Monday, November 30, 2015
I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! This week was full of funny stories and service and work as usual! As far as Thanksgiving, we didn't do anything really different since its not a big thing here, we mostly just invited those we talked to to think a bit more about all of the blessings that Heavenly Father gives us. :)
Now for the funny stories (get ready, there are quite a few this week):
Now for the funny stories (get ready, there are quite a few this week):
beginning on Monday, we got home from the lanhouse and errands in the center and we were only able to work an hour later because Sister Reis got locked in the bathroom. The doorknob broke on the inside and we could not open the door! We had to call the landlord who had to call a neighbor but we finally got the door opened and had a good laugh :)
Another funny story: Pedro, a less active member we are reading the Book of Mormon with, was looking through the pictures in the front and he saw the picture of Joseph Smith and said "Hey! He looks like Nicholas Cage!" :)
Also, there's this old taxi driver in Parnaíba who always stops at bus stops and takes people for about the same price as the bus. He always tries to raise the price and he's really funny because any time Sister Reis or I laugh (which is often because we both like laughing) he always squints suspiciously and says (this is really bad grammar) "Tu ta mangando de eu??" (about the equivalent of "You is pocking fun at I?")
The other day we were waiting at a bus stop and we started talking to an older man. He thought it was the neatest thing that I was American and he looked at my name tag and said "Seester.... Katchy-Patchy..." Just when I'd thought after a year of being in Brazil I had heard all of the varations of "Knapp" :)
This week we had a dessert contest with Ramo 1 and Ramo 2. Sister Reis and I made a peach mousse which is like the easiest dessert on planet earth. Its two boxes of creme de leite (cream) and a box of leite condensado (sweetened condensed milk) and a packet of juice powder (like Tang) that you just throw in the blender for a few minutes and then in the fridge. While I was hurriedly making the dessert the spoon fell in and kind of caused a small explosion of mousse-ness but I cleaned it up and the mousse turned out great. Enough that lots of people commented how delicious it was and that they wanted the recipe. :)
Have you heard of the book "The Hound of the Baskervilles"? Its a Sherlock Holmes book about a giant dog of death that the whole town is afraid of. Well I found the dog... It belongs to our branch president and her name is Caboca. Im not afraid of dogs, but Im terrified of this one because she hates all people who are not Presidente Rocha, his wife or their kids. Seroiusly, she runs to the gate barking and jumping with a murderous look in her eyes... Anyway, I think she's finally starting to get used to Sister Reis and I because yesterday I called out "Caboca" and she didnt run trying to kill me. Progress! :)
Last funny story and also a miracle: we are teaching this really great family: Daniel and Kelma and their two kids. Every time (literally every time) we teach them, some random neighbor wanders into their house and sticks around for like 5 minutes of the lesson and then leaves. Its pretty funny and in a few weeks I think we will have taught every person on that street :)
We've been able to teach quite a bit this week about faith and its made me think about faith and works. I read a neat scripture yesterday in James 1:22 "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." I quite liked this scripture because true faith is not just saying "I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior". We need to ACT on those feelings of faith and love towards Him. As we keep the commandments and follow His teachings and share our testimonies with others, we truly are being doers also. This strengthens our faith and allows us to receive even more blessings!
Have a wonderful week!
Monday, November 23, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving this week! There are so many things to be grateful for! Including that BIA AND JOSÈ WERE BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!!! It was so neat, they were so happy and grateful for the Atonement and the opportunity to make this sacred covenant with God. I asked Bia how she felt after she was baptized and she said "Its like there was a giant black cloud covering my heart, and its completely gone now. I feel so light!"
Sister Robins and Sister Lockhart also had a baptism on saturday and us four sang a special musical number "Sou Um Filho De Deus" (I Am A Child of God, one of Bia and José's favorites).
Another neat miracle of the week was on a day where literally all of our appointments but one fell through, we were walking past a house we've walked past lots of times and felt to knock there. So we did, and a 15 year old boy answered the door. We talked a bit about the Church and the restoration and asked if we could come another day and teach his family, and just as we were about to leave, his family came home. He introduced us to them and his mom, Kelma, invited us in. We shared the message of the Restoration and they really liked it! We were able to teach them a few more times during the week and they progress more and more each day. Its kind of hard to find FAMILIES who are interested in listening and who keep commitments. And Daniel and Kelma and their kids are great! Yesterday we had a lesson with a member and read the Family Proclamation and ended kneeling in prayer, said by Daniel (the father). He is a bit shy, so it was a big step. Teaching families that they can be together forever is so neat!
Another big miracle is another couple we are teaching: Jorge and Iracema. Jorge was married before and has three children who live in São Paulo who SERVED MISSIONS. When we met Jorge in the street and asked him if he had heard about the church and he told us that we about died. haha Jorge and Iracema are super funny and we get along really well. The miracles are happening bit by bit, with the biggest miracle being our last lesson. We always invite Jorge to pray and he always refuses, but when we finished our lesson and invted him to pray, HE DID. Seriously, its so neat to see how little by little, Heavenly Father softens the hearts of His children and they are willing to hear the message of the restoration!
Its really interesting to see people fall into different categories too, usually those who let us in and accept the invitation to read and pray and those who slam the door in our faces. It makes me realize how important the missionary calling is that we INVITE others to come unto Christ. Something that my mission president always says is that we already have the "no" if we dont talk to others about the gospel. But when we do talk and invite, we have the opportunity to receive a "yes" :) Being a missionary isnt necessarily knocking on doors, it can be as simple as a smile or an invite to watch a Mormon Message video or a hug. And being a missionary is THE BEST!
I am so grateful for the privilege it is to wear a black name tag, to be able to represent my Savior and His Church. I am grateful for the Restored gospel, for God loving us so much to call a prophet in these latter days to bring His truth and priesthood power back to the earth. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and the Bible, for eternal families, and for the opportunity to pray and ask God about whatever doubt or difficulty we have. I know He hears and answers our prayers!
Have a wonderful week and enjoy counting your blessings!
Monday, November 16, 2015
This week was great, as usual! Sister Reis and I have the habit of asking everyone we talk to what we can do to help them, and this week we had the opportunity to do a small service project! We met a sweet widow named Graça and we helped her clean her house and wash and sort her laundry. It was great, she told us stories about the giant chameleon who lives in her yard and we learned some interesting "facts": perfume scares away cockroaches, if you have a runny nose you can eat three acerolas (fruits here kinda sorta similar to cherries) and you will be better, crochet is super important to life, and much more. :) It strengthened my testimony that any day can become much much better when we forget ourselves and serve others! Also a cute primary boy asked us to pray for his two front teeth to come soon, and after we prayed he thanked us and said that now he knew they wouldn't take too long. :)
Another miracle of the week was that we were able to find and teach quite a few families. In a few of the cases, THEY called out to us and asked us to share our message, which of course we gladly did! One of these families, N and E, have started reading the Book of Mormon, but they told us they weren' t too interested. However, to our wonderful surprise, they came to church yesterday and loved it!!! We are also teaching their neighbor, D, a sweet older lady who read up to 1 Nephi 5 between our first and second visit and when we got to her house she said "I love this book!" Funny story about her and the Book of Mormon: when we gave her a copy she said "I' m going to open it up and whatever I open to is what the Mãe Rainha (Mother Queen - Mary) wants me to read" She opened up to Alma 17: the chapter about Ammon and the Lamanite arms. :)
B and J are doing great, they finished reading 1 Nephi yesterday! WOOHOO! Their baptism is this Saturday and we are super excited! Its been so neat to see their testimonies grow and how much the gospel blesses them! Yesterday they gave us a ride home and we sang primary songs together! :)
Yesterday was branch conference and Sister Reis, Sister Lockhart, Sister Robins and I sang a special musical number "Lord I Would Follow Thee" and it was really spiritual. :) The thought I' d like to share this week comes from President Santos' (district president) talk. He taught about the importance of being a disciple of Christ rather than just a member of the Church. A member needs to be visited and loved, while a disciple visits and loves, regardless of whether or not they receive the same. When we are disciples of Christ, we do what He would do and be who He would have us be.
Have a wonderful week!
Monday, November 9, 2015
Oi a todos!
Now that its after Halloween, the Christmas preparations are beginning! We've made some paper snowflakes (Sister Lockhart is the Champion snowflake maker) and hung them in our kitchen so its more winterlike because its too hot here for real snow. :)
Bat update: we believe they are trying to apologize for the bat-phobia they have made us develope through Peace offerings. Every morning we find nibbled cajá fruits on our little balcony (where the bats live in the rafters) that they drop. Every. Single. Morning. Thank you, bats.
This week we had na awesome Zone Conference that focused a lot on goals. We worked really hard to apply the things we learned and set more challenging goals and work our hardest to acheive them. As a result we greatly improved the number of lessons taught and new investigators we found. Woohoo! We're still having a bit of a hard time helping them progress and keep their commitments to read and pray sincerely and come to church, but Im sure that miracles are to come soon!
We had a big miracle yesterday: on Tuesday or so we were outside of na investigator's house when a guy on a motorcycle stopped and asked us for a "paper of our church". We gave him a Restoration pamphlet and invited him to church. He didnt give us his address and said that he was really busy with work and college but he said he'd try and come to church. Yesterday, as I was playing the opening hymn I kinda messed up because I looked to the door and got distracted because guess who showed up?! The motorcycle guy! He was only able to stay for sacrament meeting but he liked it and said he'd come the next week he could. Wow! Updates to come!
The thought this week comes from 1 Nephi 10:18. "For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him." We are Reading from the beginning of the Book of Mormon with B and J as well as a few less active members, so I was able to read 1 Nephi 10 a few times this week and this scriputre really stood out to me. I am so grateful that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He gave His Son to pay the price for us to repent and return. The price is paid, the path is set, we just have to walk it! I know that as we do our part and exercise our Faith in Christ and repent, keeping the commandments and our covenants, we will gain eternal life. I am so grateful for the privilegie it is to share this message and testify that the Gospel is restored! I know that God hears and answers our prayers because He does it for me on a daily basis. I know that The Book of Mormon is truly the word of God and that every single person who reads and prays with a sincere heart will know the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. What a great blessing!
Have a wonderful week!
Monday, November 2, 2015
This week was wonderful, which includes the best Halloween of my life! :) Sister Robins got a package with Halloween things the day before, so we decorated a bit! Our costumes were about as creative as we could get away with as missionaries: I was a joaninha (lady bug) with red, White, black and polkadots; Sister Reis was an onça (cheetah, I think I forgot the word in English...) with her print blouse, Sister Robins was a minion with yellow and navy; and Sister Lockhart was the most creative of us all, dressing as "pink lemonade" with a pink skirt and a blouse with lemons! :) It was quite fun! The best part of halloween though, was the present we received from an awesome Family in the Parnaíba 3rd Branch: they gave us a CARVED PUMPKIN! A for reals carved jack-o-lanterna! FULL OF CANDY!!!!! We about died. Sister Reis and I brought it home, took out the candy, and lit a candle and put it inside. A few minutes later, Sister Robins and Sister Lockhart came home and as they got to the door, before the could open it, I opened it slowly from behind and they gasped as they saw all the lights off and a glowing pumpkin in the middle of the darkness. It was pretty legit. :)
Okay, Halloween stories aside, this week was full of miracles with less active members!! Story: one day after lunch, we asked a sister from our branch if she knew who a certain less active brother was (he lived a few streets away). She said yes, but she warned us to be careful going there because his wife didnt like missionaries and had thrown water at past Elders. Sister Reis and I looked at each other and said "Its hot anyways, a bucket of water would be fine right now!" So we found the house and to our joy/dismay we did not receive a bucket of water thrown on us. Instead we found this brother, read about Faith in the Book of Mormon together, and he came to the branch activity this week AND church yesterday! And my favorite part: he bore his testimony about the importance of coming to church, how he had been away from church for 3 years and how he realized this week how importante the sacrament was and how as good as praying and readings scriptures are at home, we truly need to strengthen our spirits weekly by partaking of the sacrament in the Lord's house each Sabbath.
We also have a few other less actives who we are working with and are progressing so much! I love visiting my Brothers and sisters who for whatever reason are away from the Church and helping them remember the things they know are true!
Our awesome investigators, Bia and José, are progressing SO MUCH too! They have Strong testimonies about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration and they share them with their friends and families too! Yesterday as we finished our visit, Bia thanked in the closing prayer for HeavenlyFather having shown her that His true church was restored on the Earth and prayed for His help in quiting smoking. Seriously, they are having such amazing changes in their lives, all as part of applying the glorious message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Funny story: this story comes from Sister Robins and Sister Lockhart. THey were teaching their investigator, Sonia, and were talking about prayer and how we receive many blessings and answers as we pray. During the closing prayer, a neighbor showed up with a slice of cake and without saying a word, placed it in Sonia's hands and left. When they finished the prayer, Sister Robins meant to bear testimony and began saying "Now you have--" and realized what was in Sonia's hands "--CAKE!" Everyone laughed and Sonia said "I want to pray with you ALWAYS now!" :)
This weekend Sister Reis and I have been obsessed with the Primary song "The Family Is of God". We sing it 24/7 in English and Portuguese and it made me reflect a bit more on what a blessing it is toknow that through the Restored Gospel, we can be with our families forever! I love testifying of this truth and when people ask "Do you really think thats true? I can have my Family forever?" I exclaim "YES!" and then we talk about the plan of salvation and the importance of keeping the commandments to receive this great gift! Iknow that Families can be together forever!
Have a wonderful week!