Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas packages, happiness and mustaches

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  The highlight of our day was to get to talk and see Elder Darke!  He is doing very well and claims not to be homesick yet.  He loved the packages and letter/emails that he's received.  He seems to be trying to comfort us from thousands of miles away - just like his usual self!
From Elder Darke:
This week was super fun!
    So as I hope you all know it was Christmas!  They do celebrate Christmas here in brazil and it is very simmilar to Christmas in the states (as far as I could tell :D).  All the stores had Christmas specials and Christmas trees!  I saw Santa Clause and there were red decorations everywhere.  But these are just the physical signs of christmas, it goes much deeper.
    The spirit of Christmas was here as well.  It penetrated into every heart and it was very noticable.  Everyone seemed happier, it was easier to talk to people and give out pamphlets and books of mormon.  As my companion and I were working I just kept thinking how we are representivites of Jesus Christ and how Christmas was the day of his birth.  So Christ was definatly in this Christmas.
    This week I also received some packages and letters!  It made me so happy to have them!  Thank you for sending them!  I have so much candy now that I am sure that I will be fat if I keep eating it though :D.
    So I have taught more then usuall this week!  Not becuase we have more lessons or anything, but becuse my companion trusts me a little bit more so he is giving me more oportunities to teach.  The thing about teaching is, I cant really understand what they are saying, so I am still heavily dependant upon my companion to help me.  But I am glad I am having a greater chance to help people learn about the gospel (even if at times they dont understand me).
    Something that made me really happy though is that in the news I have received I have heard stores where many of you are trying extra hard to teach the people around you about the gospel.  Thank you so much!  I know the thought of teaching is daunting, and at times scary.  But just think about what you are doing when you reach out and try to help someone learn.  You are helping them learn things that bring peace, comfort, and assurances that they will see their families again.  Even if they dont join the church.  Even if they dont except your message.  Just trying, just reaching out and trying to help people be happy is worth it.  
    I know I am not there, In fact I am quite far away.  But thank you for thinking of the happiness of others, and trying to help them be happy forever.  It really means a lot to me :D.
    The last thing I can say is probably to just be happy.  Life is a storm at times.  When everything seems to be beating agains you, and you think you are about to drown in all of the noise, stress, and distractions the worlds has.  Just think to yourself, Jesus Christ knows excatally what you are feeling.  Not only that he willing to help you any way he can. He can help you feel peace and comfort.  We just need to turn to him.  Turn to him and then be happy.  And times you wont want to, and happiness seems like a lost dream.  Fight for it, try your hardest to be happy every moment of every day.  Not only will it come, but your will help others be happy to.
-Elder Darke
P.s. If you want to help someone learn about the gospel, but you dont know where to start.  Then kneel down and pray for it.  Heavenly father will provide oportunities for you.  He will help you, but first, you need to ask him for help.  As you do this, he will give you all the help you need. I know this is true, for I have felt his love, and his help personally.

We will be sending Elder Darke a small package for Valentines if anyone wants to add to it, he needed a couple of things.  Our deadline will probably be Jan 15th.  Send me a message if you need to.  Thank You for all of your support for our amazing missionary!
Melanie (Mom)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Practice that piano, devotionals and Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Here's a brief note or two from our missionary to brighten your day!  Enjoy the Holidays!

    Sorry I didnt email yesterday, My P-day for this week is today, so ya :D.  Today was a blast.  We had a zone activity so at the church we had like 30 missionaries there and we did have a great time.  We watched a movie, played volleyball, ate meat, drank soda, threw water balloons :D We just had a fun time :D
    My zone leader is getting transfered tommorow and it is really sad because he is my friend.  However he is awesome and I am sure that he will be a great blessing to the area and the people that he is going to next :D.  We got one of those bottles with the corks in them to celebrate his freindshipness and That was loud! I didnt expect it to do that, but it like shot out of that bottle like it was trying to break through the wall :P.  The soda tasted like apple juice to me, and it was really good :D.
    We watched a christmas devotional the other day, but i didnt understand it becuase of portugese.  Through all of these I really have come to understand the value of good music.  Becuase i have not been able to understand the words people speak for some time, but the music, and the spirit of good music is easy to feel.  I have come to understand just how much i took for granted the blessing of music that i have.  It took me not being able to understand anything to be able to appreciate the thing that i have always had :D.  Becuase of this i want to be able to play music to, so one day i might be able to help some other soul who might not understand what is going on appreciate the soft spirit of good music :D.
    So Christmas is comming up and I was able to finish Jesus the Christ.  What a great thing to be reading as we come to the season of Christmas.  Jesus the Christ talks about everything that our lord did while he was alive.  How he lived for us, and then died for us.  and it even talks about Christmas, the day that our savior and reedemer came to the earth.  I guess this is also something that I have taken for granted, but I am trying to fully appreciate the blessing, and the true meaning, of Christmas.  It isnt about the Christmas Gifts we receive.  It is about the birth of our lord, and the gift that he gave to us later in his life.  It is appreciation for the wonderful mercy he gives to us.  It is celebrating that our savior came to the world.  What more important day could there be? (retorical question, for there are many important days).  However for me,  this day (Christmas)  Is the day that i hold most precious to me.
  In harmony with the day that is comming, I encourage you to give greater attention to Jesus Christ this Christmas.  Talk about it in family home evening, let your family help fill your Joy over this day to overflowing.  Study the Scriptures about Christ.  But most of all, Make sure to focus on Christ, this Christmas, in any way that you decide is best.
-Elder Darke

Christmas is near and the spirit of the season is really helpful for missionary work.  The ward that I am serving in right now has sung christmas Charols at the mall and we were able to give out so many pamphlets and books of mormon that, at the moment, we are almost out of them :D.  That is a good thing though becuase that means more and more people are receiving our message that we have!  Now if they decide to act upon our message is up to them, but I really hope they do :D.
  Sunday the stake president and the missionaries (my companion, me, and the zone leaders) sang a bunch of christmas songs in connection with our stake presidents talk.  It was really amazing, the spirit was really strong, and even though we are not as good as the mormon tabernacle choir, I thought that it went well :D.
  My portugese is making headway, I can talk to people about simple concepts!  That is a huge development and it makes me really happy :D.  I still cant understand them very well becuse everyone uses weird words.  However I will figure it out soon :D.
  So the other day i was thinking, and I realized that I have been on my mission for about 6 Months.  WOW!  Where did the time go?  I feel like I just barley left.  I am excited for the next 3/4s of my mission becuase I get to be an even better missionionary.  To teach people, become a better person, and to learn about the gospel and the church.  I realized that there are things that I need to work on, BUT everything that up to this point I though I had some things that I didnt need to improve on!  Was I wrong!  I need to get better at everything!  Because I am not perfect at anything! :D.  I know that as i do this I will be able to grow into the missionary that I want to be.
  So while I have been here I have been cooking a lot more then I ever had before.  So If you have a favorite recepie, or a food that you really like, shoot me an email about how to make it!  So that was i can make fun foods :D.
  I have received letters from many of you!  Thank you so much.  Each letter I have received seems to be right what I need at that time.  Missions are awesome, but there are times when a helping hand is needed.  Thank you so much for your support and love!  I am not sure where I would be without all of you!
  I miss you all but I am having so much fun on my mission!  I am really not that homesick becuse i feel like I was just there :D.  So Yep :D.  But I miss you all, and I love you all :D.
-Elder Darke
P.s.  If nothing else, just be happy this Christmas.  Becuase you being happy makes me happy.  Even if you dont tell me your happy, Me just knowing that you are makes me so happy :D.

Remember that you could be the answer to the prayers that other missionary families are giving!  Invite, Invite, invite.  Help your local missionaries be successful also!
Love, Melanie (Mom)

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Picture, Chess and God's power

Here's the update for this week!  I like that he'll send a couple of pictures.  That way I can do a visual inspection like I'm sure all mother's do!  You know, is he eating? did he iron his shirt? is he happy? are his teeth falling out? Proof of the gifts/letter we've sent on good faith that they'd reach him!
From Elder Darke:  
So this last week was really interesting.
  My zone is trying to learn the brazilian national anthem, and it is totally different then the american nation anthem.  However it is fun :D.
  My zone leaders are brazillian and they are super cool.  Here is a picture of them, my companion, and me :D.

  So they are super awesome!  (and we are in our church building.  All the floors are tile here :D.)  
  So my portugese is progressing super slowly, however I know that the lord will help me and strengthen me in areas that i of myself am weak :D.  (like learning languages).  
  I am having a great time here though :D.  For P-Day I made a chess board :D.  (its actually just a peice of paper with a grid on it, however it is a chess board :D).  We dont have any chess peices so we just use coin money that we have left over :D.  It is super fun :D.
  Something that i should tell you though is what happened the other day.  So we had to give someone a blessing.  (i didnt do it).  However my companion told me before that i was probably going to.  So as i thought about it, i was actually less nervous then the times i did it in english.  Simply for the reason that I knew that heavenly father would help me as much as i needed.  So i wasnt worried.  I didnt end up giving the blessing, but the peace and comfort that i felt as it approached is just more proof to me of the overwelming love and power of god :D.
  So the last thing today is the simple act of trusting in our lord.  Learning portugese has been interesting becuse it was different then i thought it would be.  but that is were trusting in our lord come in.  Becuase he knows exactally what he is doing.  He has a plan that can help us better then we could think possible.  This plan is usually different from what we think is going to happen.  As we put our trust in the lord, both in that his power can do anything, and in his timing is ultimatly perfect we will be able to have patience to wait out the storms of life, while looking for the rainbows in the clouds.  Life wont be easy, it never was ment to be.  However there can be joy found, and miracles seen as we trust in our Savior, Lord, and God.
-Elder Darke
P.s. Missions are so amazing!
P.s.s. Thank you for all the letters that i received!  I loved them all :D.
P.s.s.s. and (i dont know if you can see this well, but i really like this)

Thanks to all!
Melanie (Mom)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ancestors, surnames and packages

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Here's an update from Elder Galen Darke.
  So this week has been amazing!  It is the start of a new transfer so it has been different then normal but still amazing!
  My area got new zone leaders, and all the companionships got changed.  So it is cool to see the new people!  Becuse of the new zone leaders, they are in our area so we have been helping them out a little this past week and it is cool, but is also changing our normal scedual. :D.  it is worth it though.
  We had a babtism this week (investagator of our last zone leaders), and she never came.  So that was really saddening however there was cake there so we made ourselves feel better with cake :D.  it totally worked.
  My portugese still isnt good however i can pick out words and somtimes sort of understand what is going on.  Most of the time i still dont understand what is going  on :D  However as i think about it i realize just how much my heavenly father is helping me.  He is helping me learn portugese.  and it is not going as fast as i want it to, so he is helping me be patient through the holy ghost.  There are days when everything around me seems to be insane and running into the ground and i feel peaceful inside.  Calm, and confident that everything will turn out fine.  It is just all the more proof to me that heavenly father knows us personally and what we need.
  My thoughts have been drifting to my anscestors latley.  When I have free time, (as i try to fall asleep) my thoughts are often wondering about my anscestors.  Who where they, were did they live, and where did my name come from.  Where did it originate.  It is so interesting!  So much curiosity.  However then i remember that right now i have a resposibility to watch after the living, and after my time for that is over, i can once again turn my thoughts to the dead.  Those of you not on missions i have a simple questions for you.  How did your last names come to be?  You may know it started in europe, but how?  Was it a reward for heroic deeds, does it have special meanings?  I challenge you to find out, and if you arnt excatally sure, then the challenge goes to you to.  Make sure.  Find out for certain, and for yourself.
  The people here are so amazing.  So freindly and kind.  I love them all!

FYI letters are taking about 1 1/2 weeks to get to Elder Darke.  They say that packages take up to 3 weeks.  We sent our Christmas package out today.  Thanks to everyone that participated.  I'm sure that Elder Darke will love it! Sending love in a box isn't that easy to do, but I think we managed pretty good.
Melanie (Mom)