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Curtis' Mission

Sunday, January 28, 2007

O Fim da Missao

After two years spent in Brazil, Curtis has returned home from his LDS mission. I received a letter from his mission president a few days prior to his return. I would like to quote a small part of the letter.

"Our hearts are filled with joy as we imagine that wonderful picture in our minds, of a missionary returning home with honor after a period of full dedication to missionary work. We know that our Father in Heaven is pleased with him. Your son has just completed a great and challenging part of his life; he overcame great challenges and exceeded his own limitations. You will see how much he has progressed in the last two years."

I have indeed seen the change in Curtis. He has grown spiritually as well as intellectually and emotionally. He is now at a point in his life where anything is possible. I don't know what the future might hold for him but I am confident that he now has the ability to achieve anything he wants to. I am very proud of him.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Coming Home

Curtis leaves Sao Paulo, Brazil late Wednesday evening, stops in Dallas, and arrives in Salt Lake City on Thursday, January 25 at 11 am. He is on American Airlines flight 689 from Dallas. We will welcome him home outside of the security gates in terminal 1. Come and join us if you can. Arrive early.

He will be speaking in church on January 28 at 10:45 am. The church is located at 5161 E 1300 S in South Ogden. We will have a luncheon for him after church at our house.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Leaving My Mark On Brazil

This is a copy of Curtis' last email that he sent from Brazil. He has grown so much since entering the mission field. He should be very proud of his accomplishments. I know that I am very proud of him.

"...gonna free fall out into nothing, gonna leave this world for awhile..."

Hey Everyone,

Yesterday we had interviews in my zone of Ipiranga. Of course I was last to be interviewed in our Zone. President Wilkins said something pretty interesting to me. He said, "There are some missionaries who run through the forest of missionary work with moccasins on, not leaving a single mark anywhere. Sure they get through and done and with honor, but sadly no marks are left. Then there are others, sure they may have moccasins, but they also have machetes and everywhere they go they leave their mark, on members, investigators, other missionaries, entire zones and sometimes the whole mission. And people don't forget them. Elder Tonks, you are one of these missionaries." He then explained why and it made me feel so good. I am not trying to brag or anything, it was really awesome what he said.

More and more as people say stuff like that to me I really feel like it is time to come home and start up with my other pursuits in life. I am sad to leave Brasil, but at the same time I am happy. I am happy that I did what I wanted to, that is, coming down here and serving a mission and not looking back no matter what happened. I had tests and trials, and made some of the best friends I will ever have among Brazilian and Americans alike.

I learned a lot about the Savior and the importance of living what you believe and how that is the only way that a person can be truly happy. I have learned to love and learned to learn and teach, some qualities that I hope are with me for the rest of my life. I have made it a pursuit to follow the spirit and know that when I do that I can make it over the tallest mountains and over the deepest seas. I have a new language under my belt and hundreds upon hundreds of the craziest and most spiritual stories that a man could put together in two years.

I look forward to the future with trembling and a little bit of fear, but more with great hope and faith in what will happen. I just have to do what is right, pray like crazy and follow through with my plans and goals. I know what I want in life, and I know how to get it, and hopefully I will apply the principles I have learned (sometimes the hard way) down here in Brasil.

I am grateful for all of my companions. I never thought I could survive 24/7 with the same person, but here I am, a living example. Elder Hirschi, Elder Walker, Elder Carvalho and Elder Dias all taught me patience in very specific and sometimes painful ways. Elder Pieper, Elder Stoddard and Elder Staley taught me the importance of loving those whom I teach. Elder Martins and Elder Silveira taught me how to have fun and still work hard, and with those two, how to work smart. Elder Costa taught me how to be humble and prayerful and to let the Lord guide us in all we do. Elder Hicks and Elder Jones taught me how to listen and be concerned with those around me and to think nothing but how to help them and love them and show them the way to salvation.

I have been in six areas in the Sao Paulo East Mission, not including the two months of crazy training before I got out here to the field. I am going to miss walking hundreds of flights of stairs in the MTC, riding the big comfortable air conditioned bus out to Cruzeiro, the walk through the circular park to Bom Clima, the climb up the hills to Taubate, the graffiti ridden walls on the way to the mission office in Belem, the sweaty train rides to Jardim Camargo Novo, and the underground Metro rides to the urban jungles of Vila Mariana.

I feel like I am writing either my autobiography or my eulogy right now, but I know that the future holds many challenges and much happiness for me.

Coming home is going to be awesome, there is so much I want to do but on the other hand so much I am going to miss and long for down here in Sao Paulo. Being a missionary, wearing the nametag, teaching really spiritual lessons, talking to at least one insanely crazy person everyday, zone conferences, seeing people accept the gospel and change every aspect of their lives because you taught them a few simple discussions, putting into practice the advice received from President Urry and seeing the blessings, and then hearing a little more advice, which is always needed, from President Wilkins and putting it into practice as well. And the blessings continue as they were always promised to.

I am grateful for my testimony which has exploded during my time here as a representative of the Church and the Lord. I realize how weak and little I was spiritually before I came on the mission, and how the mission looked me straight in the eye and told me, "Now its time to grow up, to shape up, and to stand up for what you believe and make sure that other people know it." I don't know where I'd be today if I wasn't a member of the church or if I didn't have a family who supported me and friends who showed me the way. I can never truly thank people for that.

I have realized that you can't get through life unscathed without the cuts and bruises that life always throws at me, but with the right attitude we only get stronger, better and if we play our cards right, closer to the Lord. I know that this is the Lord's Church. I know that we have the one thing that can bring happiness to any person in this life and especially in the life to come. I am grateful for the programs of the church, especially missionary work which has helped me to grow up, spiritually and mentally.

I know that families can be together forever. It is really strange that the Lord would give us families in the first place if He would just take them away when life ends. That doesn't make any sense and that's why it's not true. Families are forever. I know that today we have prophets and apostles, that President Hinckley is the Lord's mouthpiece on the earth today. Some of my best mission memories were watching General Conference and "sticking with the Bretheren" as an Apostle of old has said. When we follow them, we are blessed, simply, and when we don't, we suffer the consequences of our actions. Thank goodness for our free agency and I know when we give it to the Lord, he gives us everything he has.

Most of all, I know that Jesus is the Christ, that he gave his life for us that we might live again in the Celestial Kingdom of our Father. We can never really comprehend even a little bit of the pain and the agony suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, but as we go through our lives filled with trouble and letdown, we grow up unto the Lord and understand why he did it for us and what our new found potential is. The price was paid and the demands were met on all levels, and all we need to do now is keep the commandments and make covenants and stay true to them and we will get the blessings that were always intended for us even before the foundation of the world when we first spoke up and said we would gladly follow Jesus Christ and the great plan of redemption.

I am glad I served a mission and I love those whom I have served and have helped me every step of the way. I look forward to the future and I hope that life goes on being the blessing that it has for me these last two years. I love you all for the support you have given me. I hope that you can all help me come back into the fold easily and comfortably. Well, next time you hear from me you'll be talking face to face with me. Thanks again, and I will see you all on the other side. Much love, for the last time, from Sao Paulo, Brasil...

Your Favorite Missionary Ever, Elder Curtis S. Tonks

Sunday, January 21, 2007

How To Be A Good Returned Missionary?

"If you could find a good article along the lines of "How to be a good Returned Missionary?" would you send it to me? I'm sure there are books printed but I need merely an article. Just the basics, I'm not a returned missionary yet!"

The Returned Missionary

Elder L. Tom Perry
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

This afternoon, I want to address my remarks to a special group. During the last many years, hundreds of thousands of you have returned from serving full-time missions. Each of you heeded the same call the Savior gave to His disciples:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:19–20).

It was your privilege to go to the many parts of the world to carry the Savior's message—an invitation to come unto Him and enjoy the fruits of His gospel. You were privileged to live in different cultures and learn different languages. It was also a time of building your own personal testimony of the mission of Jesus Christ.

I have always been honored to visit with you returned missionaries over the years—many of you long to return and visit the people you had the privilege of serving. You are anxious to share moments of your experiences in the mission field. In your wedding announcements and your employment résumés, you insert a line that identifies you as a returned missionary. While you no longer wear a missionary's badge, you seem anxious to identify yourselves as one who has served the Lord as a missionary. Moreover, you have fond memories because you discovered the joy of gospel service.

I have also learned from many conversations with you that the adjustment associated with leaving the mission field and returning to the world you left behind is sometimes difficult. Perhaps it is hard to keep alive the spirit of missionary work when you are no longer serving as a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

May I offer just a few suggestions?

  • Read the October 2001 General Conference talk
  • Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Packing Suitcases

    "But yeah, luggin' the suitcases made me think of how hard it is going to be to get all my stuff to the USA. Elder Harris, from my group, and I were talking yesterday about going to the huge hotel house in the mission, where I lived with the triple bunk bed, and we are going to lay all of our stuff out all over one of the back rooms, his stuff on one half of the room and my stuff on the other half of the room, with our open suitcases in the middle, then we are going to sit back to back and do that chin stroking pondering pose and try to logically understand how we are going to get 500 lbs of stuff into a 250 lb suitcase, or soemthing of that nature. Can't you just picture that in your head. That is what is going to be like."

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Institute Of Religion

    "One more thing, I want to take Institue Classes when I get home, but I need someone to sign me up for them. If you can do it online at the WSU Institute that would be great. Ask Detrick what classes he is going to take and have him sign me up for the exact same ones. That would be the best, I would have someone I know in my classes. Could you please do that for me? Call D, he will help you out. Do it soon, who knows when the deadline is..."

    Institutes of religion provide weekday religious instruction for single and married college students. Young single adults of the appropriate age (generally 18–30) are also welcome to attend. Institute of religion programs are established under the direction of priesthood leaders and CES when there are sufficient numbers of LDS college students.

    In addition to religious instruction, institutes provide students with opportunities to grow spiritually through service, social interaction, and leadership training. Institutes also assist parents and priesthood leaders in encouraging youth to serve missions and marry in the temple.

    A variety of classes are available in Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, LDS history, family history, courtship and marriage, doctrines of the gospel, provident living, missionary preparation, and teachings of the living prophets.

    In areas with large numbers of Latter-day Saint students, institute classes are held in Church-owned institute buildings near colleges or universities. In other areas, classes may meet in meetinghouses, in rented space, or in homes. There is no fee for institute enrollment. With appropriate approval, priesthood leaders and CES representatives may also organize institute classes in local Church units. Priesthood leaders should direct requests or questions to their CES representative.

  • Especially for Institute Students
  • Saturday, January 13, 2007

    My Redeemer Lives

    "I love the words to the hymn President Hinckley wrote called My Redeemer Lives."

    I know that my Redeemer lives,
    Triumphant Savior, Son of God,
    Victorious over pain and death,
    My King, my Leader, and my Lord.

    He lives, my one sure rock of faith,
    The one bright hope of men on earth,
    The beacon to a better way,
    The light beyond the veil of death.

    Oh, give me thy sweet Spirit still,
    The peace that comes alone from thee,
    The faith to walk the lonely road
    That leads to thine eternity.

    (Gordon B. Hinckley, “My Redeemer Lives,” Hymns, no. 135)

  • My Redeemer Lives
  • Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Feelin' Trunky

    "Well, I wouldn't be so trunky if everyone didn't say to me every five minutes, oh Elder Tonks, don't you go home in like 17 days and then I have to correct them and say, no that's 15 days, nice try. I really feel like I am taking crazy pills with all the reminders that missionaries, members, President Wilkins, and others are throwin' out...."


    Homesick. Refers to the act of sitting on one's packed trunk, eagerly looking forward to the day when one's mission will end.


    In mission parlance, to be released from one's mission and return home; e.g., "I hope I die here in Babylonville, Elder. I'd hate to have to adjust to a whole new area before going home."

    Derived by analogy with the process in LDS theology whereby spirits leave their premortal existence, are born physically and die on earth, then return to the spirit realm to await resurrection and judgment.

  • Mormonspeak - A humorous definition of Mormon words and slang
  • Monday, January 08, 2007

    Bilhete Único

    "Hey, you can look up something interesting and put a post about what's called the Bilhete Unico here in Sao Paulo. We use it daily but it's really hard to explain. Its a bus pass kind of thing that gets us free rides within two hours of the first use."

    The Bilhete Único is a contactless smart card that can be used for paying the fares in buses and in Metro and CPTM trains. In essence, a single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in São Paulo's public transportation system (but not four trips on trains; see below for details). You can get the card at no cost; charge them with the minimum amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops (known as "loterias"), supermarkets and other establishments - look for the red round "Bilhete Único" logo. You can use the card to pay for your trips in the public transportation system as follows:

    On buses: upon boarding a bus, you'll be charged R$ 2,00 and can board up to three other buses in a two-hour period without being charged a second time.
    On the Metro or CPTM trains: for a single trip in the underground train system, you'll be charged R$ 2,10.

    First Metro/CPTM train then bus: you'll be charged R$ 2,10 when passing by a Metro or CPTM station's turnstile. Once you board a bus, you'll be charged an extra R$ 0,90 and will be able to board two other buses in a two-hour period - starting from the first validation at the train station - without any further payment.

    First bus then Metro/CPTM train: once you board a bus, R$ 2,00 is charged from your card. Upon entering the Metro or CPTM systems, you'll be charged a further R$ 1,00. It's possible, after leaving the Metro or CPTM system, to board up to two other buses without any further payment in the two-hour period that starts from the first validation, depending on whether you boarded one or two buses before entering a train.

    (click image to enlarge)

    Curtis lives between the Vergueiro and
    Sao Joaquim metro stations on Line 1 - Azul

  • Sao Paulo Metro
  • Friday, January 05, 2007

    Working The Ipiranga Zone

    "Right now I am with a good friend of mine, Elder Barney, who is in my zone. We are just getting finished with a split, we call it division down here, and we are going to meet our companions and go have some P-day fun. Elder Barney works in Vila Prudente, and having worked there with him, I have officially worked in all the areas in this zone from the time of being a secretary to now, as a zone leader. The areas are: Belem, Mooca, Sao Joao Climaco, Monumento, and the three vilas, Vila Industrial, Vila Prudente and my current home, Vila Mariana. I am probably the first one to ever do that. Not to brag, but I sure am cool."

    Vila Mariana is a borough of the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Placed in the south of Sé, east of Pinheiros and west of Ipiranga, it's a dynamic area of the city. It comprises the districts of Vila Mariana, Moema and Saúde. Like Pinheiros, it's a wealthy area and it comprises some of the most famous symbols of São Paulo, like the Ibirapuera Park, the Obelisk and Mausoleum of the heroes from the Constitutional Revolution in 1932 and the "Monumento às Bandeiras". This bourough also has in its limits the headquarters of the Federal University of São Paulo and its medicine school. This borough is also the place where Athina Onassis lived, when she married the Brazilian rider Álvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto (the "Doda").

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    The Book Of Genesis

    "I finally got done with my study of the Book of Genesis. I cannot even start to tell you all of the cool stuff that I learned. The Fall in Chapter 3 was probably the biggest learning experience of them all. I knew most of the stuff but thanks to Joseph Fielding Smith and my Old Testament study manual I learned at least 5 times as much as I used to know. I love the story of Joseph of Egypt as well, talk about someone who was always protected by Lord. When I get home, you can all come over and I will teach you the beginning of the Bible like it has never been taught before."

    Book of Genesis - In the Beginning...

    The Book of Genesis is the "Book of Beginnings" in the Bible. Genesis, Greek for "Origins", recounts the Creation of all things in six literal 24-hour days, the Fall of Mankind and the Curse, the subsequent Worldwide Marine Cataclysm (Noah's Flood), the Dispersion at Babel, and finally the birth of the Jewish Nation. Together, these events cover roughly 2,370 years of Earth's history. The Book of Genesis is divided into two principal sections: (i) Chapters 1-11 covers the Creation to the Dispersion and (ii) Chapters 12-50 covers the birth of Israel, from the calling of Abram (Abraham) until the death and burial of his great grandson Joseph in Egypt.

    Sunday, December 31, 2006

    New Years Eve

    "On New Year's Eve, Elder Staley and I sat around and we were listening to this tape of George Winston playing Christmas songs on piano and I don't know if anyone has ever heard the Kanon, but that is the prettiest song I have ever heard. It made our New Year's celebration better. The night was pretty rainy, but rain could never stop the firework-crazy people of Sao Paulo. The funny thing is that the fireworks down here aren't really sparks and pretty colors and lights and that kind of stuff, they are more like bombs. Just one loud explosion and a bunch of people cheering. I made a video on my camera from our 16th story window of all the "bombs" going off over SP. It is pretty cool. Elder Staley and I played Nerf basketball, listened to the Kanon at least 10 times, ate Mac and Cheese and brownies and just kind of passed the New Year staring out the window at the madness of SP New Year's celebrations. It was great. I also made "Elder Tonks' 7 Goals for 2007." They are pretty dope."

    George Winston - December

    December holds the distinction of single-handedly putting Windham Hill on the map and being the new age album most likely to find its way into music collections. In spite of being relentlessly played during the holidays, the solo piano recording has aged quite well. Winston shapes holiday classics and original compositions into a captivating contemporary statement. His spare, understated style captures the feel of the dark season, employing ample resonance to evoke a reflective spaciousness. The album's straightforward simplicity conveys both the celebration and quietude that characterize the best of the Yuletide spirit.

    A quintessential example of George Winston's "folk piano" style, December speaks to the spirit of the season. Mixing traditional carols, a couple of classical works, and his own originals, Winston drops notes with icy clarity into a winter silence, rippling through "Carol of Bells" and coaxing dark, introspective moods from his own suite, "Night."

    ~ Amazon.com

    Saturday, December 30, 2006

    Eternal Families

    "Well, this is pretty awesome. On Saturday we got to go see a family get sealed in the Sao Paulo Temple. Their names are Januario and Selma, it was a family that Elder Staley baptized when he was in Aruja, his first area. It was the first temple sealing that I have ever seen and it was well worth the three hour wait that we had to go through. We got there at the time we were told it would start, but someone had said the wrong time so we were two hours early, so we went to McDonalds and chilled for a little while. When we got back to the Temple, we waited in a reception room and then decided to walk around in the Temple a little bit. The Baptismal Font was awesome. The Sealing room was awesome. It was so beautiful, I really can't wait to be able to go there all the time. The sealing was amazing, and the happy couple is now together for time and all eternity. Wouldn't you all like to have that blessing as well?"

    January 17, 2007

    "I know that families can be together forever. It is really strange that the Lord would give us families in the first place if He would just take them away when life ends. That doesn't make any sense and that's why it's not true. Families are forever."

    Temple Ordinances Seal Families Together Forever

    All temple ordinances are performed by the power of the priesthood. Through this power, ordinances performed on earth are sealed, or bound, in heaven. The Savior taught his Apostles, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" (Matthew 16:19; see also D&C 132:7).

    Only in the temple can we be sealed together forever as families. Marriage in the temple joins a man and woman as husband and wife eternally if they honor their covenants. Baptism and all other ordinances prepare us for this sacred event.

    When a man and woman are married in the temple, their children also become part of their eternal family. Couples who have been married civilly can receive these blessings by preparing themselves and their children to go to the temple and be sealed to each other.

    Wednesday, December 27, 2006

    Christmas 2006 Phone Call

    We called Curtis on Christmas Day. He called us twice before the actual call to make sure of the time that we were calling him. When I tried to phone him there was no answer. He called us a third time and gave me the correct phone number. In the middle of the call we were cut off so I had to call again. We were lucky that we got to talk to him! He talked about what he's been up to lately, what he wants to accomplish in his remaining month in Brazil, and what he hopes to do when he gets home. Listen to the audio tape we made.

    Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

    Monday, December 25, 2006

    Merry Christmas

    "At Christmas time, I want all of you to know that this really is the best time of the year. I miss everyone during this Holiday season but sooner or later we will be together caroling and roasting chesnuts on an open fire. I hope everyone enjoys their eggnog and new mp3 players that they are bound to get, but remember the true meaning of Christmas and why we are all here and where we are going and who made it all possible. I love you all and I hope you have a Merry Little Christmas. My Christmas present to you is this -- I will be home on Thursday, January 25th, 2007 and I hope to see all of you at the SLC Airport. Much love, have a great Christmas."

    ~ Rocking around the Xmas Tree, Elder Curtis S. Tonks

    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    The Sistine Chapel

    "Elder Jones and I were talking the other day about something that has been kind of bothering us the last few weeks. We think that a lot of the people we teach know we are telling them the truth but they have a little bit of pride, sadly, and won't accept it, even though they know it will make their lives so much happier."

    "Elder Wright, the AP, told us it was a lot like the Sistine Chapel ceiling painting by Michelangelo. It was dark and gray and really sad and people spent their whole lives writing essays and earning PHDs and studying the mere fact that the painting was dreary and makes life look miserable."

    "Then one day the workers at the Sistine Chapel decided to clean the ceiling of the gunk and wax that had built up over the hundreds of years and started to reveal the bright oranges and reds and yellows that the painting really consisted of. The people who spent their whole lives studying it were infuriated and sued for them to stop, saying they were ruining the painting and it's meaning, when in fact the painting showed that life is happy and lovely and beautiful but the people became prideful and wouldn't accept it. That's kind how it is here sometimes with some of the people we teach, sadly enough. I hope you all understood that."

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    My New Companion - Elder Staley

    "Well, my new and last companion is from North Dakota. I have known him for a good while, ever since I was a secretary. When I was a secretary, I knew about 95% of the mission by name and a little more about them. But yeah, Elder Staley is cool. His dad is a military man and Elder Staley was born in California, moved to Idaho then to Colorado then to North Carolina then to Alaska then to Florida and back to North Carolina then to North Dakota then Utah for college at BYU and now his parents live in the south of Arizona. He converted his girlfriend to the church, which is awesome, and I am really going to enjoy my time with him. I'm just going to let him tell stories about all the sweet places he has lived. Surprisingly, he said the coolest was Alaska!"

    "He was a district leader before he came here and has trained and speaks the language well but he is in for a ride here in Vila Mariana."

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Aesop's Fables

    "I bought a book of Aesop's Fables in Portuguese yesterday. It has the coolest art ever in it. And I may start using some of those fables in lessons. I especially like the fable called the Belling the Cat where the mice get together and formulate a plan to put a bell on the cat's neck and everyone thinks it is wonderful but then the big question becomes, who is going to put the bell on the cat's neck. I could use that in a training."

    Belling the Cat

    Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this, and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. "You will all agree," said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the neighbourhood."

    This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?" The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said:

    "It is easy to propose impossible remedies."

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    "If We Go Down, We Go Down Together"

    "Yesterday at transfers and all last week I was really somber about Elder Jones getting transferred. He was a great companion. He influenced me to be a better missionary and person but always remember that life is about having fun and being happy. He was transferred to Ilha Bela, the island right off the coast of our mission. I will get to see him next Tuesday at the Mission Christmas Conference and then that will be it until July of 2007, considering he doesn't go to the next, and my last, transfer meeting. So yeah, I will have to keep up on Elder Jones."

    "True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island. To find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing."

    ~ Baltasar Gracian 1601-1658

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006


    "Today I was studying Charity and how if you could sum up Jesus Christ in one word, I think it would be charity. Then I cross-referenced a verse in Psalms and one in 1 Peter and then one in the Book of Ether, talking about how charity covers sins and how Christ covered ours. Well, he didn't just cover them, he took them completely away if we do our part."

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refers to the word charity as the "pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever." The Book of Mormon prophet Mormon urges the followers of Christ to "pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ;" (Moroni 7:47,48) thus it is the most sought after of virtues. Joseph Smith taught, "Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men..." (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45) The three-fold meaning of charity encompasses the unconditional love Christ has for all men, the motivating love all men should have for Christ as the Savior, Redeemer, and Light of the world, and the compassionate love we should seek to have for all of our fellow men on earth presently and throughout time. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught that such love is "the most joyous to the soul." (1 Nephi 11:23) It is evident from the scriptures and experience that serving others with this selfless feeling of caritas offers a renewing, invigorating, joyous taste to the soul that is lasting and memorable, and is a foundation for happiness.

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Hope Of Israel

    "We are going to sing Hope Of Israel in Stake Conference this weekend."

    Hope of Israel, no. 259

    1. Hope of Israel, Zion’s army,
    Children of the promised day,
    See, the Chieftain signals onward,
    And the battle’s in array!

    Hope of Israel, rise in might
    With the sword of truth and right;
    Sound the war-cry, “Watch and pray!”
    Vanquish ev’ry foe today.

    2. See the foe in countless numbers,
    Marshaled in the ranks of sin.
    Hope of Israel, on to battle;
    Now the vict’ry we must win!

    3. Strike for Zion, down with error;
    Flash the sword above the foe!
    Ev’ry stroke disarms a foeman;
    Ev’ry step we conq’ring go.

    4. Soon the battle will be over;
    Ev’ry foe of truth be down.
    Onward, onward, youth of Zion;
    Thy reward the victor’s crown.

    Text: Joseph L. Townsend, 1849–1942
    Music: William Clayson, 1840–1887

  • Hope Of Israel
  • Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    The Mission Is Winding Down

    Curtis sent me a tape recently. Towards the end of the tape he talks about his mission coming to an end. He talks about the things that he will and won't miss about being a missionary. Click on the link to listen to some of his end of mission thoughts.

  • Some End of Mission Thoughts
  • Monday, December 04, 2006

    Missionary Work In The Ward

    "So this week went a little better than last. We hung out with Luis Carlos Belo. His son ordered us milkshakes and we talked about football in their luxury hotel room while we waited for Luis to get home. His whole family speaks English and he is really cool. He's the best ward mission leader so far, and he has only been it for like two weeks."

    In a letter dated February 28, 2002, the First Presidency announced that bishops and wards were being given increased responsibility for missionary work. The missionary manual "Preach My Gospel" also contains updated instructions on how full-time missionaries and ward and stake leaders coordinate their work.

    Ward missionaries are called and released by the bishopric. They serve under the direction of the ward mission leader. The ward missionaries support missionary, retention, and activation efforts, including teaching with the full-time missionaries.

    Ward missionaries may be priesthood holders, sisters, or married couples. They must meet the worthiness standards required for a temple recommend.

  • Missionary Work In The Ward
  • Friday, December 01, 2006

    My Newsletter

    "Hey Everyone,

    This is your old buddy Elder Tonks down here in Sao Paulo, Brasil. I am pretty far into my mission but loving it nonetheless. I am with my 12th companion, Elder Jones, from Michigan, and we are in an area called Vila Mariana. It's going pretty sweet. Brasil is a great place, I have really enjoyed the last 22 months that I have been down here. I have learned so much, street-wise and gospel-wise, and as my time starts to run out I look to the future to see what is going to happen. A lot, that's for sure. I can't believe that we are spread out all over the world preachin' the Gospel or just hangin' in the Rocky Mountains lettin' life breeze by! I think these last two years have been some of the best of my life. I do miss the "good ol' times" but I look forward to the future with hope and anticipation. Thanks for everything you guys have ever done for me, I hope all is well wherever you are. Keep on having fun doing what your doing, whether it be teaching the truth or enjoying a white winter in Utah. I love you all. Keep on rockin'.

    Elder Tonks"

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    Temple Dedications

    "On Thursday I dedicated a member's house. That was kind of weird. We told them that we weren't so much dedicating the building as we were the people in it. They needed to be at their best for their house to have the Spirit of the Lord in it. Just like the Temple, if the Saints go to the Temple just for the food at the cafeteria, they are forgetting the whole meaning and the Temple is really of no value. People must be dedicated to the work that goes on inside the building, not the building itself. That could be wrong, but it's what I think is right."

    A temple dedication is a supremely sacred ceremonial enactment in the Church, which consecrates the building to the Lord before the beginning of temple ordinance work. From the time of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in 1836, one hundred twenty-four LDS temples have been dedicated.

  • LDS Temple Dedications
  • Sunday, November 26, 2006


    "Elder Jones and I eat tons of food on the street. We've decided it's one of the best parts of our downtown area. Our favorite has to be the Churrasco Grego which is this sandwich with this hot sliced meat and some chopped up "greens" that we smother with hot sauce. Its cheap."

    More than 400 years ago cattle ranching was introduced to the Rio Grande do Sul region of Brazil. Gauchos herded these cattle and created a new style of cooking. They called it Churrasco, which is Brazilian Barbecue. Churrasco started in the 16th and 17th centuries and spread throughout all of Brazil in the 1940's as the Gauchos spread across the country.

    Churrasco is much more than a way of cooking in Rio Grande do Sul it's a way of life. The Barbecue capital of Brazil is the city of Nova Brescia which has a statue of a man cooking barbecue in the central plaza. In the 1940's this city had a population of about 150,000. Since then the population has dropped to about 30,000 due to the mass exodus of people leaving to open Barbecue restaurants across Brazil.

    All meats are cooked on long skewers placed on racks over the fire with fattier items placed on top so that the juices will drip down and flavor the other cuts. When the meats are cooked waiters carry the skewers around table to table carving off pieces onto your plate. Without moving from your table you can experience virtually unlimited dishes until your stomach fails you and it's time to lumber home. This is truly a great dining experience.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006


    "Can you believe that Thanksgiving is upon us again? Wow, time is sure flying. Elder Jones and I are inviting Elder Smith and Elder Barney over, two really funny missionaries from our zone over for some chicken, stuffing and the fixings. It is going to be really cool."

    "There is sure a lot to be thankful for this year. I am really thankful that I am on a mission and serving the Lord. It is exhilirating! It isn't that knock on the door and tell people that we are missionaries thing. It really is fun to go out and work with Elder Jones and bring them the good news of the Gospel. I'm really thankful for this chance I am having."

    "I am thankful, this time of year, for all you have done supporting me on my mission. You have all helped me out from the day I was born to the day I was baptized to the day I went on a mission and beyond. And I am not just talking to my family and friends, but everyone that reads this e-mail. You have all been my support for so long and I could never pay you back. Thank you so much. I love you all. Have a good Thanksgiving and eat some of those green beans with the crunchy things on them in my honor."

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    My Neighborhood

    "We are going to go to the Sao Paulo Cultural Center today. It's like two minutes from our house on foot. We also live next to a famous hospital called the Beneficência Portuguesa. We live across the street from it."

    Centro Cultural São Paulo was inaugurated on May 13, 1982 and it was initially conceived to shelter an extension of Biblioteca Mário de Andrade (Mario de Andrade's Library), but the project gained new dimensions and it transformed itself in one of the first venues for multidisciplinary culture in the country. Throughout the years CCSP became a support pole to experimental productions, a point for artists' encounter, a place for coexistence that gained the face of an extension of people's house. It receives 800 thousand users a year, a visitation comparable to the largest museums and cultural centers around the world.

    Hospital Beneficência Portuguesa is considered one of the largest medical centers of Latin America. The hospital has great prominence in the areas of cardiac, neurological surgery and transplants.

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Military Service And The LDS Church

    "I went on a division with Elder Stokes, from Pocatello, Idaho yesterday. He was in the military before the mission, so he is really disciplined and the missionary regimen was no sweat for him. He was in Iraq last year but got home in time to do some school and now he's in the only Army that counts, the Lord's! I was really impressed by him."

    Although the Church is opposed to war and recognizes that going to war is a very poor alternative in resolving conflicts, tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints have served their countries' armed forces, sometimes even fighting in opposing forces, especially in World War II. The Church considers being loyal citizens to be a duty of its members, irrespective of nationality. Responding to a call for military service is one appropriate manner of fulfilling this duty of citizenship.

  • Military Service and the LDS Church
  • Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Family Responsibilities

    "We are teaching a really cool family. It is a mom, her next-door neighbor, and her daughter, by the names of Jeçi, Fatima and Gabriela. They came to church on Sunday and loved the Gospel Principles class about Family Responsibilities."

    Each person has an important place in his or her family. Through prophets the Lord has explained how fathers, mothers, and children should behave and feel toward one another. As husbands, wives, and children we need to learn what the Lord expects us to do to fulfill our purpose as a family. If we all do our part, we will be able to live together as a family forever.

    A loving and happy family does not happen by accident. Each person in the family must do his or her part. The Lord has given responsibilities to both parents and children. The scriptures teach that we must be thoughtful, cheerful, and considerate of others. When we speak, pray, sing, or work together, we can enjoy the blessings of harmony in our families.

  • Family Responsibilities
  • Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Proclamação da República

    "So today Elder Jones and I are at the worst internet cafe in the world. It is some holiday and the good internet places are all closed. It's wierd at how much closes on holidays and on Sundays down here, yet about everyone we teach is never home for the holidays and they all work on Sundays. Its a vicous cycle I tell ya."

    The holiday that Curtis is talking about is Proclamation of the Republic Day - November 15. Brazil was proclaimed a republic on this day in 1889, after the demise of Pedro II, emperor of Brazil since 1840. A military rule was then imposed for the next four years until general elections were organized in 1893. On Proclamação da República large celebrations are organized throughout the country. The largest celebrations are held in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. On this national holiday, Brazilian flags are displayed.

    Brazil Public Holidays 2006

    January 1 New Year's Day
    Jan 20 Founding of Rio de Janeiro (Regional)
    Jan 25 Founding of São Paulo (Regional)
    Feb 25 - Mar 1 Carnival
    Apr 14 Good Friday
    Apr 21 Tiradentes Day
    May 1 Labor Day
    Jun 5 Corpus Christi
    Sep 7 Independence Day
    Oct 12 Our Lady Aparecida, Patron Saint of Brazil
    Nov 2 All Souls’ Day
    Nov 15 Proclamation of the Republic Day
    Dec 24 Christmas Eve (1/2 day)
    Dec 25 Christmas Day
    Dec 31 New Year’s Eve (1/2 day).

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Horizontal Rain

    "Brasil has been quite cold recently, especially here in Sao Paulo. But that's not how the whole week was. The first part of it was warm and then on Saturday night there was a cloud hanging over the city that looked like the mother ship from the movie Independence Day and the rain and cold hasn't stopped since. On Sunday it was seriously horizontally raining. I thought that was something invented for science fiction movies, but oh, how wrong I was."

    Sao Paulo Climate

    Though generally considered by Brazilians to be drizzly and rather cool, São Paulo's climate is by world standards actually warm and mild. Summer temperatures seldom reach 30°C (86°F), while frost is extremely rare. All-time record temperatures are 38°C (100°F) and -2°C (28°F). Rainfall is abundant, especially in the warmer months. Snow flurries were reported on one occasion in 1918. Neither São Paulo or the nearby coast has ever been hit by a tropical cyclones, while tornadic activity is uncommon.

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    Knocking Doors In Vila Mariana

    "But for now, I am down here knocking doors in Vila Mariana with Elder Jones. A post about missionaries knocking doors would be quite the laugh. Just ask Detrick, he did it for about 75 percent of his two years up there in Canada."

  • "I Stand at the Door, and Knock"
    by Elder Ronald T. Halverson
    Of the Seventy
  • Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Elections In Brazil

    "How was your week? Was it as nerve-racking and ever so sweet as mine was? Since I am very doubt-filled I thought a bunch of things would happen that I didn't want to, but somehow my faith was strong enough and much good came out of the week. After a transfer, a trip to McDonald's, and a Presidential Election, the week turned out to be excellent. I am still in Vila Mariana and Elder Jones is still my companion, which is great."

    Brazil elects on the national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature. The president is elected for a four-year term by the people. The National Congress (Congresso Nacional) has two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies (Câmara dos Deputados) has 513 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation. The Federal Senate (Senado Federal) has 81 members, elected for an eight-year term, with elections every four years for alternatively one-third and two-third of the seats. Brazil has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which often no one party has a chance of gaining power alone, and so must work with each other to form coalition governments.

    "Brasil re-elected Lula as President of the Republic on Sunday. He's cool because he has a sweet beard, just like I will one day have."

    Luis Inacio Lula da Silva

    Born: October 1945
    Birthplace: Vargem Grande, Brazil
    President of Brazil, 2002-present

    Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva was elected president of Brazil in 2002. He was a populist left-wing candidate, leading a coalition of parties behind the banner of the Partidos Trabalhadores (PT, or Labor Party). Da Silva was born into poverty and trained as a metalworker, gradually becoming active in the Metalworker's Union. He was elected president of the union in 1975. He was a prominent labor spokesman during a series of strikes (1978-81) and became a co-founder of the PT. He was elected to the country's House of Representatives in 1986 and in 1990 made his first of three unsuccessful runs at the presidency. Lula was finally elected in 2002 on a platform of economic and political reform, promising especially to attack hunger in Brazil. He ran for reelection in 2006; despite a corruption scandal that tarnished his reputation as a reformer, he beat challenger Geraldo Alckmin in October of 2006 for a second term.

    He legally adopted the nickname Lula in 1982; the name, a play on his first name of Luis, means "squid" in Portuguese.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    A Young WhipperSnapper

    "We are going to baptize a little dude by the name of Lucas on Sunday. He reminds me of me when I was a young whippersnapper looking for the True Church. I always knew which one it was, I just had to wait for the Elders to pass by and start shooting hoops with me. Good old Elder Lewis and Elder Da Silva, they sure have changed my life."

    (one week later)

    "The baptism on Saturday was great. Lucas was pretty excited and after some minor font problems, we filled, heated, and baptized in it. It was really cool to do. I just look at him as the guy who could one day go on a mission and baptize a whole bunch and then do his family history and the results never end and lives never stop being changed. Thats how I look at each and every baptism I've had."

    Curtis grew up and became the guy that when on a mission, baptized people, and changed their lives. Maybe Lucas will do the same.

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Elder Robert D. Hales

    "So General Conference was amazing. I especially loved Elder Robert D. Hales talk about the Scriptures. Elder Hales is shooting 4 for 4 on General Conference talks on my mission. His first about Couple Missionaries wasn't unbelievable, but I enjoyed it because it talked about missionary work and I was in the CTM and it just fit nicely."

    Elder Robert D. Hales

    Elder Robert D. Hales was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 2, 1994.

    Elder Hales received his call as a General Authority on April 4, 1975. He served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was Presiding Bishop of the Church from April, 1985 until called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

    He was a regional representative for five years prior to his call as a General Authority. He earlier served as a branch president, bishop, high councilor, and stake president’s counselor. He was president of the England London Mission in the late ‘70s and has served as first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency.

  • Couple Missionaries: Blessings from Sacrifice and Service

  • Preparations for the Restoration and the Second Coming: "My Hand Shall Be over Thee"

  • To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency

  • Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation
  • Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Representing The Ipiranga Zone

    (click image to enlarge)

    "This is a picture of Elder Jones and Elder Tonks, representing the Ipiranga Zone and the one and only President Wilkins, and his awesome wife, Sister Wilkins. We were at interviews and we decided that we might as well take a picture with the coolest mission president since President Urry. President Wilkins is the most calm and collected person I've ever met, and he has a way to make everyone feel really valuable and to get the job done. He is quite a neat fellow. We love President Wilkins and support his every move. Except for when he transfers us apart. Just kidding, the support goes on!"

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Train Station Music

    "We use the train a lot here in Sao Paulo. It's all within the city and the outlying cities. Sao Paulo is huge. We were waiting for the train the other night and now I have pretty much decided that the train, though vandalized, dirty and full of people selling candy and whatnot illegally, has great the music playing at the stations. We heard Elton John (That's Why They Call It The Blues), U2 (I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For), Sting (If I Ever Lose My Faith In You), Phil Collins (The Love Tonight), and some Enya song that everyone knows but no one knows the title. Oh well, the train is sweet! Except when you have to stand."

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    President Gordon B. Hinckley: A Modern Prophet

    "It was great to hear in conference from our beloved prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley. He has been the Prophet the whole time that I have been a member of the Church. I have heard him speak dozens of times, each one better than the rest. I love the Brigham Young quote about the Martin Handcart Company that President Hinckley used in his talk about Faith. President Hinckley is awesome, I know he is a prophet and leads this, the Lord's True Church, on the earth. I love the words to the hymn he wrote called My Redeemer Lives: "Oh give me Thy sweet spirit still/The peace that comes alone from Thee/And help me walk the lonely road/That leads to Thine eternity..." Good stuff."

    Gordon B. Hinckley

    Born in Salt Lake City on June 23, 1910, Gordon B. Hinckley was prepared from his youth to be a prophet. After graduating from the University of Utah, he was called to serve a mission to Great Britain. After he returned, he embarked on a lifetime of service for the Church. He was employed as the executive secretary of the Church Radio, Publicity, and Literature committee, before he was called to be an Apostle in 1961. He was later called to serve as a counselor to President Kimball, President Benson, and President Hunter. Since becoming Church President on March 12, 1995, he has directed the most intense temple building program in the history of the Church in an effort to extend temple blessings to more members. He has exhibited vitality and energy as he has traveled about the world meeting and speaking to members of the Church. Through television interviews and national press publications, he has increased media attention and improved the public image of the Church. He has counseled Church members to fellowship new converts, befriend members of other faiths, live exemplary lives, and avoid the evils of the world.

  • Biography of President Gordon B. Hinckley
  • Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Cool Dad

    Curtis told me in one of his emails that I was a cool dad. Here's how he put it:

    "Thanks for being the coolest dad since Peter Griffin from Family Guy. You're a whole lot funnier, thats for sure.....

    Love, Elder Tonks"

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    LDS Church Callings

    "So does Bishop Taylor already have a calling in mind for me? Tell him I would rule at Ward Missionary, especially if Detrick was my companion. We would teach at least 150 lessons a week. I sure was blessed to have the bishops that I did while I was getting ready for my mission. Bishop Taylor is a good man, I really look up to him and I know he is making the BC3 a better ward."

    Service in the LDS Church is voluntary. Members do not receive wages or other compensation for their time. Presidency Leaders have the authority to "call" members to serve in positions under their direction, and do so after prayerful study of those being considered. In the LDS Church a "calling" is a position or assignment in which members have been asked to serve or perform.

    Generally members serve in their callings for a few years. Once their time of service is complete they are released from their calling (by the responsible authority) and new members are called in their place.

    Some callings of the LDS Church in local congregations include:

    Bishopric (includes Bishop, and two Counselors)
    Elder's Quorum Presidency
    Relief Society Presidency
    Sunday School Presidency
    Single Adult Representative
    Young Men's Presidency
    Young Women's Presidency
    Primary Presidency
    High Priest Group Leader
    Teacher Development
    Music Chairperson
    Ward Clerk
    Executive Secretary
    Membership Clerk
    Finance Clerk
    Ward Mission Leader
    Ward Missionaries
    Ward Librarian
    Ward Bulletin Editor

    There are many other callings including LOTS of teachers in all of the organizations.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Where's The Park?

    "Today Elder Jones and Yours Truly are going to the park to throw the football around. You have to see Sao Paulo; there are no parks anywhere and Elder J has a football so we are going to go throw some long bombs and talk about how much we love Peyton Manning and the 3-4 defense. Elder Jones knows quite a lot about football so he is automatically a sweet companion."

    Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Redeemer Of Israel

    Redeemer of Israel #6 - William W. Phelps, adapted from Joseph Swain. Included in the first LDS hymn book, 1835.

    1. Redeemer of Israel, Our only delight, On whom for a blessing we call,our shadow by day And our pillar by night, Our King, our Deliv'rer, our all!

    2. We know he is coming To gather his sheep And lead them to Zion in love, For why in the valley Of death should they weep Or in the lone wilderness rove?

    3. How long we have wandered As strangers in sin, And cried in the desert for thee! Our foes have rejoiced When our sorrows they've seen, But Israel will shortly be free.

    4. As children of Zion, Good tidings for us. The tokens already appear. Fear not, and be just, For the kingdom is ours. The hour of redemption is near.

    5. Restore, my dear Savior, The light of thy face; Thy soul-cheering comfort impart; And let the sweet longing For thy holy place Bring hope to my desolate heart

    6. He looks! and ten thousands Of angels rejoice, And myriads wait for his word; He speaks! and eternity, Filled with his voice, Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.

  • Listen to "Redeemer of Isreal"
  • Sunday, October 08, 2006

    God Gave Us Memories...

    (click image to enlarge)

    Happy 21st Birthday Curtis

    I came across this picture from 1988. It was taken when we were building our new house in South Ogden. I sent it and a few others to Curtis. It wasn't that long ago that he was a little boy standing by his birthday sign and now he's a young man living thousands of miles away from home. I can't believe how quickly he has grown up.

    "Those pictures are so sweet. Especially of the one of me and you in what is now the kitchen, and the one of me on my third birthday. Look at that sweet printer paper and my haircut. I was listening to a good hymn on the computer and it had a good touching piano part and I was looking through the photos. Brought a lagrima to the eye almost. It was like watching the high school graduation video. It's cool to look back on life and the memories that were had. "God gave us memories that we may have June roses in the December of our lives." President Monson always says that. Thanks for the photos. I saved a few."

    "On Sunday I turn 21 years of age. Parabéns to me! I don't even feel like it. On Friday Elder Jones and I are going to the Quintal do Braz, the best pizza place in Sao Paulo. It is going to be great. I don't feel like I am getting that old, but time marches on. The work is going well. I am really focused and loving it even though it is hard at times. But yeah, just gotta keep on keepin' on. I hope your all doing well and I love you. Have a great week and send me a birthday card or better yet, a cake. Later, ya'll!"

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006


    "I played Uno on Sunday night with a family who just moved to our ward named Walker and Juliana and their six kids. I felt right at home like with the Junk Family when I was there. I totally worked their daughters in Uno with my unbelievable American skills. This family is cool. We need to find some investigators out there we can teach in their house. And maybe when we teach them about Joseph Smith and invite them to be baptized, we can teach them how to play Uno and I can then beat them."

    Saturday, September 30, 2006

    The Profile Of A Prophet

    "I read a good talk by Hugh B. Brown called the Profile of a Prophet in the June Ensign this morning. He pretty much proves that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but all you really have to do to know is pray. Thats all there is to it."

    Hugh B. Brown was assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given at Brigham Young University on 4 October 1955.

  • The Profile Of A Prophet
  • Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    My New Companion - Elder Jones

    "This is Elder Jones from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has 14 months on the mission and is my fellow zone leading, Notre Dame football hating, crime fighting companion down here in Vila Mariana, capital of the Ipiranga Zone. He went to BYU before the mission and was buffer than The Governator in his action film years. He has served in some areas similar to mine, and was actually my zone leader in this area when I was secretary in Belem. We are having quite a lot of fun together because we are united in purpose and in prayer, and when that's the scoop, the success is gonna flow like the ocean's tide."

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Elder & Sister Uchtdorf

    "So on Monday we had the chance to see Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf. It was so awesome to hear him speak. He spoke to all four Sao Paulo missions about several things, including the importance of repentance, scripture study, enduring to the end, Preach My Gospel, how the missionaries found his wife Harriet, and many other things, leaving us with the one thing that only he could do at the chapel that day - an Apostolic Blessing. I loved it. It just confirms that the Church is true. I love the reconfirmations I get over and over on my mission. Elder Uchtdorf's wife is pretty cool as well, really energetic and she read some great quotes from past apostles and prophets. The fireside was excellent. Its hard to express in an email."

    Elder Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 2 October 2004. He has served as a General Authority since April 1994, when he was called as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. In April 1996 he was called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and he served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from August 2002 until he received his current calling.

    Elder Uchtdorf married Harriet Reich on 14 December 1962, and they were sealed in the Bern Switzerland Temple. They are the parents of two children and have five grandchildren.

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Mission Videos

    This is the link to the videos that Curtis has taken with his digital camera. There is also a permanent link on the right side of the page. They are optimized for a broadband internet connection -- if you don't want to wait for them to load, right-click on them and save them to your hard drive.

    Take a look at them. Some are quite funny!

  • Curtis' Mission Videos
  • Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Where Is Curtis Now?

    Curtis in his sixth (and maybe final?) area now. It is called Vila Mariana and is downtown in the heart of Sao Paulo.

    Vila Mariana is a wealthy area and includes Ibirapuera Park, the Obelisk and the Mausoleum of the heroes from the Revolution and the "Monumento às Bandeiras".

    (click image for a larger view)

    "Well, on Monday night I called the zone leaders to make sure that Elder Carvalho and I didn't have to go to transfers on Tuesday. Well, after only 2 1/2 months in Jd. Camargo Novo I was yanked out and sent to the transfer meeting. At the transfer meeting I found out my new area and companion. I am in Vila Mariana as a zone leader for the Ipiranga Zone. Thats a pretty big responsibility since this zone is massive with numerous districts and areas, but I feel pretty confident. This is my second time in the zone, I was first in Belem a little over two months ago and now I am here, downtown, about to rock and roll. This area was the first ward in Sao Paulo, called the Vila Mariana Ward. My trainer was a zone leader down here and now "like father, like son" or something to that effect. We live in an apartment building on the 16th floor with a great view of the south side of Sao Paulo, "the rich side". We have the metro stations of Liberdade, Sao Joaquim, Vergueiro, Vila Mariana, Ana Rosa, Paraiso, Chacara Klabin and Estudantes in our area for our transporte needs."

    Abraham's Covenant

    "Zone Conference in Belenzinho was awesome yesterday. The mission president did a training, making us talk about Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, his 12 sons and the importance of Lehi being a member of the House of Israel and how important the Book of Mormon is to all of the missionary work we do. I am pretty much going to study the heck out of the Abrahamic Covenant this week. I never realized how big the responsibility we have is, at least from the "Abraham Angle"."

    November 1, 2006
    "I have been studying a lot of the Abrahamic Covenant personally and with Elder Jones. I never knew how much went into it. It was always hard to understand for me but I decided it was something important that affected me as a Priesthood holder so I decided, with the help of my handy-dandy Pearl of Great Price Study Manual, to tackle it. Basically, to recieve all the blessings, and it's a huge amount of the Lord's most choice and greatest blessings, the Lord promised to the Father of the Faithful, in this lifetime, we need to recieve the Priesthood or be blessed by it, recieve the Holy Ghost, get married in the Temple and sealed to our families, and be faithful throughout our lives. Then we inherit land, posterity and salvation and exaltation and all the blessings that come with that."

    Abraham's Covenant

    Abraham first received the gospel by baptism (which is the covenant of salvation). Then he had conferred upon him the higher priesthood, and he entered into celestial marriage (which is the covenant of exaltation), gaining assurance thereby that he would have eternal increase. Finally he received a promise that all of these blessings would be offered to all of his mortal posterity (D&C 132: 29-50; Abr. 2: 6-11). Included in the divine promises to Abraham were the assurances that (1) Christ would come through his lineage, and that (2) Abraham’s posterity would receive certain lands as an eternal inheritance (Gen. 17; Gen. 22: 15-18; Gal. 3; Abr. 2). These promises taken together are called the Abrahamic covenant. It was renewed with Isaac (Gen. 26: 1-4, 24) and again with Jacob (Gen. 28; Gen. 35: 9-13; Gen. 48: 3-4).

    The portions of the covenant that pertain to personal salvation and eternal increase are renewed with each individual who receives the ordinance of celestial marriage (see D&C 132: 29-33). Those of non-Israelite lineage, commonly known as gentiles, are adopted into the house of Israel, and become heirs of the covenant and the seed of Abraham, through the ordinances of the gospel (Gal. 3: 26-29).

    Being an heir to the Abrahamic covenant does not make one a “chosen person” per se, but does signify that such are chosen to responsibly carry the gospel to all the peoples of the earth. Abraham’s seed have carried out the missionary activity in all the nations since Abraham’s day. (Matt. 3: 9; Abr. 2: 9-11).

    To fulfill the covenant God made with Abraham - having particular reference to the fact that the literal seed of his body would be entitled to all of the blessings of the gospel (Abr. 2: 10-11) - a number of specific and particular things must take place in the last days. The gospel must be restored, the priesthood must be conferred again upon man, the keys of the sealing power must be given again to mortals, Israel must be gathered, and the Holy Ghost must be poured out upon the gentiles. All this has already taken place or is in process of fulfillment.

  • Thanks for the Covenant by Russell M. Nelson
  • Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Hotchee Doggie

    "Do you know you reminded me of when you talked about $7 hot dogs. $10 corn dogs from Disneyland! But those things are so good. Did you know that corn dogs don't exist down here. Pretty sad, huh? I am gonna buy some chicken wings today, luckily those exist."

    Brazilian Hotdogs

    Called the "hot dog completo" (pronounced hotchee doggie), it is typically eaten in buns with ketchup and mustard, but further covered in many regions with assorted fixings such as marinara sauce, cheese (including parmesean, requeijão, caitupiry, cheddar, etc.), corn niblets, canned peas, mashed potatoes, shoestring potatoes, quail eggs, among others. The bun is sometimes pressed in a panini machine to give a crunchy exterior with melted cheeses.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Missionary Work And The Atonement

    "I sure am having fun down here. We are working hard. We have Cicero marked for baptism on Saturday so we will see what happens. We are really doing our part I feel. It seems like sometimes these baptisms just come down to luck, even though I shouldn't really say that. I just wish the person could see how important and true and awesome our message is without all the little complications. But missionary work isn't easy because salvation isn't easy. That's my view. And Jeffrey R. Holland's as well from a talk I have called Missionary Work and the Atonement. I sent it to my good buddy Elder Junk cause he will for sure benefit from it."

    The Atonement of Jesus Christ is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation, and the chief doctrine of the plan of salvation, which we are called to teach.

  • Missionary Work and the Atonement
  • Sunday, September 10, 2006

    "One Link On A 100 Foot Chain"

    "We have been teaching Paulo Eduardo like mad lately. We have been talking about the Plan of Salvation a lot with him and how this life is but a small moment as compared to the never ending eternity that is yet to come. I told him we need to do what is right because we only have "one link on a 100 ft. chain" to do so. He agreed and we marked his baptism for the 23rd of September. After he is baptized he will start polishing and shining the link of his life, if you know what I mean."

    The Plan of Salvation

    You lived with your Heavenly Father as one of His spirit children before you began your life on Earth. You were happy there, but God knew that you could not continue to progress unless you left Him for a time.

    So He presented His plan—the plan of salvation. It allowed you to come to Earth, where you would gain a physical body and would have experiences that would help you to learn and grow. The purpose of the plan is to help you become more like Him.

    Heavenly Father knew that while you were on Earth you would make mistakes—everyone does. So, as part of His plan, He provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, who would make it possible for sins to be forgiven, and for all people who accept His sacrifice to return to live with Heavenly Father.

    The fact that you are living on Earth means that you accepted Heavenly Father’s plan and came here wanting to do all you could to receive all He has to offer.

    The marvelous thing about Heavenly Father’s plan is that by following it, not only can you return to Him after you die—you can also find peace and happiness in this life.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Dancing The Quadrilha

    "We had a Festa Julina, like the Festa Junina I had in Cruzeiro last year, this time in Jardim Camargo Novo. It was pretty dumb, except for the rice pudding and when the kids danced the Quadrilha. I want to learn how to dance the Quadrilha. I will show everyone what the Festa Junina is all about next summer. We will paint fake beards on and wear straw hats and dance the Quadrilha and eat Paçoca. Delicious!"

    Quadrilha is a Brazilian dance of European origin. It's first records, which mentioned old rural dances from Normandie and England, got lost in time. The group of aristocractic dances that spread across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries arrived in Brazil along with the Portuguese colonizers.

    The dance nowadays known as "quadrilha" harbored in Brazil better known as "Pas de Dance", a kind of French ballroom pair dance. The word "Quadrilha" derives from French "Quadrille" and from Italian "Squadro", which means a group of soldiers standing on a square.

    According to researcher Câmara Cascudo, during the time when Brazil was a Portuguese colony, there was a strong identity with everything coming from Europe. Thus, it was very easy to adapt the term "quadrille" into "quadrilha".

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    A Restoration Of All Things

    "Zone Conference was yesterday. The title of conference was A Restoration of All Things. We just focused on some things that are becoming really weak in our mission, like the purpose and outcome of contacts and of the nightly planning sessions we are supposed to always have. So that is what I am supposed to do my trainings on for the next 6 weeks in district meeting. I am gonna enjoy it, although as of right now I have no idea what to do. I'll ponder and search the scriptures and pray for that one."

    The concept of a restoration of all things is biblical and is frequently spoken of in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Peter spoke of the anticipated "times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). Latter-day Saints understand this as a prophetic anticipation of a full and final restoration of the gospel in the development and fulfillment of the purposes of God in the last days. The current era is therefore called the dispensation of the fulness of times in which all things will be gathered together in Christ (Eph. 1:10; D&C 27:13). The Church teaches that every gospel truth and blessing, and all priesthood authority, keys, ordinances, and covenants necessary for mankind's eternal salvation have been, or will be, restored in this dispensation. In this manner, the blessings of dispensations past will "flow into the most glorious and greatest of dispensations, like clear streams flowing into a mighty river" (DS 1:168).

  • A Restoration Of All Things
  • Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    T3 - Team Tonks and Turner

    "T3. In other words, Team Tonks and Turner. This is him and I in front of the Banespa, the tallest building in Sao Paulo. Although he was never my companion, we sure had a great time down here. I will miss him when he goes home at the end of September. He has tried so hard to talk me into going to BYU, but I told him only if we go to BYU Jerusalem. Or BYU Hawaii. Wherever the party's at. He is from SoCal and we plan on making the T3 t-shirt company when we get home. Just to make some spare money to rent Chuck Norris films and eat at Del Taco."

    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    The Meaning Of "Grace"

    "I was studying a favorite talk of mine and I learned a lot about "grace". The name of the talk is "In the Strength of the Lord" by David A. Bednar in his pre-Apostle days. I really enjoyed it, and while I was reading Alma 2 I just applied the meaning of "grace" (the enabling and reedeming power of the Atonement) and I really learned a lot. I sure do love to study. I get something good out of it every day."

    Grace is a word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

    It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

    Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25: 23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible. This principle is expressed in Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches (John 15: 1-11). See also John 1: 12-17; Eph. 2: 8-9; Philip. 4: 13; D&C 93: 11-14.

  • In the Strength of the Lord by David A. Bednar
  • Saturday, August 26, 2006

    Wheelchair Distribution

    "We had a great service project this morning. The Church donated 500 wheelchairs to the community where we and about 20 other missionaries live so we all met up at this school and gave wheelchairs to people who had been invited to recieve them. It was great to help someone out of their old beat up wheelchair and into a shiny new blue one, complete with the church logo on the back. Service projects make you feel so good, like when we used to make Chicken Feet Soup in Cruzeiro. We are going back to help with the wheelchairs again tomorrow."

    Humanitarian Services

    What It Is
    Humanitarian Services, working in partnership with local organizations that serve the disabled, distributes about 40,000 wheelchairs each year in 70 countries. Those who have witnessed a disabled person receiving a wheelchair for the first time report that the joy and tears of gratitude shown by the recipient are often overwhelming.

    Why It Is a Priority
    Only about one percent of the roughly 100 million disabled people worldwide own or have access to a wheelchair.* Many have lost the use of one or both legs due to war, birth defects, or disease. In most developing countries, there are few social supports to help the disabled. They are highly dependent on family members for support and 24-hour care. For the adults, being without mobility often means being without work. In addition, UNESCO estimates that 98 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries are unable to attend school.

    What It Does and How It Helps
    For the disabled, mobility is the key to independence, education, and self-reliance. A person given the gift of mobility is freer to travel, work, and go to school. Additionally, their caretakers are also more free to spend time on other productive activities.

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Fernando de Noronha

    "I was talking to Elder Silveira and he was telling me about the most exotic place in all of Brasil. It is an island in the north called Fernando de Noronha. It's supposed to be pretty beautiful and way cooler than Utah, if that's possible. I don't want to hate on Brasil, but being down here for so long has made me consider Utah, hands down, is the celestial kingdom on earth. I do love Brasil still."

    LOCATION: Located 332 miles off the Brasilian coastal city of Recife, Fernando de Noronha is the largest and only inhabited island in an archipelago of 21 islands and islets. The entire archipelago was declared a Marine National Park in 1988 and today is administered by the Brasilian state of Pernambuco. All together 70% of the archipelago is considered National Park.

    HISTORY: Fernando has a colorful history. Discovered in 1503 by Amerigo Cespucci, they were for a time a popular pirate's lair. It was invaded many times, passing through Dutch, English and French hands until in 1737 the French were driven out by the Pernambuco captaincy. Ten forts were built around the island to protect Pernambuco's ownership. The main fort, Forte dos Remedios, was completed in 1738 and sits atop a hill overlooking the traditional town center. Through the years the fort has been used as a penitentiary for common and political prisioners.

    The island, besides serving as a political and common criminal prison, has also been home to military installations, including an American base during World War II.

    TODAY: Today the island population is around 3000 inhabitants, dedicated to civil service, fishing, agriculture and the growing tourism and hospitality sector. Vila dos Remedios is where most people live and socialize. Here you will find a cluster of homes and "pousadas", a few stores, the post office, administration center, church and museum. The island has over 100 small "pousadas" spread out over the island, and none located directly on the beach.

  • Fernando de Noronha Official Site
  • Sunday, August 20, 2006

    My New Companion - Elder Carvalho

    "My companions name is Elder Carvalho, he is from the south of Brazil in a touristic state called Santa Catarina. He is pretty cool and I am gonna teach him to really throw down on the Spirit in our lessons and contacts. His family (except his dad) are all members of the church. He is 24 years old, and is gonna be molded into an exact replica of his trainer...but better!!! I've only known him for about 21 hours so I can't tell you too much about him at the moment. So yeah, we have got a long ways to go.

    Being at home with my new guy was really weird, I felt so incapable and sad and stuff but a good nights sleep always helps. We had an excellent companionship study and my companion is really timid and shy but I am gonna kick him into tip top shape. Just give me a few weeks, you'll see.

    Keep Elder Carvalho and I in your prayers."

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Brazilian Feijoada

    "The members sometimes make us a "lite" feijoada, because anything more than lite could kill us."

    Feijoada -- a bean potpourri type dish -- is roughly the Brazilian equivalent of our American "soul food". It is without a doubt the country's national dish. It is in fact so popular throughout Brazil that most restaurants, from the humblest inner-city " lanchonete" to the sophisticated hotels lining the Bahia and Rio shores, designate specific days in which "feijoada" is served at lunch time as "o prato do dia" -- the day's special. Other eateries pride themselves in the fact that they serve it every day and advertise it in the yellow pages and/or in conspicuous blackboards outside their premises. Since "feijoada" is in general a particularly "heavy" dish, it is only served at noon. The recommended post-feijoada activity is a nap.

    In a real feijoada, or as the Brazilians say, "uma feijoada leg¡tima," every part of the pig is thrown into the pan. It is also a known fact that the sight of the pig's ear, tail or snout floating in the feijoada will upset the gringos. So feijoada is often made -- to the dismay of the traditionalists -- with only the noble parts of the pig. This reduces the fat content and makes it visually less offensive to gringos.

    The traditional history of Brazilian feijoada is that it was a "luxury" dish of African slaves in Brazilian farms, as it was prepared with relatively cheap ingredients (beans, rice, collard greens, farofa) and leftovers from salted pork and meat production. Over time, it first became a popular dish among lower classes, and finally the "national dish" of Brazil, offered even by the finest restaurants.

    However, this history is disputed. Some claim that it was inspired on the French cassoulet, while others conjecture that it evolved from the bean-and-pork dishes from the regions of Estremadura and Trás-os-Montes in Portugal.

  • An easy-to-do "lite" version of Feijoada
  • Sunday, August 13, 2006

    The When And Where Of My Mission

    "My dad asked me about all my companions, areas, and people I have lived with. Here is the rundown:"


    I got here in Brazil and had Elder Hirschi as my companion at the CTM, living in the same room as Elder Shaw and Elder Ferguson and also two Brazilians whose names I've long forgotten.


    Then I was trained and lived in Cruzeiro with Elder Pieper, taking the place of my good buddy Elder Turner, who is a great friend of mine to this day.

    Bom Clima

    Then I moved to Bom Clima in Guarulhos, lived with Elders Hudson, W. Silva, Eddington and Borland and my companion was Elder Walker. Elder Hudson then found a house and him and W. Silva moved out, and it was the 4 of us for one week until Elder Eddington went home (with Elder Pieper) and Elder Domaredzky moved in. One transfer later I was training Elder Costa, and Elder Borland and I became the best of friends.


    I then got transfered out to Taubate to be with Elder Dias.


    Then back to Belem to be with Elder Biggs for two weeks, then Elder Martins, then Elder Dias, then Elder Stoddard, then Elder Hicks, then Elder Dias again.

    Jardim Camargo Novo

    And now I am in Jardim Camargo Novo with Elder Silveira and this transfer is about to end and I will probably train an American. That would be sweet. In Jardim Camargo Novo I am the district leader, and I may be a trainer here soon.

    That's kind of the rundown on when and where of my mission.

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