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!