Elder Joshua Flake

Elder Joshua Flake

Monday, March 28, 2016

3.28.15 - Camaragibe, Brazil

So I would like to say that this week has been one that was extremely eventful. To sum things up...my mission was changed for the better this week. 

I would like to talk a tad about a challenge that I did. I read the Book of Mormon cover to cover for the second time on the mission and let me tell you how that went....

1 My testimony of the Restored Gospel grew. I know that we have a living prophet today. Thomas S. Monson

2 I received many many insights that I wrote in my study journal. 

3 In the last chapter of the book, there is a verse that invites us to pray to know if it is true. Why? Well in Matthew 7, in the Bible, we learn that a good tree give forth good fruit. And a bad tree?? Bad fruit!! With this, we learn how to discern whether or not a person claiming to be a prophet is in actuality a prophet of God. So Joseph Smith, a prophet? Well I read the fruit....the book...that he translated. I prayed to know if it was true. I know that this fruit....The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is True. I know Joseph Smith, through the power of God, established the original church of Jesus Christ newly upon the earth.The world needs this book because everyone needs this church. For this I have been blessed the way I have been throughout my life.

SO can I please make a challenge to those at home that I love and care about that aren't members of this church!?!

Please read the book. Even if it is just one chapter. Moroni 10, the last chapter...

and then say a prayer about it!

Find out for yourself your potential and how you really play a part in the Eternal Plan of God. 

I wanna hear back from yall that accept the challenge.

Elder Flake

Friday, March 25, 2016

3.7.16 - Camaragibe, Brazil

This week has for sure been a blur. I got transferred to a new area here in Camaragibe. It is farther outside of the cities but has wayyyy more ground to cover. We get extra money to take buses to the appointments we set. I am super excited! At the same time....I miss my other area. I learned portuguese there yes...but at the same time....the people that I met were amazing. I love love love them and will for sure want to return there when my mission has ended. 

My new companion looks like Jack Grayson. Somebody please tell him. James....I am calling you out my friend. 

I woke up at 4 this morning to get here. Can't describe all the emotions of getting here because I am like drained in every way possible. I also have to go see some doctors this week for an infection in the finger but all is well. My main focus right now is learning this new area and getting to know everything about the members of the church so I can, with my companion, bring them to the happiness that we have as members of the Church of Jesus Christ!!!!

2.1.16 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

Aloha familia and my friends. It is Elder Flake. This has been a really great week and yes...I am terrible at sending this big email. Actually I apologize that I wont respond to your individual emails until later in the day. We have some things to take care of (specifically sightseeing in Olinda)
But this week has been hectic. We had to close and leave our assigned area for a day because of carnaval....a holiday that lasts a week and is insane. Carnaval is basically a week before easter to commit all the sin possible until easter. So yeah...it is pretty insane! Much sin and iniquities.
But I whipped up a quick voice recording. Did not have a lot of time to do much but yes.
Being on a mission is the greatest thing I have ever done. I have never been so happy. I am so excited for these people that I have been blessed to teach! My conviction has grown so much as well. YES I study a lot....it kind of is a commandment of God to study the word....but whilst all the word is in my head....I cannot share it effectively without the holy spirit. Its enough to teach the people about the Word but how great it is to be able to tell these people that the Word is true! And that they....each and everyone in the world....has the ability to first study a little and then pray and ponder on the words of Christ.
The greatest feeling has to be when I look in the face of an investigator and tell them that Christ died for them and we can know about this sacrifice through the words of prophets of old...but also of a living prophet today Thomas S. Monson. It is neat to see the changes that are wrought by this gospel as they truly apply this sacrifice of Christ in their lives.
So yes..I did not give much of an update on my well being and other things not relating to the Gospel but just know that I am healthy...the ankle is improving...and also life is just fantastic. I talk more about these kinds of things in my recording but yes...tchau tchau família! Até logo!
Elder Flake 

12.28.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

Yes Natal was fantastic. Grateful to talk to the fam and eat some good food....but most importantly feel close to our savior of course! Even being incredibly far from home...in complete different culture with a completeley different way of celebrating...I felt so close to the things that really matter!

I also saw an enormous frog....Like it could have eaten me...

ANYWAYS This week was great! A little slow because of the lack of finding people to teach....but great....AND WARM hahaha. I am used to the heat now. Honestly it feels to me as if it is 70 degrees all the time. We were sitting in the Bishops office and he had on his air conditioning and I thought I was going to die. I hadn't felt air conditioning in a very long long time hahahaha!

We had a Mission Conferance for Christmas and I prayed beforehand that I would understand the devotionals and speakers....and I UNDERSTOOD EVERYTHING. It was a tender mercy and yeah, my portuguese is terrible sometimes....but with God's power....I am being blessed. 

We taught a lesson to Roberto....a recent convert....and I invited him to prepare to serve a mission! He was so excited and the spirit was so strong. And my portuguese wasn't a barrier at all. 

As far as other things go...we got christmas packages from family, the members here, and also from other places in the world...so that was neat. We have so much food in our apartment...it could feed an army


Anyways, I hope that yall have happy holidays! I can feel the prayers sent my direction! 

Love Elder Flake

12.21.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

What did you drink when you were born? The subject of my email today. Something my companion mentioned to me today because of my insanity. Yes I haven't lost that I promise. 

Anyways, Elder Chelemberg was sick with Zica which is a sickness of the mosquito. I had the same thing the other week and it is pretty nasty and unpleasant. So I cleaned the apartment and also studied for two days straight. I really got some good insights and revelations if you would like to call it that. 

But I went on a split with Elder Villamar...the District leader....and we ran a couple kilometers home in the pouring rain...That was crazy! It was raining so hard! We also have so many ants in our apartment...but we got a bug zapper from a member and so I feel like christmas came a couple days early. The battery doesn't last but 1 minute after a 4 hour charge....but I sure enjoy myself in that one minute.....It literally makes all the bugs I touch explode....quite interesting to say the least. 

Also....Christmas is amazing! I have gotten into the Christmas spirit as I have been studying about our savior this month. Remarkable what he did. This is a very hard challenge that I have taken upon myself...being on a mission is not easy...But I know that through the power of the Savior, these challenges we face are toppled and we come out stronger. As heart breaking as it is when someone denies your message...the comfort and joy when someone is baptized rids all the feelings of sadness from the choices of others.

Merry Christmas folks. Feliz Natal. Look forward to talking with the family on Christmas day for a few minutes! 

Elder Flake

12.14.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

SO it was transfer week and luckily I will be staying right here in Jardim Atlantico! I have an immense love for this place I will not lie. And I finally can talk to people without getting flustered. I remember my first week I couldn't even tell who was members of the church and who was people learning about it.....pretty sad. But now, I am being so blessed to be able to communicate effectively!

As far as Natal goes (Christmas) There is not a whole lot of Christmas sprit! This place is filled with happiness, but it isn't like America by any stretch! Where is Santa! Who killed Santa! The members are great though. They have spirit. During a ward Christmas party, one of the members came in with blue silk pajamas and a blue sleeping hat (as close to santa as he could get) and yelled HO HO HO! And the children went nuts.

...and I was right along there with them...it was almost as if I was buddy the elf and I heard that santa was coming to the mall! I freaked out just a little bit and forgot to speak portuguese for a little bit. Got a few funny looks from the people. 

Anyways, we are sure walking a lot. I calculated the other day...we walked over 15 miles. It was insane. We get days like that, especially when people cancel on us. But, on the brightside, these days always turn out to be learning experiences. It is like the young man in Matthew that basically said, I am keeping the commandments, I am walking in thy (Jesus's) ways.....but what lack I yet?? 

 I am learning quite a bit as I do this work. I am learning the scriptures. I am gathering the children of Isreal and preparing them to meet Heavenly Father. I am learning how to commuicate to the hearts of men....and Portugues......

In truth, I am learning so many things that I couldn't include in here.

Anyways! This time of year is wonderful! Stay warm people of America! Don't get a cold. Down here if you get a cold, the people think that you cant drink cold water. Pretty hilarious. 

Feliz Natal
Elder Flake

12.7.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

So yeah I don't have a lot of time left to write but I wanna mention a couple of things here for yall!

First thing. I got to baptize Roberto...an 18 year old boy who is fantastic! It is so amazing to see the changes that people make to prepare themselves and follow Christ. He came to church this Sunday with a white shirt which is great. He is showing his respect for the sacred things we do like the Sacramant. And we never asked him to wear his Sunday best which is amazing!!

It is pretty hot here. The most wintery moment I had here was the other day when I chucked a huge chunk of ice that was stuck in our freezer out the window. (pretty cool to see the explosion!!)

Anyways, as far as the work goes. We are in the streets talking to people a lot, but mostly inside of peoples homes teaching. We spent some time talking about Christmas with these people and it is pretty sad that they don't understand the meaning of Christmas. A good portion don't even recognize it except to drink lots of alcohol. 

My area is great. We have more people that want to be baptized and as far as my portguese goes....quite a bit better hahaha. It is really hard at times, but I shared my testimony in church and also shared a lesson during a family activity with lots of people. Everyone keeps saying that I surprise them with how fast I am learning (I myself am surprised) BUT I KNOW THAT IT IS NOT ME ALONE. Heavenly Father is blessing me so much. I can feel his power as I study and learn. He is powerful, not me. 

Anyways this is myweek in a nutshell. I got attacked my a pigeon in my sleep which was terrible. It flew into our tiny room and Elder Chelemberg and I woke up screaming like tiny girls

Love yall
Elder Flake

11.30.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

So everybody like to hear the bad news first so I will go ahead and say I have been very sick this week with some virus I have never had before! But on the brightside, maybe my immune system is stronger now haha!

Serously though, I am loving this area! We have many people getting baptized on this saturday which is great! Two of them are boys under 19 so maybe be just will get to baptize two future missionaries! hahaha I love them and everyone in my area!

Speaking of which, I had a powerful spritual moment on a big hill this week! It is kind of ironic because many of the times in the scriptures, the Lord's annointed recieve revelation in the mountains (Mount Sinai, Mount of Transfiguration, Brother of Jared and the stones, Nephi, Jesus and the mount of Olives.....the list continues)

Anyways, we had gotten turned down by someone we have been teaching for a while which was a bummer because I not only loved her and her family but I could feel the love our Savior had for her! So with our shoulders sliightly slumped and trudging to our next appointment, we looked over the edge of the hill at our very vast area of Jardim Atlantico. And I will say that for the first time my entire mission I felt the weight of what I am doing here. I am Elder Flake. I have one companion, Elder Chelemberg. We have been called of God to bring his word unto his people that they might have everlasting life. I am very incapable, and not only in just the language, but I know that God will provide a way for me to teach these things unto his people. 

I also had quite a bit of reflection time this week as I laid in bed in our apartment for two days. I was pretty sick (and still am haha)

Whelp Happy Holidays people! Be grateful for everything ya got!!!

Love Elder Flakey

11.23.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

I am freezing. Just kidding. That was sarcasm....but I think my body is accustomed now to the heat a tad more. I can sleep with a sheet over me now comfortably haha!

This is such a great place! It surely is very blessed!

So updates on me here....We are teaching a lot of people....and I am at the point in this language that I can actually know peoples names.....SMALL STEPS PEOPLE

Funny story...Elder Mello, an Assistant to the Mission President (basically the prodigal son of the mission) went on an exchange with me and my companion. We got on the onibus to go back to our area after a training in the city and Elder Mellow asked me..."How confident are you with speaking to people?" I told him honestly, that in my own language...I could speak to anyone...but in Portuguese...I still need a little work....He said, "Well I could help you with this." So he stood up and faced the overloaded Bus and shouted"Elder Flake here is a missionary in your city Jardim Atlantico. He is a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he has some things to say that will help you and your families."

....oh dangit

So I stood up and said I DONT SPEAK PORTGUESE....But I know that we have a message to share with you about the gospel! I am here learning this language to speak with all of you...with the whole world that TODAY we have a LIVING prophet! 

I proceeded to say a few more things as well as my companion...and then many people asked us questions. It was great because we got tons of addresses of people that we are going to visit! 

Other than this...I learned how to make a pretty fantastic smoothie. 

The work here is great. We have plenty of people to teach. My companion shares a lot in common...one of these things being our desire to serve with the Power of God!

people also go nuts here over soccer. Santa Cruz...a team here in Recife...got moved up a league in soccer and people were getting drunk or running around or honking their horns....There were also fireworks...WHERE DID THE FIREWORKS COME FROM!?!?

Yes..I have a lot of stories I can't include in here for the sake of boring all of you plus my fingers would die if I tried to type them all BUT just know that all is well here

I love Yall!! Happy Holidays!

Elder Flake

11.16.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

So although I have only emailed once so far since I have been here which makes it very hard to express the thousands of things that have happenned in almost 3.5 weeks of my Brazil Missionary Experience!

Anyways, Elder Chelemberg and I have seen a few people change their lives and enter the baptismal font...which has been beautiful! 

The language is insanely difficult. The scriptures speak about the gift of tongues....and sometimes people get a little confused about this one....They think that it involves talking to God by babbling nonesense and stuff. The gift of tongues is a spiritual gift that Heavenly Father has given us to learn how to speak to the hearts of his children. We ate lunch with a family and I had aboslutely no clue what anybody was saying and it frazzled me even more when people continued to talk to me as if I knew their language!! It was incredibly painful.....yes painful! My head was literally fried to pieces on the inside! So...That night I prayed with more power to be able to learn this language....and believe it or not...the next day I understood ten times more. It was literally a night and day difference. Of course, I am in no way fluent, but I can understand over half the things people say to me which is amazing considering I have only been down here for a couple weeks! Heavenly Father really is amazing and this was a testimony to me that I am definitely carrying a message with me God wants people to know about! 

Anyways, Brazil is beautiful and the people I have encountered are crazy but way fun! I am right next to the ocean, and it is gorgeous. I have mentioned how hot it is down here, but when sun goes down....the wind from the ocean feels so incredible! I love it here! I am still getting eaten alive..but it isn't so bad now!

I am feel so separated from the world...especially because of the language...but it is getting better! It is such a crazy experience!

I love yall!

Elder Flake

ps the buses down here are insane. They seat like 30 people yet we stuff like 96 and it drives like the night bus in harry potter. People are literally flying around the bus...it is hilarious yet extremely dangerous and scary

11.9.15 - Jardim Atlantico, Brazil

So I am back from the dead...just kidding...but yeah this has been the most eventful few weeks of my life. I apologize for not writing back for so long..But I wanted to announce...


I am so glad and grateful to be able to write again hahaha! Many events prevented me from getting an adequate chance to be able to. Also, I am sorry if I misspell anything because everything I type shows up in red because it isn't in Portuguese haha.

So as far as events leading up until now...

I left Arizona a couple weeks ago. It was actually really sad because the people I was teaching were amazing and progressing along in their puruit to Christ. But yes, I stayed the night at the house of my mission president and his wife, and then they took me to the airport...where I would eventually take a 26 hour trip to Recife Brazil. 

The flight was great considering I was asleep but my hiney was very sore to say the least. They flew me to Sao Paulo first and then I took a tiny plane to Recife where me, and a bunch of other missionaries met our mission president. President Bigelow....who is a fantastic person. His apartment was also gorgeous. But I got my new companion and my first area to cover.Elder Chemberg is 100% Brazillian and 100% Portuguese as well.....which is very very  interesting hahaha! He is great though!

Our apartment is also awesome...aside from the bugs and the fact that no toilet down here accepts toilet paper...but seriously it's great. There are four doors to get to the outside...which is probably a fire hazard considering you need keys to unlock each one from both sides...but hey, at least nobody is stealing my stuff that is worth a lot down here. 

Speaking of which...the food is very inexpensive...4 Rais to 1 Dollar. In our area, Jardim Atlantico, we get fed two meals every day by members of the Church as well as those that we are teaching! The biggest meal of the day here is Almoço which is lunch. Jantar is also eaten very late at night. It is great though. The food is delicious. The suco (juice) is completely natural...there are like hundreds of fruits that I have never heard of that are just so tasty. They are thick and kind of creamy.....so although I had to give up peanut butter...the juice is not too bad of a trade! You can get like a kilogram of fruit here for like 2 rais which is 50 cents in American money. It is great! They feed us lots of deserts that are strange but way good. 

Anyways...as far as the missionary work goes, we have had two baptisms since I got here. We have been teaching a good amount of people. It is funny because the first couple of days, I literally couldn't understand the people or elder Chelemberg. The accent here in Recife is like the redneck south of Tennessee. They sound like they are singing...and it is really hard to keep track of the words they are using.....not mention that if I could hear the words they were saying...I still wouldn't know, because they have a lot of slang and many words I don't know.  Elder Chelmberg is great though. I can understand most of what he says to me, and I for sure ask so many questions. I am never afraid to talk. I am actually speaking in Church next week. But what is really nice is when he asks me to share my testimony about specific things. With my terribly language skills, I share what Heavenly Father wants me to share. It is funny because I mess up a lot and then blush...but down here a blush is more like an explosion of more sweat that is pouring down my face...

Which brings me to talk about the climate. Muito Muito quente people. Very hot! But it is great. I already have a watch tan like you wouldn't believe. My collar is black and brown with dirt...It looks like bacon. There is a lot of places where the sewage is in the streets in little motes. Every night, I sleep with just a sheet and a fan blowing on me. There are a lot of murisocas which are not mosquitoes.....I don't know the translation actually...but for real...they are like super bugs. I spray repellent all over myself yet I still wake up completely covered in bites. I find 15-20 new ones a day....hahaha and to add to that...the creams that I have don't work. I still stay itchy....but don't worry....I think I am already used to it haha! But bugs are a huge issue. We left a pizza out for like 30 minutes and it was covered with a trillion ants!!! There are also many many stray animals...even horses hahaha. dogs, cats, coyote looking things, horses, very large lizards...But yeah its great! There are favellas which I think mean ghettoes. These places have like brick and cement and dirt holding their house together. But the fantastic thing is, this place is so happy!

Another thing...they love Americans. They like blonde hair and blue eyes...and sometimes it gets a little crazy. People shout "You are very cute" In portuguese....it is wierd. Like I have a lot more stories about this.

But yes...I am alive, and am actually doing fantastic. I am growing and learning incredibly fast because of the Hand of the Lord. Even in my bad Portuguese, I am still having great opportunities to proclaim this gospel. This is probably the hardest thing I have ever done...and not because of the climate....but I know that I am protected by God and He is helping me learn the language. It is really hard when everyone speaks around you and you can';t understand. I couldn't describe it! 

 I love yall!! God promises us many blessings as we do His Work!!

Elder Flake