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Elder Maruska - 11/23/2022

Bom dia tudo mundo!

I hope this email finds you all well and enjoying the cold! It's starting to really heat up here again which is not super exciting, but I guess we'll have to find fun ways to stay cool.

The mission has continued to be a really good experience, but one that is really challenging in a number of different ways. Our purpose as missionaries is to help people come unto Christ through faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring until the end. So everyday, we set out to find people in our area that are looking to do just that. But however, when you are having trouble finding new people to teach, it makes the whole idea of fulfilling your purpose hard and at times even demoralizing. This area saw a huge boost in baptisms two months ago; but as people were baptized without finding new people to teach, our teaching pool went from 10 to basically 0. 

This has been one of our main focuses these last few weeks - to find as many people as we can. I am happy to say that this last week and a half has been incredible on the finding front. We have revitalized our teaching pool and we have been blessed to see God's hand in His work every day as we work hard to fulfill our purpose. 

In the last two weeks, we have been able to meet a man with severe depression named Sandro find peace through the scriptures. Through our English class, we met a woman named Mayara who introduced us to her husband, her coworker and eventually the coworker's family. The family has welcomed us into their home to teach about Christ and as offered to teach us how to cook some Brazilian food haha! We were able to meet a man named Elias recently in a longer Uber ride who is very interested in the knowing more about the Church; we shared about the Restoration and he connected with prophets and apostles being on the earth again as well as a single church under Christ. Through members, we have been introduced to friends and family. One of them being the mother of a recent convert who understood the importance of being baptized with the correct and only authority from God on the earth. Unfortunately, she got Covid and we haven't been able to visit her, but we are staying hopeful!

I am happy to say that I am finding a lot more of that missionary joy being outside of the office. I had the chance to talk to my Mission President on Monday and during our conversation he even said that the office isn't missionary work which I found both interesting and true, but at the same time it really is so different to be a missionary in the mission office and I am grateful to be out and on the streets and in lessons almost everyday meeting wonderful people, sharing my testimony that I have personally gained of my Savior and His gospel, and helping people know Him like never before. Another fun update is that during my same conversation with my Mission President, he asked me if I felt fit to be a trainer! I said, "It's funny that you bring that up because I have thinking a lot about just that and I would really like to train!" It's not finalized, but who knows, I might be training a little greenie starting next week!

We had a powerful lesson yesterday about the Book of Mormon and I want to share a little bit of the lesson with you guys. To preface, growing up I didn't really have a relationship with the Book of Mormon of the Bible. I didn't know how to apply scriptures into my day-to-day life nor did I understand the importance of the Book of Mormon. While I still have so much to learn about the scriptures, I have come to know few truths that I want to share:

1. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It is comparable to the Bible and works not against but with the Bible to bring the fulness of the gospel to everyone on earth.

2. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By first humbling ourselves to read, we can ask in faith whether this book is true. If the answer is yes, then not only is the Book of Mormon true, but Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly Christ's restored church on the earth.

3. Scriptures bring real peace into my life and they can into yours. If I am ever feeling down or stuck, I know that I can always open the scriptures to feel peace and find direction.

Happy Thanksgiving! I almost forgot that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Not to get too sappy but to express my truly grateful heart; I am grateful for this experience to be a missionary and to serve a mission here in Brazil. I am grateful for all of you wonderful people who have helped me get here one way or another and have continued to support me ever since. I am grateful for all of the support that I am receiving whether it's through emails, calls, mail, or packages full of candy from the states (shout out to my mom for 6 pounds of sour strips haha)! I am very grateful for my family and for the love of my life, Hallie McCall. This experience would not be the same without them, their support, and their love. I am grateful for technology and the opportunity that I have to stay connected with all of you!

I hope you guys all have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow! Time is flying by and I have been enjoying doing my best to soak up the mission. New transfer next week already too!

With love from Rio,

Elder Maruska

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