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 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