Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One crazy child

Hello family! It was good to hear about how things are going for all of you. I love the stories and updates. Oh, by the way, all of my pictures from the MTC and my first transfer got wiped from my camera, so that's why you haven't seen pictures yet.

A lot has happened this week and it has been great. The Lord is really blessing us here. We had a goal to focus on our member present lessons and finding new investigators, so we worked really hard to achieve our goals. And through the blessing of the Lord we were able to do so. We had great lessons with our members and now Sara, who we were about to drop, because of the members, is going to church and every youth activity, as well as reading the Book of Mormon every day and wanting to meet with us. It has been a miracle and I am so excited for her. She needed friends in a bad way and the youth in this ward have really taken to her. I am so grateful for them.

On Sunday we were focusing on finding new investigators and so we had set up appointments with a lot of people who were potential investigators. So we went and taught João and Denise, and Denise was NOT excited about us being there. We had knocked into João last transfer. But throughout the lesson, she began listening more and more intently and was really excited about the Book of Mormon. So that was great. I could really see the Spirit softening her heart toward the message of the Restoration.

That night, everything had fallen through, as happens quite often, and so we were walking to try and teach a reference, who was not answering the phone. Then I had the thought that we needed to go teach Suali, so we turned around and went there. I thought that we would not be able to make our goal, but I am here on the Lord's errand and so I must do His work His way. So we went there and met William, who is renting a room from Suali and her husband. He came in during the middle of the lesson and was messing around in the kitchen very quietly, Suali was reading a verse in the Book of Mormon and I really felt like we needed to invite him to listen. So I did and he was so interested and was applying the scripture in his life (Helaman 5:12) and relating it to BIble stories. I felt like I was talking to a member by what he was saying. They got the address to the Church and, fortunately, Suali already had two copies of the Book of Mormon, so she was going to give one to William. He is very ready to hear this message.

Then Monday we were walking around and everything had fallen through. I kept thinking about this market here called Fly. We had gone there a month ago or so and talked to a cashier there. I couldn't get it out of my mind because I had had a dream the night before that we were there. I thought it was really weird, but I couldn't get it off of my mind. So we went to Fly and met Kleide. She is another cashier from Brasil whose brother is a member. She brought up the church and got the address and promised about 12 times that she was coming and for us to wait for her at the entrance. We taught her some of what we believe and she talked about how she needs church in her life and how unhappy she is right now. I am so excited to see her at church. She is so ready and I know that the Lord really wanted us to talk to her.

I am so grateful for the blessings that have been poured out on us here. The Lord is really taking me by the hand here. I cannot believe it. I know that I cannot do this on my own and am so grateful that He is here with me.

So funny story: Saturday, everything had fallen through again, so we were getting a little treat. We went to go get a chocolate crescent at a little store in Arrentela. As we were walking there this little group of kids was playing. One was on a plastic tricycle and started to beeline it towards us. He ran over Irmã Johnson's foot and kept following us. So we brushed it off and got our crescents. Then we went back to the park, as it is the only place to sit down there. So we ate our crescents and this kid came up and kicked me in the shin. Don't worry, he was only four so it didn't really hurt. Then he started wrestling his older cousins to the ground, pulling on their ears. He then came up and tried to steal my soda. Fortunately, the cat-like reflexes that Dad instilled in me by the handslapping game came in handy and I succeeded in guarding my soda. We finished up our crescents and went on our way. We went up some stairs and the little boy followed us there as well. I was still thinking, oh what a cute little boy just playing with his cousins. Then, out of nowhere, he came flying up another flight of stairs and latched himself on to me. I was thinking, oh, he wants a hug, okay, well I can get him off of me. Then he grabbed my arm and bit me. That's right. He bit me. Luckily, he did not bite that hard and it was no problem and his bigger cousin came up pulled him off of me. The life of a missionary is full of craziness.

Life is good here and I am learning a lot. I love you all and hope that you continue strong in the gospel! Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Target Practice

Hello family! It was so good to hear from you and to see how everyone is doing. I am glad that the piano turned out. I am actually using my piano skills now too. I thought that would make you proud, Mom. I have to play for the Primary, so they gave me a piece to practice and I will be playing with them on Sunday. I have improved rapidly with practice. It's been nice to be doing something musical again.

This has been a good week so far. Last week was really hard, but the light at the end of the tunnel was zone conference. And it was amazing! We always have to prepare two talks and the topics were knowledge and the Atonement. I LOVED preparing my talks. Again, my companion was asked to speak. What can I say, I have the touch. President talked about the Atonement and throughout this transfer I have really started to see the Atonement becoming real in my life. More real than it has ever been in the past. I find myself relying on Christ, rather than on myself. I know that it is through Him that we can overcome all things and do all that we need to. The missionaries going home have the chance to give their "last testimonies," which really end up being words of advice, lessons learned and testimonies. My zone leader, Elder Hawkins, is going home, "dying," this transfer and so he gave his last testimony. It was weird to hear that because I am just beginning and he is ending. I could see just how short the time is here that I have and how I must make the most of it.

Saturday was soooo funny. Wow. By 1:00pm our entire day had fallen through and thus started the back-up plan. Wow. I had to figure everything out and we probably went through plans A-Z three times over. However, a series of funny events took place that made the day better. First, everything fell through so quickly. Then we got lost (my bad!). Then a random guy stopped his car in the middle of the road to talk to us and tell us that we were very pretty but that he didn't like President Bush. Seriously, he stopped his car in the middle of the road, just to say that? People are really funny. Then a drunk guy stopped us and wanted our number. We happily gave him a pass-along card with the office number on it. He kept turning the card over so it was upside down and trying to read it. Silly people. We admonished him to stop drinking and went on our way. A little later on in the day I pulled up the flap on my bag (I've downsized to John's little bag, which is perfect, thank you!) and felt something wet on my arm. Lo and behold, a bird had pooped on me and by some miracle, it only landed on my bag. The hits just kept on coming. But it made for a funny day. NOTHING worked out that day until that evening when we taught Deolande and gave her a Book of Mormon. That was great.

A theme/focus of this transfer is using members. Seriously, they make all the difference for the investigator. So Sunday I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of using the members and all the planning that it required, when suddenly church ended and I had set up a bunch of teaching appointments with members. It was only later, when I thought about it, that I realized how easy it had been and how the Lord had really helped me and held my hand along that process.

Yesterday we realized these lessons with members and they were AMAZING!!! The members were so great at friendshipping the investigator and helping them be comfortable. It was such a blessing. The lessons were 10X better because the member was helping with the teaching, relating with their own lives and helping with everything. Please talk to the missionaries in your wards and see if you can help them with teaching and fellowshipping. It will help them out so much.

Monday we had a district meeting with the zone leaders. I was in charge of the language lesson (again). I think I may be in charge of the language lessons in district meetings my whole mission. I have already done it about half of the meetings we've had. And I guess Elder Hawkins liked the lesson last transfer and asked me again. So this time I created a game! Let's make learning fun! So I made them practice giving directions and judged them on their creativity. They were all hopping around and being silly, while still learning.

That day Elder Smith was on a division here with Elder Holmes. The four of us went to the home of Humberto and Maria de Luz. They have two kids, Italo and Ingrid, who are SOOO cute! They are in the youth program. This family has had a lot of inactivity problems, so both sets of missioanries are working with them. We had a BLAST at their house. I love this family so much. They are Brazilian and they love that I love Brazil. Plus their accents are soooo cute! We played games, ate great food and laughed a lot. Elder Smith accidentally put on WAY WAY WAY too much piri piri sauce on his spaghetti. Whoops! His mouth was on fire and there was nothing he could really do about it. So what did the other three of us do? Of course, we put on some piri piri sauce on our food just to see how hot it was. I only put on three drops and it BURNED. Woah dang! It's fun for me to be around the elders. I feel like I have a bunch of little brothers.

This week I get to go to the office to work on renewing my visa. I get to see all of my elders from the MTC!! YAY! I'm super excited to see them and talk to them again.

Things are going well here. I know that the Lord is really taking me by the hand with the work here. There is no way that I, being as inexperienced and un-fluent in Portuguese as I still am, could be doing all that I am right now. I am not alone in the work I am doing here. He is right here beside me, as He is with all of you in whatsoever you are endeavoring to do. I love you all! Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Divisions, Street Meeting and Getting Lost

Hello family! It was so great to be able to talk to all of you at the same time! YAY! I was reminded of when we were able to do sealings together. What a blessing modern technology is. Look I get to email on my mission!

Things are going well here in "Seixal" (I've only actually been to Seixal twice since I've been here). We are still searching out for people to teach and continuing to help those we are teaching progress. It's a process. Fredy still wants to be baptized, but he hasn't been coming to church, so he probably won't be able to be baptized on the 31st, but we will keep working with him to help him prepare for baptism. We haven't been able to meet with Marcelo, but he has been reading from the Book of Mormon, which is a great sign of progress with him. Alzira has been coming to church as well the past couple of weeks with her daughter Marisa. I sat by them at church and Marisa was trying so hard to be good, so I ended up drawing with her and learning lots of new words. She seemed to appreciate the time I took with her.

Kelson and Ana are doing well. Kelson understands the gospel and the scriptures so well for someone who has been a member for only three months! He's amazing and has the best attitude about life. The life of an imigrant is not an easy one here, but he is always so happy and smiley and asks us what he can do for us. Ana is amazing as always, but is not looking forward to moving to England next Sunday. I will miss her, but I know that Pedro will take good care to nurture her in the gospel there.

I have found that I am working with a lot of less active women here over the past couple of weeks. I love visiting them and showing them the love i have for them. I am blessed with great love and compassion for them and I feel that one reason that I am here inthe Seixal area is for them. To nurture and bring them back to the fold.

Last week we did a division with the irmas in Almada. I went down to Almada with Irma Rasmussen and Irma Johnson stayed here and went with Irma Marinho. I had a great time on the division. I loved working in a different area and getting to know new people. Irma Rasmussen is great and kept me laughing. She is also a great cook, though her garlic biscuits were not my favorite thing...We're planning on doing another division this transfer with the irmas in Setúbal with Irma Kava and Irma Vea, who are actually cousins.

Monday Irma Johnson wasn't feeling well, so we stayed in most of the day. I got a lot of reading done and I felt like I was back at the MTC.

Yesterday was a day of getting lost. My goodness. Totally all my fault. I am the one who is supposed to know the area, but I kept taking us the long way to get everywhere. We probably walked a few miles extra because I kept taking the roundabout way there. We then found out that the zone was doing a street meeting down in Cacilhas, so we went down there with them and that was so fun! We did street contacts and talked about how important family is and how we can do family history.

So as an irma I tend to talk more to women on the streets. I just feel more comfortable with them and this is why. So on Sunday I contacted this guy who looked nice and receptive, which he was, but I think he was just more curious about the fact that I was female and American than the gospel. He kept inching closer when he was talking and I kept inching further and further back. We said goodbye and I put a little X by his contact information. Yesterday at the street meeting Irma Rasmussen and I contacted this guy from Senegal. We ended up speaking to him in English because his Portuguese wasn't very good. We talked to him about families in the gospel and then he asked if we had boyfriends. To which we replied, why yes we do. So family, in case you didn't know it. I have a boyfriend back in the States waiting to marry me when I get home. Oh the funny life of a sister missionary!

Yesterday I got told I was not going to be saved for the first time! We got into the house of this woman and we taught her the first lesson, with a LOT of interruptions on her part about her opinions about other religions, which were not favorable. Apparently, she didn't really like ours either. One thing is for sure, I walked away from that experience with a stronger testimony about the priesthood and the blessing that it is for all of us.

Life is good here. I am finding myself learning so much every day and I know that through striving to do my best, I will be able to do this work through the Lord, who is the source of all strength. We can do all things through Him. I know that the trials we have are for us to grow and to learn and that the Lord qualifies us through them. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!