Missionary buddies

Missionary buddies

Monday, December 30, 2013

Transferred from Brazil!

Hello everyone!
I hope everyone had a good Christmas, I know I sure did! The members here were too kind to us! And talking with the family was great. It sure made my Christmas great! An hour seemed to fly by, and I feel like there was so much more I wanted to talk about with you all and ask you, but I was glad for the time we had.
Well I'll start with the biggest news. The dreaded transfer call came last night, and I am officially leaving Brazil. :'( It's crazy how fast time flies. It feels like just yesterday Elder Easter and I were driving into town saying, "Where in the world are we???" and then 4 1/2 months later after lots of adventures with Elder Easter and Elder Wallace, I'm leaving. The hardest thing to leave is all of the people I've grown to love. I will miss the members so much, but I hope I can always stay in touch with them. With so few active members in our area, it made us grow really close to them. I'll also miss a lot of the people we've been teaching. I'm leaving at such a huge time in the area. Brenda is getting married on Saturday, and we'll have at least 2 baptisms this month here hopefully. I just hope I don't get transferred up to Michigan or something so I can still come back for the baptisms. I'll also miss Elder Wallace. The last 3 months flew, but we have become really good friends.
In my next area, President has called me to be a District Leader, so just a little bit more responsibility. I feel like every transfer gets a little more challenging, but I'm okay with it. It kind of weirds me out how much I've grown and changed even in the last 6 months. I'm sure in my next area there will be many more adventures though, and I look forward to it.
This week was an exciting one. Obviously Christmas was this week, and that was a blast like I said. Thanks so much to everyone for the packages and cards. They meant a lot. Sorry I couldn't send anything back, I wish I could have! But Christmas crept up on me fast, and I don't have a lot of time..........or money. Anyway, thanks again. I am very grateful for all of the support I receive.
Yesterday, was a good Sunday to go out on. We had 5 investigators at church! Woooooohoooo! My whole first transfer with Elder Easter, we were always struggling just to get one. It's been really fun to watch the area grow and progress. Yesterday, Brenda came with her fiance, Gary. Brenda's daughter came and two grandchildren; Lizzie who's 16 and Frank Jr. who's 7. On top of that, Dave Aukerman was at church. He's the husband of one of the members in the ward, and two of his step-sons are on missions. One of his step-sons was skyping him lessons, but his step-son now handed him off to us. All of our investigators had a good experience at church; it was a pretty spiritual church meeting. Last night, we went to the Aukermans' for dinner. Afterwards we watched Finding Faith in Christ with them and had a pretty good lesson. We were a little bold with Dave, especially because it was very possibly one of my last lessons with him. We asked him about baptism and he said that he's praying about a date. He's a really religious guy, he just has a concern with why he needs to be baptized again with the proper authority. I've really come to love that family as well, they are so good to us! He said he'd get in touch with me somehow when he finally makes the decision to be baptized. That made me excited.
Well, it's been a good run here in Brazil, Indiana. I hope I don't lose touch with a lot of these people. I hope to visit here again someday. But, I also look forward to the things to come. I'll let you know next where I get transferred and my address.
Thanks for everything, and I love all of you! Happy New Year!!!!!
-Elder Tom Hill

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from Brazil!

Hello everyone! I added some more people who I thought my like to hear from me to my weekly emails, so if any of you get sick of these showing up in your inbox each week, just let me know.

First of all, Merry Christmas! Second of all, I just want to say it is seriously a miracle that I'm even able to email right now. The Brazil library's computers are terrible and we were worried we'd have to take an hour out of our day to drive to the Haute and back (because of Christmas, our P-day is only 3 hours, so that would've cut into proselyting time.) I know that Heavenly Father really does answer prayers of faith, not only in things spiritual, but temporal as well.
Just in case the computers act up, I need to get the most important thing squared away. This is to my parents: I will be able to skype on Wednesday, so let's plan on about 10 am your time? Let me know if that doesn't work. What I'll probably end up doing is give you a call really fast right before I skype so you know when it will happen. Just try to keep your morning open. It might be earlier or later than that a little, but we'll plan on that. If anyone's on right now, let me know really fast if another time works better.
Well now I guess I'll talk about this week. It's been a great week! The time flew by, it's crazy how fast the days go by now. I don't like it. We had some good lessons with Brenda, Barbara and Ashley. They want us to come every day! Every time we go there, Brenda ends up giving us something because she's so nice and trying to clean out her trailer. Here's what she's given us while we've been here: 5 bibles, 4 pictures, 7 pounds of Jolly Ranchers, two candles, 6 books, 2 dinners that were packed with food, and I'm probably missing some things. Haha it's almost a joke how much she gives us. Elder Wallace and Elder Smith, our zone leader (they were on exchanges) reviewed the baptismal interview questions with her, and she knew just about anything. They got a pretty enthusiastic no to question number 5, for anyone who knows what the 5th question is. It fact, she said HECK NO! Actually she didn't even say that.... haha she's a character. We also had a lesson with Barbara where she told us that we have helped her change a ton. We didn't even realize how much she has changed. She used to party a bunch and even do some drugs. She said right before she met us she had thought about going back into doing those things, but she had been praying that God would help her not go back into her old ways, and then she met us through her mom. She kept telling us how grateful she was for us, and that she decided to listen to us. She said she's talked to missionaries before and slammed the door in their faces before. But now she's finally opened up. It just shows you that you have to never give up on people, you never know when their hearts will be softened. Barbara and Brenda came to church yesterday and had a good experience. We had a good Christmas program that we sang in (our ward choir is the funnest to sing in. We have Brother Garber as our choir director, and that always makes it entertaining.) And then Elder Wallace and I taught a Christmas lesson in Gospel Principles that turned out pretty spiritual.
We had another investigator come to church yesterday, named Michael. I'm not sure if I've talked about him before. We met him while walking a few weeks ago. He was in prison about a year ago, but he's working at piecing his life back together. He has a really good heart. He doesn't have hardly anything. He lives in a tiny house without any furniture. He doesn't have very much clothing either. Luckily some of our members were getting rid of some old clothes and we could give those two him. But he's working REALLY hard to get his life pieced back together. He had a great time yesterday as well and the members were really good to him. He gave some great insights in Gospel Principles which is what made the lesson so spiritual. He said when he first met us on the street he was startled when we asked if he had a minute to talk, but when we started to talking about the gospel it was like a "breath of fresh air". He loved church and we're meeting with him again today.
Well, there's so much more I wanted to talk about, but these computers are from the stone age.... Luckily I won't be skyping on them, we'll do that at the Paullus' home. Just so I can get at least a little bit sent off, I'll send this one and maybe try to send a little more afterwards. But if I don't, I'll probably tell you more when I skype you. This has been a great week. I hope I can send more in another email.
I hope everyone has a merry Christmas and I love all of you!!!!!
-Elder Hill


Hello again everyone! I have a few more minutes, and the computers are doing a little bit better. Here's a forwarded picture from Colton Twitchell, AKA Elder Twitchell who I saw at a mission conference on Thursday. Haha I look goofy in it. But anyway, it was a good conference with the whole mission, it was just super long.
Two more things I wanted to talk about in my email. On Saturday, we helped one of our recent converts with a project he's working on. He's trying to fix an old house that should've been torn down. It's a nightmare..... It goes against everything Rob taught me last year. But I'm glad I could use some of the things I learned last year to help someone out. The moral of the story: Don't buy a condemned house, especially without going to look at it.

Sunday night was a huge night in the mission, specifically in Terre Haute. Bishop Newton's mom got baptized! Missionaries have been teaching her for 37 years and she finally decided to make the jump! I guess she needed sister missionaries in Terre Haute to teach her, because that's what made the change! It was huge, there were hundreds of people at the baptism. President Cleveland even came. Anyway, it was quite the experience.
Talk to you later, and I love you all tons!!!!
-Elder Hill

Last week's email

Hello everyone!

What an excellent week! So much has happened, I don't even know where to begin! We've seen miracles this week and I know that the Lord's hand is in this work.
On Monday evening, we had a lesson with Brenda. We were a little bit bold with her, and told her that if she didn't get married to Gary (her boyfriend) or separated, and if she didn't stop smoking that she couldn't be baptized. The Spirit was really strong during our lesson and we could tell that she was really pondering hard about what we had taught her. After her lesson, we went to Brother Allen's house to talk about some things. Before we left the Allens' house, Elder Wallace said a prayer. Right in the middle of his prayer, the Allens' phone started ringing. Elder Wallace kind of cut the prayer a little short so they could answer it. Brother Allen answered the phone and said, "What? You're getting married!? I'm sitting right here with them, you can tell them if you want." It was Brenda. After our lesson she decided that she was committed to be baptized, so after living with her boyfriend for 7 years she was going to finally make it official and get married. We were pumped!! It was one of the craziest things that has happened to me on my mission; it was just like on the Best Two Years. Little did I know one of the job titles of a missionary was wedding planner.
The next morning, she called us during our studies and said, "I threw away my cigarettes last night, and I can tell you right now I'm not going to buy another pack. I can do anything I put my mind to." We couldn't believe it! Two miraculous calls within 12 hours of each other. But of course the adversary wasn't going to just give up. Right after she made her decision to get married and baptized, her family started giving her some major opposition. Elder Easter and I used to call the road she lives on "Jerry Springer Road" and a lot of that is because of some members of her family. We dropped by on Tuesday during the day, and her granddaughter freaked out. She's 18, living with Brenda (or at least she used to), and going through a divorce. Yeah, 18 and going through a divorce! Did I mention how being on a mission has made me so much more grateful for all of the blessings in my life? Anyway, when we dropped by, we mentioned her wedding plans. And her granddaughter said, "What!? You're getting married because they told you to!? I can't believe this!" Brenda said, "They didn't tell me I have to do anything, this is my choice." Autumn said, "Yeah, right. I heard them last night that you can't get baptized if you're not married! I don't believe in your religion!" and she stomped out. We told Brenda that it was completely her choice, but that we knew being baptized into the church would greatly bless her life. When we were driving home from Terre Haute around 8 o'clock that night, she called us again. She was crying on the phone and told Elder Wallace that she didn't think any of her family was going to go to her wedding. Her granddaughter had thrown another tantrum, yelled and screamed, and spilled a pot of boiling potato soup on her sister's leg. Brenda told her to get out of her house, and Autumn stormed out. Not only that, but her son started to give her a hard time as well about her getting married. It broke our hearts! We hurried over there and said a prayer with her. She said that she wasn't going to let it get her down and we told her to stay strong and keep doing what she's doing. She has such amazing faith, it's incredible. 

On Wednesday, we had a lesson with her daughter and granddaughter (her good family members) and it turns out they both want to be baptized as well! They are now scheduled to be baptized on the 25th of January, and Brenda's scheduled for the 11th. They're names are Barbara (Brenda's daughter) and Ashley (Barbara's daughter). So, we're going to have three generations baptized! We're so excited. I'm just scared that at the end of the year I will be leaving since I've been here a little while. It makes me sad because there's some really exciting things happening here the next few months.
On Friday, I had an exchange with Elder Howell, one of the elders in Linton. I learned a lot on the exchange, and we had some adventures in Linton. Linton's a small town in the middle of nowhere. (worst than Brazil, surprising I know.) The famous thing about Linton is a sign that says, "You'll like Linton". I like Linton, but I'm not sure it'd be my first choice of places to live... haha.
On Saturday it snowed a little bit more, so Elder Wallace and I turned into snow shoveling ninja's and shoveled a bunch of people's driveways. Because of that we were able to get in contact with a few of our investigators, Ken and Mona, and Sue. So that was good! Plus it was good to get a good little exercise snow shoveling crazy fast.
Speaking of exercise.... I'm not getting much. Haha I've gained 10-15 pounds. A combination of Hoosier cooking and hardly ever getting a good workout is starting to take it's toll on me. Elder Wallace and I did the math, and at this rate I'll come home at about 205! :) Haha don't worry I won't let that happen... I hope.

To end this week out, we had a great day at church yesterday. Brenda and Barbara came to church and had a great time. Ashley wasn't able to make it to church, because she's the one who got the burns on her leg from the boiling potato soup and her leg wasn't feeling too good, but hopefully she can make it next week. We had some good Christmas talks and a good lesson in gospel principles. It was probably one of the best church services for investigators yet.
We've got our Christmas plans figured it out, and the members have been fighting over where we will go on Christmas. We get so much support from the members. I also get a lot of support back home. Thanks so much for all of the cards. Please let the ward know thanks for the support also. I've gotten a few cards from members in the ward. Thanks so much for the support, I couldn't do it without you!!
Have a great week! I hope all of you try to find ways to share your testimony during this season where the Spirit is so strong. Look for opportunities to serve your brothers and sisters, because that's what the Christmas season is all about.
I love all of you!
-Elder Tom Hill

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy December from Indiana

Hello everyone!

It's crazy to think that it's December and I am starting my 6th month as a missionary! This week has been a good one and I have a lot to talk about, so it might be another long one today!
On Tuesday, we had a great night! We visited with an old lady named Sue. She is really nice. She's 82, but I would have never guessed that! She looks like she's in her 60's. Anyway, she talked our leg off, fed us pumpkin pie, and then we shared a little bit about the restoration. She seems interested and her cousin's son lives in Utah and is in the bishopric of a ward, so she knows some things about the church. She offered us coffee and iced tea, and the member that was with us, Brother Garber, thought that was hilarious.
After her, we went next door to a less-active guy that we met at the Garber's yard sale months ago. His name is Ken and he was baptized in another ward in Indiana in the late 80's, but hasn't gone to church since he's been in Brazil. His wife Mona isn't a member and she showed some huge interest in the church! We were just chatting with them, and then she said, "Well tell us about your church!" before we could even say anything. He still has a solid testimony and they said they wanted to come out to church. That was an awesome lesson!
Thursday was a really good thanksgiving. We ate dinner at the Griffins who are a family in Terre Haute. We ate some great food and then headed to one of the middle schools and played football for about 2 1/2 hours. In fact one of their relatives took some videos and put them online at http://xancraven.smugmug.com/Family/Griffin-2013 if you want to check it out. Or you can just watch ESPN sometime this month and I'm sure they'll be showing some of the replays....
Speaking of websites, our mission has a facebook page! I've never seen it though, because we still aren't aloud on facebook.... but you can go ahead and check it out! I believe it's on facebook.com/indymission . Elder Rogers (my mission grandpa and one of the assistants, he's home now) told me that we had our 4 generation posterity picture on there and that I was in some other pictures, so you'll have to check it out!
Friday was another good day. In the evening, Brazil had a Christmas parade. Just about everyone in Clay County showed up to that, so Elder Wallace and I went and tried to talk to some of the people there. Everyone was busy watching the parade so we didn't have much luck there. About 20 minutes into the parade, Brenda called us. We were so excited because we weren't able to get in contact with her for a week! We hurried over there with a member, Brother Allen, to visit her. It turns out she had a tooth pulled and got a dry socket, so she hadn't been feeling very good. That was  a relief to us, because we were afraid she was ignoring us. (She wouldn't answer the door when her car was home, and she almost always answers when her car is home.) It seemed like kind of a blessing in disguise for that to happen to her, as awful as that sounds, because the dentist told her that she couldn't smoke with the dry socket or it would make it a lot worse. She's been doing really well with the smoking. Her daughter, Barbara, was there as well and she showed a lot of interest in the church. We told her about the Book of Mormon, and since Friday she's already read to 1 Nephi 1.
Saturday was another good day where we met with some less-active families and Brenda again. We only have a few more things we need to teach her, but they're pretty crucial lessons for her to live the standards set for baptism. I'd definitely appreciate it if you kept us and Brenda in  your prayers; we could use all of the help we could get!
I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for. First of all, I'm on a mission! This has been my dream for so long! If I ever get a negative attitude I think, "Holy cow! I'm on a mission! I've been waiting for this my whole life!" I'm really grateful for all of you, my family and friends. These last 5 months I've realized how much I took everything for granted. I don't know how I got so lucky to have so many people around me  who support me so much. And one of the greatest blessings I have is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a gospel of hope and I have that oppurtunity to share this peace and hope with those who need it so badly! I hope everyone has a great week, and I love all of you! Thanks for the support! :)
Elder Tom Hill
P.S. I'll send some pictures in a minute if I have time.