that young people have to preach the gospel to others. He´ll do anything he can to destroy God´s plans, and what better way to do that than to attack the young representatives of Jesus Christ who are willing to serve him as a full time missionary? 
  But always Im learning here the importance of being a missionary without a nametag. A lot of members have helped us a ton to teach our investigators. I loe teaching with a member because you can always see that the member benefits from the lesson that he is teaching, not just the investigator. This is a very loving ward, and Im so glad I get to finish my mission here in Independência!
That´s all I have time to share this week, but there will be more miracles next week for sure!
Love you all!
Elder Hirschi
PS family Im laughing to myself thinking of all the funny moments you´re having there in O Beach!!! You stoppin at Six Flags too??

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Wow. What a week. What a day ALREADY haha we left for Ribeirão Preto at midnight last night, and arrived at 5 am, then waited at the bus station for 4 hours before arriving in my new area! Im serving in an area called Independencia, with Elder Kimura. He´s only got 6 weeks on the mission, so I will be able to successfully escape any trunky thoughts for at least the next 6 weeks haha yes!

But in truth yesterday was the best and the worst day. Leaving Birigui was the hardest thing Ive had to do since leaving NY. There were laughs, there were tears, there were teddy bears given, and there were suitcases packed. We visited quite a few people yesterday to say goodbye. It was amazing to really realize how many people have had an effect on my life in my time here in Birigui. I will always remember Birigui because it was where I started my mission in Brazil, without much ability to communicate, without people I know very well, and without culutural similarities that Ive been used to my whole life. But I left Birigui with an ability to talk to people in Portuguese, lots of friends, and so many important experiences that Ill cherish for the rest of my life.
  Yesterday was the best day because we finally saw almost all of the fruits of our labors in church. We had about 20 people who we have been working with and visiting, come to church. We usually have a frequency of 60-70 people at church each week, and yesterday we had 90. It was so great to see the Lord blessing us by helping others get up in the morning and get to church. Our principles of the gospel class was jam packed, and when me and Elder Oelkers came here 4 months ago, the class didnt exist. But it´s not just due to our efforts of visiting people and inviting them to church. I know the Lord is blessing the area of Troncoso with a lot of success because the members are willing to STEP up and help take care of each other.
  Saturday we had the baptism of Kleber, and another 18 year old from a neighboring ward. Usually we have the service in the primary room, but there were so many people there that we had to move upstairs into the chapel to do the service. It was a really great experience- one that Ill never forget. THANK you for the prayers that definitely helped Kleber and his family CONTINUE to progress in the gospel.
   Another great thing yesterday was our fast and testimnony meeting. Cicera, who is so ready to get baptized, but just needs to quit the smoking, bore her testimony. Also, Kleber´s mom, who was inactive for 15 years, also bore her testimony in front of everyone. Theres not anything much better than people youre working to help com closer to Christ expressing their own testimonies in front of a congregation. When you bear you testimony, YOUR testimony will automatically become stronger.
  Needless to say, my last week in Troncoso was a week never to be forgotten. Im a little nervous to only have 11 weeks in my last area, but Im praying that we´ll be able to see just as many miracles in this area as we did in Troncoso.

Thank you all for everything! Love you and have a great week!
Elder Hirschi
February 16, 2015

Sorry this email will be way short because I wasted all my internet time applying for a SCHOLARSHIP for school!

But anyways, this week has been one of the best weeks Ive had here in Birigui. For so many weeks we´´ve been working with so many people trying to help them in any way we can come a little bit closer to Jesus Christ. Primarily we´ve bee focusing a lot of church attendance- inviting everybody to church, teaching them the importance of taking the sacrament, etc etc. This week our fruits were harvested in at least 10 people that we´re working with who came to church!!!!! It was like a nice deep breathe, because 10 more people took the sacrament this week, 10 more people felt the pecae of coming to the house of the Lord and 10 more people felt the spirit of church on Sunday! It was great.
We had a pretty amazing family/ ward night at the house of Bispo this week also. As always, we as the missionaries were the MC´s for the spiritual message and game, and it went more than well. Our ward came together when they all were asked to give compliments to the person sitting next to them. Also, the game was helping to unite everybody also. Our ward is definitely getting better and more excited about working together- our leader of missionary work in our ward is returning back to doing his JOB, and we´re doing well working with him also. I love BIRIGUIIIII transfers next week- Ill be transferred to my LAST area, and it might be outside of Birigui. It may be a hard transition, but wherever the Lord sends me, Ill serve- Im kind of used to the whole unexpected transfer/ new city/new mission kind of thing by now;)
This Saturday Kleber will be baptized, and it will be one of the best experiences of my mission. I cant wait!

Have a great week!
Elder Hirschi

February 9, 2015
Wow, I was waiting for the photos of Kylie coming home all week, and they finally came! What a strange thing haha you never expect these things to actually happen...I noticed the darkness in the KC Airport haha oh terrible winters....I wake up every morning and peer out the WINDOW because it´s the perfect climate around 630 7 o clock here- I love it.
  This week was a little crazy- a whirlwind to tell you the truth but it was awesome. I was sick most of the week but it was more good than bad because of 3 things (that Ill include here)
 1) Our ward has a reputation of being pretty divided and difficult to work with. We dont like this stereotype, and decided to plan a family home evening with our entire ward. We planned with another Irma in our ward. We made invites, passed them out at church, and had a party with a third of our ward who came to this Irma´s house on Saturday. It was a perfect scene- a really humble house jam packed with members of our ward sitting on the floor, standing in the back, listening to spiritual messages that we and bispo gave, then everyone united in a really FUN GAME that we planned. We put everyone into 2 teams, and made little competitions for the teams to play. For example, we had a competition of who could write all the names of the states in Brazil in 2 minutes. NEither team could write all of them haha it was pretty funny. We also did a spelling bee, which was the cause of quite the disputation because my companion pronounced one of the words incorrectly haha but I dont think Ive ever seen people more competitive in my life haha it was great and the teams chose the names of ´´House of Abraham´´ and ´´group of Iron´´ haha gotta love the creativity of Brazilians. But the ACTIVITY was a lot more than just fun- everyone in the ward will get a lot closer to each other because of these simple things. Everyone loved it, and we´ll being doing another family night soon! Ive come to love everybody in this ward like a family, seriously.
 2) WE´re having some difficulty with Cicera, who is trying to stop smoking to get baptized. She smoked about 20 cigarrettes every day, and she decided to try to stop all at once. She got really sick, and called her doctor, who said it´s really bad for her to stop all at once, especially because she´s taking other medicine also. But she wants to stop so bad that she didnt want to listen to the doctor, who said she should smoke 7 cigarrettes a day for a while to help her body adjust. Cicera decided to smoke just 2 a day because she wants to stop so bad. Its not a good thing to ignore your doctor, but at least it was a lesson for me of sacrifice. It would be a lot easier to just accept the fact that smoking has her hooked and she cant stop because her doctor even advised against it. But she´s so strong and determined and filled with faith to stop smoking, and to rely in God and the stgrength He is giving her. Cicera has smoked for more than 30 years, and this struggle for her is real. But I love the sacrifice she is making to ENTER the waters of baptism to a new life- a new beginning. Her baptism later this month with be pretty special.
3) We are working with an ex bishop who is returning to activity in the church right now. He and his wife brought their son Cleber to church. Cleber is 23 years old, and quite the miracle. He was more than involved and interested in everything that went on at church, and ended up asking us about baptism and the temple and everything else. He left church with a stack of books that he got there, and is really excited to get baptized. It will be so great to see this family be united again in the church of Jesus Christ. It was a tender mercy for us because we´re working with a lot of other families who aren´t putting forth much effort to come to church or make time for visits during the week. I know that we´re always guided in the work of the Lord day after day after day. Even if it seems like things arent going our way, we will be guided to the goldens with faith if we do the simple things we´re supposed to do.
  This week was pretty awesome, and Im sure next week will be just as good ;)

Elder Hirschi
ps good luck with the transition Kylie, Im praying for YOUR transition every night haha

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Transfers Continue

JWell, I finished my 13th transfer in the mission field this week. This means Ive been serving a mission for 13 sets of 6 week transfers. Wow it seems pretty crazy haha so many odd experiences, so many times Ive asked myself- ´´how did I find myself in this situation...´´ and so many miracles. So many entries in my journal of amazing things that are happening. But let´s start with something not so cool.
  The medical system here in Brazil. It´s poorer than dirt, I hate to say it. Forgive me if I speak ignorantly... Before new year, we tried to set an appointment with a specialist to look at Elder V´s back, adn the earliest appt was january 13. We go 3 hours by bus to get there because it´s the closest specialist that takes the church´s insurance card. we finally arrive at the doctors office. They said theyre really behind schedule, and we had to wait 1 to 1.5 hours to get in, no big deal. But Elder V goes in for at maximum 10 minutes. He comes out and says that the doctor said he needs an Xray or he cant do anything to tell him what´s wrong with his back. So we call the President´´s wife, and she looks up a place to take an Xray where we were. With a lot of luck, we find the place to do an Xray. It´s also really crowded in this place, and we wait another hour or so to do the Xray. When we find out that we cant pick up the Xray until later that week, we travel back home, 3 hours, planning to return the same week to pick up the Xray and have another appt with the first doctor specialist. But when we call the doctor´s office to confirm that we can get an appt that same week, they said the next opening is January 26th now. So we have to wait until then just to get checked out. The problem is Brazil doesnt have many doctor´s here, so every office is jam packed. And thats just for the people who are willing to pay a private hospital to get checked out. People who dont have money have to go to public hospitals, where it takes up to many many months to just get a normal appt that isnt an emergency. It´s kind of sad, but basically this adventure took up an entire day here in Birigui!
   Now for some good stuff. Sorry about the rant, but there are many things about the government/medical system/ school system that are pretty awful. But the people, nature, climate, everything else is great!
  Mom, you mentioned that family we visitied with Gustavo. We gave the mom´s sister a blessing, because she had some health problems that werent diagnosed, and they were really worried what was going on with her. When we returned later that week, she didnt have anything wrong with her. You could tell they were stressed about the medical situation, but after the appt with her doctor, they were so happy and relieved. It was pretty cool. They are so nice to us, and always when we tell them we have to leave their house to go to another appointment, the mom always says ´´already? It´s so early!´´ with a really sad look in her eyes haha but they all came to church on Sunday and loved it! For a long time, our class for all the visitors at church has been a bit empty. but this week we had 8 visitors, and a full class for the visitors. And lots other people who we´´re teaching didnt show! So we´´ve got some potencial right now to really have a lot of people at church, taking the sacrament, having great spiritual experiences as families. I love coming to church, and helping others come too. Last week, when we expected upwards of 19 people to come to church, and no one came, we were really really disappointed, because we know the blessings that come to those who really act and show their faith to God by coming to church, even if it´s hard and you have to wake up early.
   But we had transfers and Im staying in Birigui for 6 more weeks! I really expected to leave, because I only have 2 more transfers after this one, but Im excited to stay and witness 3 weddings (hopefully!!!) and lots more baptisms!

Elder Hirschi
´ps dont take the temple for granted!!!    anuary 19, 2015

Week of Wonders

January 12, 2015

 This week was interesting. It was filled with hours of walking in the hot sun, burning the whole day long, and eventually finding something good. That´s been the theme of this week- if you tough it out until the end, and trust in the Lord, youll find something good.
>    Basically as a missionary you can do a few things. You can visit people all day that are nice and like your visits, but will never come to church or get baptized because they dont want to. OR you can try and dig and dig and dig for the people who are ready to receive the message that we share, and who are willing to act on this message, go to church, get baptized, etc. This week we´ve been focusing more on using time to find the elites in our area. This means that yes you will probably see more results such as baptisms and ACTION of the people youre teaching, but it also means you will be spending more time in the sun, you will be more tired, you will want to stop more. But wait. Once you find a family who is ready to receive the gospel, and who listen intently to everything you say, it´s literally all worth it. Even though it´s the harder route to take, we´re finding that it´s a route we need to take if we´re going to see more results. Unfortunately, I think it may be taking a bit of a physical toll as well haha Tomorrow we´re going to travel 3 hours by bus to go to the hospital and get my companion´s back checked out. He´s been hurting quite a bit lately, and it´s time to get something figured out. Also, medically we have another sister in our district who is getting emergency transferred (a transfer that doesnt fall on the regular transfer day) out of our district, to move closer to a bigger hospital with more experience in physical therapy. This mission is a lot different than New York Rochester where the majority of the missionaries have cars, heating, and ac haha but Im loving it. Every time someone says ´´this heat is horrible isn´t it?´´ I just think of all the snow that is piling up at home and in NY and I smile to myself. Then I put on more sunscreen haha
>     But this week we had a miracle and found a family who is really ready to receive our message of the restored gospel. We were wakling with a kid from our ward, and we passed his old house. It was way in the back of some other houses, and we never would have tried to share the gospel with the people in his old house if he wasnt there. But we decided to try it, and the family who is living there now is truly golden. They received us with open arms, and we taught the couple and their two kids- and all 4 of them were listening intently and participating together. It was something you dont see every day, and I know we were guided to go there. We see miracles every single day. I have come to realize more that my time as a missionary will be unlike any other time in my life. Im really excited for the next phase of missionary life that will come next week. We have transfers again, and I think Ill probably leave Birigui to begin the end of my mission, probably in my last area. We´ll see!
>    But mom, Ive received two packages from home. I got one this week, with a lot of deodorant and peanut butter. Thank you so much I love it, despite the mandms only lasting a day because they got invested with ants. Actually they lasted more than a day because my comp took them out of the trash and ate what was left haha they dont have mandms here!
> Love.
> Elder Hirschi

First week of 2015

January 5, 2015

This week was crazy haha if I wrote everything that happened I think Id be home by the time I finished...anyways Dad I didnt even mention anthything about your Birthday in my last email so here goes HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! We didnt forget dont worry because we had an investigator who had her birthday the same day! (she says shes going to visit our house next Christmas and I think shes serious but we´ll talk about that later;)) I wrote a letter and will send it in the mail today, and I literally said a prayer specifically for this letter to get home without being robbed! So expect it in a few days!
  So, Ill just focus on two things that happened this week- New Years, and teh baptism of Pamela!
  Our New Years was awesome haha the festivities started when we had the baptismal interview with Pamela on New Years Eve. After the interview her mom went into the bathroom (who was really sick) and started making loud banging sounds there in the bathroom....hmm so we investigated and she was having a seizure/convulsion too haha crazy that my family had the same experience over New Years also. Cicera, the woman who had the attack, is a bit crazy. In all honesty it was a bit scary but not really because she takes literally 20 different types of medicine, so of couse something like this is going to happen eventually. But she woke up also after a short while, and didnt even want an ambulance, so her family just let her relax and go back to normal life haha it´s not he first time this has happened with her, which is sad, but she´ll be ok. She came to the baptism of Pamela on Saturday also, so she made a good recovery. New YEars Eve we may or may not have stayed up until midnight with the other missionaries in our area. We made a huge bbq with chicken, beef and pork, and coca cola haha the basics. We had some good times together making raps in Portuguese and shooting the breeze in Brazil for New Years. I couldnt stop thinking that I never pictured myself in Brazil celebrating New Years. I like these moments haha there´s a lot of things that have happened the past year and a little that Ive experienced and then thought to myself- I never pictured myself doing this...It´s great!
  The baptism was great. We woke up at 5:20 in a different city SAturday because we were doing divisions with some other Elders there, and literally from 520 until the baptism was a bit of a roller coaster ride of stress. From calling people and reminding them of the baptism, to getting everything ready, the chapel set up, and a ride for Pamela and her family, it kept us busy. But all in all everything worked out, and we had a bunch of people at the baptism. I dont have a place to put the memory card on my camera, but be assured that I have been taking lots of photos, and when I have a computer that can take a memory card Ill send them!!!
   But all in all this week was filled with waking up at 5am, staying up til midnight, running to the bus stop, calling everybody, and finally seeing the fruits of our labors! It was a great week all in all. Mom to answer your qs about marriage, yes it´s a problem here- for example, we´re teaching a family that is really close, really strong family, and the parents have a declaration of unity thing but not a marriage on paper. People live together in teh beginning without intending to get married, and they just stay together, but never get married! But the majority of the people are willing to get married- it costs more or less $140 so it´s not too bad. We have two weddings that we´re helping plan- we´re excited!

Happy New Year, HAppy Birthday Faj, and Happy week!
Elder Hirschi

What a week!

December 29,2014
This week was such a porkeria haha it was great! The weeks are starting to blend together and i cant believe that Christmas really was this week haha

First, the skype calls! I cant believe we didnt have any problems with the reception there in the attic of the random computer store, but everything worked out! It was so weird and I realized that it was the longest Ive ever gone without talking to my family- from April 2014 to December 2014- last year the last time I went from June to december not skyping or anything, and then December to April. But April to December was really long! It felt a little different than the other times I skyped- maybe because I had trouble tripping over my english. I think I didnt anticipate the difference in the fluccuation (sp?) between Portguese and English, and to try to switch off quickly was a little awkward. I really think that if we spoke English with the tone that the Portuguese speakers use- everything would sound really rude haha it´s weird! But I loved skyping and seeing how everyone is still the same family! It was awesome jumping into the world of family and USA for an hour or so, and then jumping back into Brazil- a new experience for me haha but i know that Mothers Day will come faster than fast, and Im not sure if Im ready yet...

First of all, this week has been a week of miracles for us, and one that I dont want to forget any time soon. Pamela is getting baptized this Saturday, and every time we go over there she has stronger and stronger faith, and is so ready to get baptized and make decisions that will change the course of her life forever! We´re pretty excited. I think I mentioned last week that Cintia and Luan are getting married in January. this is a miracle too, because Cintia was going to wait until 2016 to get married because of the pension that her dad gets because shes not married. She found out that she has cancer, and theyre getting married next month. It´s crazy how sometimes things happen in our lives that help us focus on things that matter. She´s handling it really well, and is still really happy and strong, and we have members of our ward who have gone through the same things she´s going through, who are really supporting Cintia also. More to come with them. Also this week, we challenged Marcia and Diogo to get baptized. they said its something theyve been thinking about a lot, and they really want to. Theyre also going to get married next month! They know it´s something they need to do, not only for them, but for their kids and their future. Weve continued to see miracles this week, and there are only more to see in the future! Im coming to love Birigui more and more every week, despite the rest of the mission calling Birigui more or less the forgotten land, or ´´hole´ of the mission haha but things are changing a lot here!

Christmas was great, and there are so many more things to talk about, but not enough time! thats why Im keeping a journal;)

Elder Hirschi

One week later....

December 15, 2014
 Well, as I promised, I have soem interesting things to put in this email!
> This week brought a lot of news, including new companion, having to know where things are and who people are, and new people as well that we´re teaching! My companion is Elder Vasconselos, from Forteleza. Yes his accent is way different, but the grammar and overall language is the same. He has some different slang, but I dont really understand much slang anyways haha so it doesnt matter much. But he´s pretty cool. It´s the first time Ive really experienced Brazil culture in full swing, because elder Oelkers was american, and I was always with him. But now I dont even have the option to speak english to him. This is a good thing because Ill become more used to hearing and speaking with a native, because it´s a lot different when youre speaking portuguese with an American. He can pretty much understand everything you say, even if its a little off. Now if I speak with errors he wont understand, which is good haha but it also means Ive come to apreciate a lot of things that I took for granted before. Among these things is 1) America, and our assumed culture. 2) American humor haha little things that most Americans would think are funny, I think a lot of Brasilians dont think are funny. 3) I dont know why, but Ive just come to love the USA during my time away from anybody fromthe USA. I love the USA!!!
> But a really cool thing this week: We were talking to people and clapping in front of houses when we met a man who lived in the US for 16 years, who spoke English. He was Brazilian but more or less spoke English. It was a really weird thing because he wanted me to speak English but when I tried my mind kept saying NO you have to think eat and sleep Portguguese! I had a hard time with it, which made me happy because it means that Im learning to process things in portuguese. We´re going to go back to his house and maybe Ill practice a little english first!
> We also had soem bomb lessons with Marcia e Diogo, Fernando, and Pamela this week, among others, but we´re focusing on these people this week most. Pamela, who has more sincerity than probably any other person ive met on my mission, is going to get baptized soon. She has lived an interesting life, and has had struggles, but now she really understands the importance of following the example of Jesus Christ in our lives, even if it´s hard. She had a really spiritual experience when we were there, when she told the story of how she knows God lives. Its moments like these that you live for on a mission, when people have real experiences that shape and change their lives. I think this has been the theme of this week- people having real questions and real experiences with God that have helped them grow and progress as sons and daughters of God on the earth. As missionaries we get to help people focus on things that truly matter, and it´s been a really gratifying week because of this.
> I love you all! thank you for the prayers and emails, they are helping a ton!
> PS keep praying for my portuguese haha
> PS mom as far as skype goes we will skype whatever time we want on Christmas, but we have a rule of no more than 40 minutes. I think it´s ridiculous but it exists haha but whats the time difference, do you know? Im in the Ribeirao Preto region but not sure if Birigui is different. Can you look it up?
> Love,
> Elder Hirschi

First Transfers!

 December 8, 2014

This week we were waiting anxiously for our transfer calls. it´s weird here because they let you know where youll be transferring to on Friday night, and you leave to arrive in your new area Monday or Tuesday. In NY you got a call Sunday night and arrive in your new area Tuesday. But our calls came, and I will be staying here in Birigui, while my Dad Elder Oelkers will be moving to an area called Perola, which is literally 3 blocks away haha he´ll be my Zone Leader, and will go to church in the same chapel as me on Sundays haha we were a little disappointed to be split up, but Im excited that Ill be getting a Brazilian companion! Im a little nervous because I still cant speak exactly directly here, but I knew that something had to change for me to keep learning faster and faster. I learned a ton from Elder Oelkers, but I think with a native speaker I will hopefully gain more confidence in speaking correctly with everybody. Right now I have confidence speaking with most people, mainly people I know, and I think if I can speak comfortably with a native speaker, Ill have confidence speaking with other native speakers also. Right now I dont have a clue on how to pronounce or spell my new compaion´s name. Hes from the Nordeste, or the Northeast part of Brazil, and generally the people there have thick accents haha we´ll see how it goes! look forward to an interesting email next week haha
  One cool miracle that I may have mentioned earlier, is that a family in our ward has a child named Ester, who accidentally swallowed a battery, and was experiencing soem serious problems the past month. Before the family knew she swallowed (sp?) a batterty, the family knew she was sick, but didnt exactly know what with. So they asked for a blessing from us for the daughter, who is18 months or so. We gave her a blessing, and after the blessing she started to get worse and worse. It was then that they took her to the emergency room, they got x rays, and found out that she had swallowed a battery. Because they found out quickly they were able to remove the battery and insert a feeding tube in her. Its a struggle for the family, theyll have surgery this week, and she cant put anything in her throat for 2 or 3 months, but she´s recovering. It was a cool miracle to see the power of the priesthood work in mysterious ways. If we hadnt given blessing and she hadnt worsened, who knows what would have happened. It was cool for elder Oelkers to see them for the last time, and see that the daughter is recovering. She has surgery this week, so prayers are always welcomed!

It was a great week, and we´re looking forward to another week of miracles, endless walking, and endless sunshine!-unless it´s raining really hard all day.....

Elder Hirschi

Thanksgiving week

This week was indeed Thanksgiving, but you could hardly tell here haha
On Thanksgiving elder Oelkers and I enjoyed some sorvete, and ordered what´s called the ´´Big Hot´´ here in Birigui, which is basically a big, nasty, mayonnaisse- filled hot dog. Enough said about that....
but it was a great Thanksgiving anyways! We had interviews with President on Thanksgiving, and we were going to try and get permission to have a feast with all the American missionaries here but we came up short...no Turkey (turkey is Peru here haha) or football, but it was all good. We had fun anyways!

This week was really interesting, filled with lots of ups and downs. We got a refferal from some other missionaries, for a woman named Aparecida. We visitied her, and although she has a problem with interrupting you whenever you try to talk, she´s great. It was a miracle at first because she said she was ready to be baptized about 2 years ago, but decided not to at the last minute. When we met with her she said that she knew she made a mistake, and still wants to get baptized. Soon. So for about a week we had planned for her to be baptized December 6. Afterwards she was going to travel to NY to visit her daughter. She was also possibly going to visit the sacred grove and palmyra, which wouldve been awesome. Everything was great, she was set to come to church, and then came Sunday. She came to church, and said she liked it, but was a little lost. After church she said that she´s not going to get baptized yet, even though she knows it´s all true. She´s going to call us up after the trip, which bvasically means she´s not going to call us up haha but this was the bummer of this week!

Save the best for last- Marcia and Diogo came to churhc again. Theyre a family who sincerely is looking for the truth, and for the right place to raise a family. they came to church, and loved  it again. They made a ton of friendships, and I noticed how much everyone in that family loves each other. they really know how to communicate like a family should haha and they were a great reminder of how much Im grateful for my own family. I think theyll be baptized and theyll see so many blessings in their lives, because theyre a family who loves each other. Weve been teaching a lot about the family, divinity of the family, and how our families are ordained by God to live together forever. Its one of the biggest reasons we´re here on the Earth- to gain bodies, experiences, and families. Im so grateful for my family and for everything theyve taught me! Thank you family!

We also taught a lesson to a mom and daughter, who had a fight in the middle of the lesson because the daughter asked a question that the mom thought was too casual a subject to be asked to the missionaries. The mom said ´Idont want to talk to my daughter. She annoyed me. She annoyed me!´´ It also made me thankful for my family, and for their willingness to always talk to me haha even when I made mistakes. Thanks again familia!

sorry my email didnt make much sense this week haha

but have a great week! I love you all!
Elder Hirschi

ps mom dont worry about me not having things on Christmas. I have a ton of stuff! Yesterday during our lunch, the mom had to sit on the concrete ground because they didnt have many chairs! This isnt uncommon at all here, and it´s considered a rich area of Brazil! Dont worry that I dont have stuff!!!!

Bomb Week!

November 24, 2015

This week was bomb!

  We had the baptism of Gabrielly this weekend, on Saturday. Marisa was supposed to get baptized, but she decided to wait a little longer. But it was the first baptism in our ward in a while, so we had some pretty good attendance from the members. AFterwards, we had another churrasco, or big barbeque, with a cake for Gabrielly! Nothing better! Also, one good thing was that the parents of Gabrielly came to the baptism too- it was the first time we met them, because they didnt want us teaching their daughter in their house (they were a little scared of us...not sure why haha). But at the baptism Gabrielly´s mom was crying (her Dad too Im sure on the inside...) and really enjoyed it. It was a great baptism. It´s a tradition to taek pictures before a baptism here in front of the chapel outside, and up until Saturday I had only seen many pictures of missionaries outside the chapel at baptisms in Brazil, and it´s crazy to think that Im actually here now, taking pictures in front of the chapel! Weird thought, but it makes sense to me haha
  Sunday we had some really good lessons. We made some progress with one golden family who is really trying to find truth and the right path for them and their kids in life. They are reading the Bookof Mormon together, and they think theyll come to church with the intention of becoming a part of it, not just as visitors. But what I love about them is their sincerety. They always stop everything theyre doing to listen to us. When this happens, the spirit can really testify. When you open your heart to the spirit, you can really feel a difference. But you have to open your heart. The thing is, the people like us coming over, but it´s really not us that they are wanting, even if they dont know it. We had another family (Pamela and Cicera) say that we are welcome every single day if we want, and of couse we were flattered. But it´s not anything we do that makes the difference. It´s the spirit that testifies to them, that gives them peace, and that calms everything down, that they like. Many times people associate us with this peace, but it´s really just the spirit that they want. And when people are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, they can feel the spirit all the time! That´s pretty much what we do as missionaries haha help people feel that spirit. It´s great.

The weather here is great, a little rain this week, but nothing we can´t handle :) Brazilians dont really celebrate Thanksgiving but we´re tryihng to get permission to have an American Party and have a churrasco or something on Thanksgiving. 

I love you all, and thank you for the prayers!

Elder Hirschi 


Wood floors in the family room NOOOOOO dont take for granted the beautiful carpet!!! Just kidding do what you want, but just know that when I come home Im going straight for the carpet haha

I cannot believe that Brittany is getting married on the 14 and Megan graduates the 17th- and I come home the 18th......but unfortunately I wont try to come home even earlier because im getting cut short as it is...I hope both are filmed and recorded!

November 17th, 2014

This week went by faster than any other week here, and maybe any other week on the mission. Not really sure why. But we have 2 baptisms coming up on Saturday, which should be awesome. We´re really getting the ward involved in missionary work, just like the ward in KC is right now, it sounds like.

We had some awesome lessons this week, especially with Pamela and Cicera. Theyre not going to get baptized saturday, but I think they will soon. Pamela doesnt have much, she just got out of a really rough relationship, is living with her mom right now, is stressed with her two little kids (fofinhos haha) but Ive never seen anyone that pays more attention to our message than her. She is more sincere than you can imagine, and she is earnestly and honestly searching for truth. Heavenly Father prepared her to meet us at the perfect time! I think it´s hard to deny that so much goes into God´s plans, and often we overlook everything that goes into our lives, and situations, and people we encounter. god doesnt control us, but he helps our situations and moves soem things around to help give us the ability to make decisions in this life- right decisions!

Ive gained a pretty strong testimony on my mission that we can have a real relationship with Heavenly Father- not just at church, not just during our prayers in the morning, or at night, but really we can have a relationship where we feel Gods presence during the day, during the times of peace, during times of difficulty. Dont limit God. I think maybe I mentioned this before, but many of us limit God and the capacity we have to feel the spirit during the day, at all times. Ill be the first to admit it. But Im working on changing my nature or rather letting God change the way I think and feel and react to things, so that I can feel the spirit at all times. It´s great! And a mission is a good time to try to feel the influence of the spirit at all times haha

I love you all!
Elder Hirschi