Elder Joshua Flake

Elder Joshua Flake

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 10 - Miami, Arizona: Miracles happen once in a while...

yes the subject line is from Princess Diaries.

ANYWAYS If one thinks miracles ended when Christ left or thinks that miracles are just tales from the scriptures, he or she doesn't have their eyes open. Miracles aren't just something you see out of Mother Goose's 365 Poems for the year book. They are for real. 
Heavenly Father for sure provides for His children, and it's pretty funny that sometimes He does this through the very inept and largely incapable person I am. (At least I have great companions)
So first, James Mills, the man we just baptized, has been a stellar help in finding people to teach. We are now teaching 4 people because of him. 3 of them are boys our age that want to have a solid testimony of Christ and straighten up their lives by following Him. But one issue is that they all smoke, and God has commanded us not to, so we are helping them quit. We went to Walmart and bought some supplies that did NOT include Nicorette packets...actually this program we have been given is quite unique. It involves 3 unusual items...

1 grapefruit juice
2 cinnamon mouthwash
3 vitamin c supplements 

With these three we can help someone stop smoking in 1 week. It is so cool. So we went to the church late at night after Walmart and began to teach them the process of quitting when Manny, an ex-convict and now a new member of the Church showed up out of nowhere. He talked about all the terrible things he had done in the past and about his old addiction to cigarettes and it was exactly what these boys needed to hear. It was absolutely perfect timing!!!!
So another thing...I had the opportunity to give a priesthood blessing to somebody in the ER who was internally bleeding. For my non Mormon readers, a priesthood blessing is one thing that every worthy male member of the Gospel holding the priesthood power can do. The priesthood literally is the ability to utilize the power of God for the Salvation of His children. One of the things that one holding the priesthood can do is heal and administer to the sick.
So with that said, we were in a lesson with Loyce (who just got baptized this weekend) and Brother Brown, who was with us while we were teaching, got a call on his phone. We found out a lady in our congregation, and whom I had not met before, needed a blessing for the bleeding. So we went to the ER where she was. And obviously, out of the priesthood holding men that were there, I was the most inexperienced and incapable, yet when she was asked who she wanted to give her the blessing, she pointed at me...


I had only given a couple blessings before. I wasn't very confident....yet she asked me. 
So I placed my hands on her head and did as I was taught. I was so nervous but Heavenly Father told me exactly what I needed to say. With Him, I blessed her that the afflictions would be taken from her and she would have the ability to continue to bless the lives of her family. I said much more and ended the blessing. She was in tears as well as her daughter who is not a member of the Gospel. She went from being sad and afraid to being comforted and strong. I am confident that in this experience, through the Priesthood God has entrusted me with, I was able to call down the power of Heaven and help one of Heavenly Father's children. This woman is also out of the hospital and is doing a lot better. Heavenly Father is for sure on the lookout for all of us individually. 
It was also awesome to see Loyce get baptized. She is the sweetest woman and it was incredible getting to see her son be able to baptize her. I remember my first week here falling asleep while teaching her because I was so drained physically....quite embarrassing to say the least. 
It also has been raining a lot which is purty weird considering that I am in a desert. The rain kinda smells funky. I also have decided that everything in the desert is trying to kill me. There is a cactus that if you brush up against it, will fire it's needles at you. I lucked out and ALMOST figured out the hard way. But where I am at in the mountains is wonderful! It isn't too hot which is also great. 
We had a zone conference which is basically when a bunch of missionaries in a group of areas in the mission meet together and learn from the mission president. We learned a whole lot! I know that serving others in this mission doesn't exclude the members of the church too! 
To be honest, I love it here...and I will miss it when I leave. I know that I unexpectedly came here to Miami, but my lack of hesitation to come here proved itself. I know and have known that the Christ is continuing to shape me and mold me into the servant God wants me to be.
Speaking of shaping and such, I am making a whip....not easy...but today I have been making the handle...pictures of the finished product will come next week. I have actually learned a lot about woodwork. I guess I am trying to follow Christ's example a little too literally and am becoming a carpenter as well. KIDDING. But for real, I am loving it out here!
I know that our Savior lives, and while many miracles happen every day, the greatest miracle happened when Christ...out of perfect love for us...Died for us. I bear testimony and share my witness of His hand being outstretched to God's children.

Elder Flake
My buddies smoking their last cigarette! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 9 - Miami, Arizona: Hello!

So I don't have a whole lot of time so this will be immensely short!

There were two baptisms on Saturday night which was tremendous. It is truly amazing to see the progress of people and how they make steps to come closer to Christ! I am so amazed by all the progress people are making here! And my companions and I are just instruments in the Lord's mighty hand, but we know that he is guiding us to people that are ready to hear our message!

Other than that, I was able to see quite another hilarious thing. Anyone remember the picture of the guy I sent my first week here that was playing with a toy bus in the parking lot? Well I saw him again but this time he upgraded to a larger red truck...pictures will soon follow! It was one of the funniest experiences of my life!

We drove to Kerney and along the way, we saw Saguaro Cacti everywhere! I mean these things are huge and only in Arizona

Also, one of the people we have been working on asked me to baptize him which is a huge honor! I don't know if I will be here or in Brazil, but we'll see. I still have no idea about my visa!

I also get the opportunity to teach little children. I love kiddos! 

Also, I do a lot of pull-ups. I am doing this thing that every time I walk in and out of my study room, I do 5 pull ups...BOTH WAYS. My arms are getting tired and it is motivating me to not gain too much poundage.I am practicing for a mission-wide 5K coming up soon. 

The sunsets here are astounding and the people are great! Heavenly Father loves His Children and this is evidenced by this gospel we have! I mean, this is truly amazing! I love seeing how much people change. Jesus Christ is our perfect example!

I love you all! Keep Christ in your thoughts and study His words daily!

Love Elder Flake

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 8 - Miami, Arizona: Week 2 or 3 in Arizona....I AM NOT SURE

Well this has been yet another fantastic week. Saturday night, we got invited to go to the reservation (which is a ways away) to go see one of the little girls that we are baptizing do an Apache Sunrise Dance....it really was very interesting. We drove to the heart of the very dilapidated reservation and it was insane. The church there has like bulletproof windows. Everyone that lives there is getting paid by the government to live there, so nobody works...and they go a little crazy. We had to get special permission, but we drove there and there was an enormous fire and a lot of Indians doing some crazy chanting around the fire...Jalen, the girl we are baptizing, did so great. It was a lot of fun and the people were really nice and a little weirded out that white dudes in ties came and joined in on the ceremony. I got asked to dance by an Apache girl...but don't worry I refused. 

Other than that, it has been insanely busy. My trainer, Elder West says that there is an insane amount of work to do and he has been out for 21 months! We are baptizing two this Saturday...the Mills family. They really are great people. During our last lesson with James, a big burly Russian kinda guy, I expressed to him that I felt it necessary that he know that many people would eventually be taught the Gospel in his home...which wasn't my words! Then he later talked about a dream that he had before he heard of the Church in which people were coming in and out of his house being taught true words that he didn't know at the time....The Holy Spirit speaks mightily to Heavenly Father's children for sure! 

So we began teaching Brett, a younger guy, and then he brought two friends that were ready to hear the gospel as well. They are getting baptized November 21. It has been awesome! There are now 8 people in our area on date for Baptism and many more the Lord is preparing as well! 

General Conference was also a blessing. Hearing the words of prophets, especially on a mission, are life changing and call for much soul searching

SO as far as my feelings go for being a missionary:

-It's really difficult
-members help with the work and feed us great food
-I am slowly becoming more Christlike (not even close but worth working my hiney off for!)
-I have been pretty sick, but Heavenly Father provides a way to accomplish the things that are commanded to us, so the work has not slowed down a bit

I love you all! 

Love Elder Flake!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 7 - Miami, Arizona

So let me start off by saying that being in the field is amazing.

Once I flew in, I was day trained by Elder Stowell, and he showed me around Mesa and we contacted a few people that are getting baptized soon. It was also raining...which is a rarity in the desert...but the sunset was unbelievable...and the rain was immensely powerful! 

The next day was transfer meeting. President Jensen is my mission president, and he is spectacular. At a transfer meeting, you find out who your new companions are....and I have two! Elder Riding and Elder West. We all have unique names I guess ha!

But we were driving out to the area that we were assigned (there are about 60 different areas in this mission), and it is located in Miami...which is an hour and a half outside of Mesa....and it is literally what you would say, "In middle of nowhere." 

Don't believe me...THIS PLACE IS INSANE..but awesome

Miami Arizona is named after the mine that came and established it...Now it still is a mining town...but the mine is a lot smaller than before....But I guess you could say that this place is rough...To paint an adequate picture...Imagine a place up in the deserty, dusty mountains where there are 85% gravel and dirt roads...and stray cats are rampant....now imagine this combined with the vast assortment of drug addicts and other such things. The houses are about 100 years old...and very dilapidated. Half the people in the town not living in a house, live in shacks or very old musty trailers. There are maybe 5 exceptions...but....This place is crazy!  I will make sure to include pictures...

But honestly there are so much that goes on that I cannot include in these emails...But at least I keep a daily journal! 

Anyways...As far as the gospel growth out here....it is wonderful. Even though I have been here in this place just for a couple days...I have fallen in love! I have been able to teach people about the restored gospel. I have seen miracles. Literally miracles. I know that God lives. I had the chance to invite someone to be baptized and how reassuring and comforting to see them willingly accept. This gospel changes lives...and this town needs it. They need something to help carry them through their rough lives and really need help. I have met some of the kindest people....The power of God is mighty...and I am so weak...but I have a job to carry the word to these people!

and I have also met some of the wierdest.. I will make sure to explain about that too when I send my photos...(which will be quite a few)

Anyways I love yall!

Love Elder Flake

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 6 - Provo MTC: Semana seis... Finalmente

So this has been a fantastic week! I am so grateful for everything I have learned here in the MTC!

So I guess the secret is out that I am actually going to the Mesa, Arizona mission for a little while until I get my Visa! I couldn't be more excited! 

For one, teaching in English is such a blessing and a lot better than I thought it could be! I have only done it twice since I have been here....but hopefully I can express myself in English again! 

Segundo reason... MY SIBLINGS CRYSTAL AND JASON SERVED THERE. So if anything, I am so grateful for the chance to do what they have done! A lot of people told me I would go there, but I actually got called to Brazil....BUT SIKE they sent my papers back to the prophets and now I am going to go to Arizona.

It was bittersweet parting with Elder Crabtree and Elder Wyatt. Those two are definitely some stellar individuals! 

So guess what...I LEFT THE MTC and it was INSANE. I went to go get some sleeping medicine with my companion so a security guard drove us to the store. I passed by Jason's place as well as James's. hahaha I don't know if they heard me screaming out the window! It was weird going into the store and seeing Halloween stuff out! I went in here when it was like summer. It's cold now! hahaha jeepers has time passed!

I am looking forward to being able to share the gospel forreal...gosh I have learned so much! 

Other then the monstrosity of leaving the MTC, I did also made another monstrosity....another language mistake...bigger then my last one....

So we we started teaching over skype and teaching people from other countries that speak Portuguese...and Elder Crabtree and I skyped Sylvia and she was really cool! Our message was about prayer. Prayer is something super awesome, we told her that it is not just a petition to Heavenly Father when we need something....it is an act of alignment between us and him. We align our will with the blessings that he already has promised us. We are alignment our plans to his Great Plan. We asked her, "Why do you pray in the name of Jesus Christ?" 

After some thought, she said, "I don't know. Because we are honoring him?"

And I said in a way yes! We are honoring him, but often times we all pray in the name of Christ and skip over why. I told her that when we pray in the name of Christ, our thoughts are Christ's thoughts. Our words are Christ's words! When we say this prayer, we are trying to pray to Heavenly Father as Christ would pray to his Heavenly Father. We are trying to see God's children as Christ would see God's children. We do this because He is a perfect example, and if our mind is like Christ, we grow closer to Heavenly Father. 

NOW the verb in portguese "to focus" is focar and the verb "to hang" enforcar.....so at the end of this beautifulish message I asked her something quite different than, "can you focus on the name of jesus Christ in prayer?"

I said, "Sylvia, can you hang yourself in the name of Jesus Christ?"

yeah that was bad....

Anyways to sum the rest of this week up:
I sang a piano duet in church
I got to see some very influential people give some devotionals
I directed traffic in pouring rain (and in midst of mothers whose eyes were pouring as well) 
I traded for a bowling ball tie...super awesome
I came closer to Christ

Anyways, talk to ya next time....'cept next time I'll be in the State of the Saguaro Cactus Arizona

Love Elder Flake

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Week 4 - Provo MTC: It's been almost a Month

I can't believe I have been here for a month! Time for sure flies by! Like I might have said before, the days are incredibly long but the weeks fly by!

It's funny that I am one of the veterans here at the MTC now. The English speaking missionaries only have to be here for 12 days as opposed to my 6 weeks....I knew learning a language would take some extra effort....

I have two more weeks until I am either in Brazil or possibly reassigned until I get my visa! I am so stoked for whatever may come!

Now it is such a trial and a blessing to be a zone leader. I mean it is so fun. This new district that came into our zone had 8 elders! 4 are going to capo verde, 3 to Mozambique, and 1 to Toronto Canada. haha they are so funny! Being a leader requires that you love those you lead...and these Elders are not hard to love. Three of them joined the church in the past 16 months and have such interesting testimonies of the restored gospel! When we were going to the gym, I had my shirt tucked in...and one of them said something and I looked back and all of them had their gym shirts tucked in....it was so funny. They crack me up.

I bruised my calf when playing basketball yesterday with some elders that were leaving...I will miss them! I actually bought an ankle brace too. I use up that 45 minutes a day that we get to exercise. I come out of that gym bruised and muito cansado and incredibly sweaty.

As far as the Portuguese goes...I have no idea how to gauge my progress but an elder came from brazil and is on our floor and he doesn't speak any english. I talked to him for like half an hour and it was great. Still a language barrier for sure but we find a way to communicate when we see eachother. I mostly can get by. If you know like 45 different verbs and somewhat how to conjugate them...you can get by. I try to study really hard and ask tons of annoying questions in class. There seriously is no better way to learn a language...because the way I am learning so fast is by finding words to say to teach people the Gospel!

I feel like the Lord makes the language hard enough to be a trial, but helps us enough to accomplish the plan He has for us.

Another thing that slapped my hiney this week:

Listening to President Holland...it was a recorded talk....but it doesn't matter. His words sunk deep and I won't ever forget them:

When Joseph Smith went in the woods to pray....what happened to him before his prayer was answered and he saw God the Father? His tongue was bound. The adversary "bound [his] tongue so that [he] could not speak." At that moment...the adversary, Satan, would have wanted more then anything at the time to end the life of Joseph Smith...for so he may have thought it would prevent the gospel from coming forth...But in Genesis it talks about Satan having power "to bruise thy heel" but we have power "to crush [his] head". So because Satan had no power to end a life, he did the second worst thing that one could do....bind the tongue.

If I refuse a prompting from the holy spirit to talk to someone and proclaim the Everlasting Gospel...then I have let the adversary win. I know that my job is to submit my all to God and He will lead me to those to teach. Nothing is worse then missed opportunities...and nothing is worse then your tongue being bound

Elder Madrigal, one of the new elders told me of a dark day he had (and he calls me All-american...not sure why but yeah). Anyways...he was on the streetside ready to commit suicide when two missionaries felt the prompting to go and talk to him. Long story short, he is here on a mission proclaiming the gospel....but think what would have happened if those missionaries refused the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Elder Madrigal wouldn't be here on a mission and probably wouldn't be alive.

Don't let your tongue be bound. Learn the truth. Proclaim the truth. Bless the lives of others

I have learned how important it is to lift others...Keep others in my prayers....actually pray every morning after I wake up, and every night before I go to bed. Gosh as a missionary that hasn't left the training center yet, I have probably used up my amount of prayers allowed....(Just kidding you can't do that, silly)

Prayer is so important...It is crazy to see how people don't take advantage of the blessings always!

Anyways I love yalls emails and I am glad I get some time to share about whats happenin here.

With Love!
Elder Flake

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Week 3 - Provo MTC: Meu nome e Elder

To sum everything up:

The days are really long
but the weeks go by fast!
I can't believe I am already on my third week!

So it is looking like I am going to be here at the Provo MTC for another 3 weeks....BUT THAT IS TOTALLY COOL

The thing is, I know I am supposed to be here. Hard to gauge the blessings I have gotten, but if I was to place it on a scale from 1 to 10 I would give it a 10000 with a remainder of 2. Seriously I love missionary work!

Language seems to be a common question for most, so I will say the gift of tongues that they speak of in the scriptures is a real thing. I am not exactly gifted with the ability to learn languages, but Heavenly Father is there to help me out for sure. The way we learn the language is so unorthodox but awesome! We are to teach about Christ every day almost to people and every time, I feel the spirit helping me with words that I may have only studied once or maybe heard somebody else say. I am able to sit with my companion and a random person and give about a half hour lesson in Portuguese if that gauges our level of learning for ya. Definitely not fluent or close to fluent, but with His help, I will first achieve fluency of teaching with the Spirit.....and then the language will come!

So four people out of our district of eight left to Brazil because they got their Visas....but I wasn't upset about having the chance to be here for three more weeks! Being a Zone Leader is such a blessing I EVEN GET A PHONE (that has restrictions but still)

Every day there are new challenges....New Elders and Sisters...new problems too....BUT IT IS SO GREAT!

Last night we spent a little time looking at the Mormon maps website (because that is an approved website) and we looked at the homes of all our district members. Once it was my turn, I showed them street views of fairview and of the natchez trace! Gosh I need to repent because that made me miss home a tad, but I am so appreciative of where I am from! My district fellers had no clue I came from the prettiest state! haha! (Yes the Texans were jealous). Regardless, I am very happy with where I am and where I am going...and two years may be quite a bit of time...but it is the right thing to do!

The highlight of my week was not what one would typically call their highlight of the week (because there are always fun crazy things that happen here)

But this was different.....I feel a lot different too! I listened to a recording from Jeffery R. Holland...one of the apostles of the Church. His Talk was titled, "Missionaries for Life." Hard to fathom how much it literally changed me, but he spoke about how important missions were. How important obedience was. He talked about a scripture is Mosiah 27 where the people were "astonished" by the words of the missionaries! I know I don't do justice to his words when I say this, but it is vital that we remain as close to the Spirit as possible. I am called to a position where I am inviting people to come unto Christ for the Salvation of their being. What job is more important? Whatever my aspirations are after my mission...they are not important. 50 years from now, I am positive there will not be a day that I dont think or talk about an experience from my mission.....and truthfully, my mission doesn't really end July of 2017....it continues through life! I am not here to "do my time" only to return home and be normal....I am going home with the knowledge and experiences from my mission to bring people unto Jesus Christ...to be baptized....and to not just know, but EXPERIENCE His atonement.

I know that we are all in this together. I have to answer....in Portuguese....questions such as, "Where do we come from?" "Why are we here?" "What is the significance of a Savior?" "What is the Gospel?" I know going to Brazil will make these things even more real for me! But I know for sure, through this Gospel, the answers to these questions. I am a missionary for life. Until I die, I will be working to "astonish" people here by bringing them the words from Heavenly Father. I might be in a suit and tie right now, but  whatever uniform, person, or occupation I fulfill after my mission, I want to continue to spread the Words and Love from Christ. Like I said, I feel so differently about it all!

Isn't that great?!?!  I have always had a love for the teachings of Christ, but my love has grown immensely more! I have learned that my goals and aspirations to do great in the Secular world don't matter in the way that they used to. Yes, I have big goals and big dreams, but they are now not geared at being successful for myself, but for my Heavenly Father. And I can use my talents to forward His kingdom!

Sorry I don't mean to rant....but I just had to share that. I don't mean to take away from my words,but if I was to compare my transformation to something, I would relate it to the episode in Avatar the Last Airbender where Prince Zuko was confused and then went into a coma, having a change of heart....only to come out a stellar person that helped save the world.

...........I guess I could have talked about Alma the Younger in the Scriptures that went into a 3 day coma that changed his entire being...But Avatar works too!

I just wanna share my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I know that Christ Lives! I know that God gave Him to us unworthy people to suffer for our sins, and to be there when we fall short. I know that His Gospel is again on the earth today and has been restored to its fulness by a modern prophet. I know that this Gospel is true. I know Christ will return, and if we are worthy, and endure to the end in righteousness, Heavenly Father will extend his arms, and take us into the Celestial Kingdom.

Love Elder Flake

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Week 2 - Provo MTC: HELLO PEOPLE

So I apologize in advance for how short this message may be as I am a very busy Elder. ANYWAYS. I have had the most eventful week ever. 

First off, my companion and I were appointed Zone Leaders which was humbling. We have only been here two weeks and we are serving hundreds that have been here weeks longer. 

Other then that I really experienced something incredible this week. Essentially, long story short, there is a member in our district that rooms with me that was having issues being here and also being around other people. I have never truly had an experience where it would be hard to love somebody and I have been on this earth for 19 years. I just remember how difficult and how much I did not want to do this....but I prayed for the ability to love and understand this person. And then thereafter I went and talked to this Elder until 12:30 am(which is very late considering we get up at 6:30! I really felt God's love for him, and now things are wonderful. I knew I could not be a zone leader if there was enmity between me and anybody I serve. Love is the most important part of this Gospel. "For God so Loved the World that He" DID WHAT? He gave his Son Jesus Christ so that we can live for ever....and living forever and for eternity constitutes us having to be perfect through Him. And how was He perfect? He loved everyone, and understood everyone....And he sees everyone so lovingly...we cant comprehend. All we can do is pray to feel that love for others to Become more like Him!

So why do we pray in the name of Jesus Christ? 

We pray in the name of Christ because when we talk to God our Heavenly Father; we are not just asking him for blessings.....We are praying as if through the eyes of Christ...making an attempt to see the world as He sees it. Prayer is more of an alignment with God rather then a request to him. What we want should be what Christ would want. 

Anyways, as far as spirituality goes, I will tame myself. I literally love everything about what I am doing and what Heavenly father is doing through me and all these missionaries throughout the world. I am so small compared to this Grand Work that He has given us to do!

I am still here at the Provo MTC awaiting my Visa haha! I guess God has a reason for everything and being called as a Zone Leader may have just been it! 

Hmmmm..... Well I have been very incredibly exhausted lately. If you are interested here is what my schedule looks like here at the MTC

6:30-7: Wake up and get ready for bfast

7-7:30: Eat

7:30-9:30: Study on your own and with Companion

9:30-12:30: Either class with Irma Sandholtz or teaching people in Portuguese. 

12:30-1: Eat

1-4:15: Class with Irmao Alvez (story about him coming later)

4:30-5:20: Gym time...BASKETBALL FER DAYS

6-7:30 Dinner and shower.

7:30-9:25: Class 

9:25 open letters because our Zone was challenged to wait til this time so as to not be distracted during the day!

9:30: Back in the residence

10:30: Beddy time

this is definitely a rough schedule because it changes around a lot, but as you can see it is a 16 hour day!

Also funny thing:

I sprained my ankle and was on crutches...But it is just purply blue now

Another thing:
Irmao Alvez is from Brazil studying English at BYU. He teaches here at the MTC and does a good job, mainly because his class is 100% portuguese. 

Anyways he stopped teaching his lesson yesterday just in middle of his lesson and took me into the hall. If I remember anything from Elementary school.....this is not a good thing. Instead of getting upset at me he just talked to me and said a bunch of uplifting yet weighty things. He just told me that I am a leader and that I have a ton of capabilities and that he knew it was random but that he just feels like I have heavy responsibility for the future...He said a lot of stuff but I was humbled. I feel so inadequate out here. Everything is just so incredibly humbling that you just feel like trash. Irmao Alvez had no idea that the Branch pres had talked to me just the day before about being a Zone Leader. 

So essentially, I need to gear up and step up. I can't be any laziness. Laziness never brought in the Holy Spirit..and I sorta need that to be able to bring people closer to Christ. 

So to close off this email that I said would be short and wasn't....I love yall so much! I miss Tennessee loads...I miss my family....my doggy Biggs....and all my friends......but regardless of any homesickness I may feel for these two years, I hope to return a better Man. And essentially I hope to come home knowing that I put 100% of my ability to spreading His words throughout the World. 

Last story holy smokes I can't believe I forgot this:

Anyways there is this lady Sharon that is legitimately struggling with her faith in Heavenly Father. She came here to the MTC because her friend said it might help her out. So she came to work here as an legitimate investigator of this Faith. Typically the people that come here to be practiced on by the missionaries are Mormon. So Sharon came here to be an English investigator and sadly all I am given is Portuguese investigators... So after meeting her my first night here, I kept having a desire to go and teach her. And my companion and I saw her last thursday in the cafeteria. So after talking with her for a while, I expressed the desire we had to teach her. So after three days of going of going to the English building and trying to find an open spot to talk to her (lots of missionaries teach her) we finally found a good time to do it. Hahaha my companion and the English people might possibly could have been annoyed at my persistence. (Glad Elder Crabtree is patient ha) 

So we went in the room and prayed and just talked with her. She has been abused for most of her life by husbands and fathers that essentially loved her not for who she was, but IF she would achieve their expectations. Her only son was killed when he was 3 months old. She believed in God, but psychologically she found a hard time trusting him because in her words, He was angry with her, and the last time she prayed to him, her son was taken from her the next hour. She had a hard time with all this, and really struggled. So With the Holy Spirit, I told her, "Sharon, do you think that because you have felt like you have been conditionally loved in the past, that Your Father in Heaven loves you conditionally as well." 

She looked a little struck but it was as if a light had turned on in her head and she said tearfully, "Yes, I think that could be it." 

My companion opened up to her as well and told about his mother's experience of having a stillborn....the spirit was so strong as we both testified of the unconditional love Heavenly Father has for us. 

I told her that he loves us so unconditionally that he sent Christ, His Only Begotten, to be sacrificed. We invited her to pray at the end of the lesson and she said she wanted to do it personally because she hasnt done it in 13 years...which we understood. 

So that was that. She told us that she felt something super strong in the air, almost like a "fierceness" from her own words. We explained to her that the feelings she was feeling was from The Comforter...Also known as the Holy Spirit that not only shows us comfort and love from God, but also testifies of truth.

Anyways fam....I love and miss yall to pieces!!

Love Elder Flake

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Week 1 - Provo MTC: Oi Meu Familia!

Hello! Well its Elder Flake here just chillin at the missionary training center with my 60 minutes of computer time! I also apologize for the typos because I will be writing fast and I am so used to typing in Portuguese! 

Anyways, I am still at the Provo MTC awaiting my visa to head down to Brazil! So basically for the next week, I will be chilling here with missionaries from all around the world! 

I must say this week has been splendid! ABSOLUTELY FLIPPEENG HARRD but bery satisfying! 

Primero numero: We have to wake up at 6:30 every morning which was a slap in the hiney! But that is nothing compared to the difficulty of study! 
Segundo numero: class is in almost all Portuguese, but I have the greatest teacher! Irmao Belchoir is his name! (Brother Belchoir en ingles) He is a stellar individual! He is very intelligent and he is also from Mozambique Africa!!! To build an adequate image of somebody, just imagine an african 5'6" that is a spiritual version of Akon. (According to himself) He is hilarious but also an amazing tutor and mentor! I spend 4 hours of study with him singing, speaking, and eating Portuguese forreal......minus the eating part kinda!

Other then that, it is a 16 hour day of prayer, study, eating, and more study. 

funny then spiritual then Funny story: 

So, I found out my first day wednesday that I would be teaching a man  Thiago in only Portuguese that Friday....That's two days to learn enough language to teach somebody about Christ and the Book of Mormon and also about the Atonement! I leaned heavily on prayer....My companion Elder Crabtree (a beast of a man) and I prepared notes to just read off and teach him. But before we went in the room, we felt like we shouldn't take our notes....so we submitted. We got in there and greeted him, and taught about 8 minutes about prayer and about the Church of Jesus Christ...It was wonderful coming out of there, but we knew it was still pretty rough...

SOO the next day, right after dinner, we came to our classroom and saw a note on the board from Irmao. It said, "Lesson 6:30 Thiago room 430" We didn't believe it. That was in 5 minutes, and the 6 other elders in my district were freaking out. I was not particularly tickled either......I thought it was a joke! I mean, I thought Irmao being a funny Akon kinda guy was playin a joke on us! WAS THERE EVEN A ROOM 430 IN OUR BUILDING? lo and behold, there was in fact a room 430 because our district went to scout it out and yes, Thiago was sitting in there and the 8 Elders (4 companionships) had to go in and teach him two by two. Elder Crabtree and I were last....

So we got in there and after Praying in portuguese and reading in the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10:4-5 where it says "e pelo poder do espirito santo, podeis saber a verdade, de todas as coisas." 

And by the power of the holy spirit, you can know the truth of all things.

Fam, after Thiago read that scripture I looked him in the eyes and bore testimony that the scriptures are ordained and true. There were given to us to not only live a good life, but to prepare us to meet our Maker again. I firmly told Thiago that the Book of Mormon is another witness that Christ is the Son of God and that reading and praying, one can know if he really felt the sins of the world and provide a way to return to heavenly father. It was wonderful. 

One thing I learned is that before I learn the Language of Portuguese, I need to know and learn the Language of the holy spirit, because once I understand how to open those channels, an outpouring of peace from the Comforter can bear witness of all truth from On High.............and that whilst my Portuguese is rougher then a dead animal haha I can feel the words enter my mouth.

Now in our third lesson with Thiago I realized afterward, while the lesson was decent, I made a grave mistake...


There are two verbs in Portuguese that are very close to each other. Poder which is to ask and podar which is something else. 

So at the end of the lesson I said to Thiago, "Poda orar?" (Using the podar verb and not poder)


..........................yeah, my bad

...........he kept his composure pretty well but I realized that his chuckling before the prayer was symbiotic with my asking of him to fart. 

So yes family times are good here. I have only been gone 6 days, yet it feels like forever. I have learned so much! 

The food is decent just don't drink the juice. It is probably the only ungodly thing here excuse my sacrilege. 

I study so much and I love it. I never thought that I could delve into the scriptures and another language so fast. I am so humbled by everything and also apologize for such a long email. There are thousands of people here so I feel like a tiny fish in a humongous lake. I am surrounded by great examples too. I learn a lot from other missionaries as well.

I am going to send some photos in my next email when my companion and I do our laundry because I forgot my card ha! I miss Tennessee and I talk about it til lights out at 10:30

I love yall!

Elder Flake