Monday, January 25, 2016

Todo o coração, poder, mente e força

This week has been crazy full of miracles! Sister Richards and I decided to make this the best transfer of all time and we began with a goal to purify our lives by being as obedient as possible in ALL the little things and its been making a big difference. Fasting and prayer and literally giving our absolute best to the work is so worth it! I'm learning that giving 99.9% of myself isn't enough, the Lord requires 100% ALL the time. My testimony of repentance is growing, but not just this week, its been growing my whole mission. This week we had a neat training with all the missionaries around the world. We watched it broadcasted live in our church in Parnaíba with our district and all the speakers focused on the doctrine of Christ and parts of Preach My Gospel. It was great and I'm doing my best to always apply the doctrine of Christ. There is no limit on how much we can bear our testimonies of faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Good stuff. :)
The biggest miracle of the week is an amazing family we are teaching: Sara and Rafael and their cute 3 year old son Nicolas. We found them on Tuesday when our last appointment of the night fell through. We knocked on the door of the investigator we were going to visit and when nobody answered I looked and Sister Richards and asked "Okay, which door are we going to knock on next?" She said that she wanted to visit the house across the street so we went and rang the doorbell. A lady asked who it was and we replied cheerfully "Sisteres!" To our suprise she opened the door and without hesitating asked "Would you like to come in?" Um yes. Of course. We are missionaries! hahaha We went inside and started chatting with her, Sara. We found out that her sister is a member of the Church in another city and that Sara has not one but TWO copies of the Book of Mormon, one in Portuguese and one in Spanish because she was studying Spanish. We talked about the Family Proclamation and the Gospel blessing our families and left Alma 32 for her to read, marking a next visit for Thursday. We asked if her husband would be there too and she said "Probably, but he is never interested in these kinds of visits. It would take a miracle to make him stay." Well Sara, we believe in miracles! :) Thursday came and I felt prompted to take the Restoration DVD to watch with another investigator. When we went to visit Sara the thought popped into my mind to watch the Restoration with them and she was really excited about it. So we taught the first part of the Restoration and then watched the DVD. And guess who stayed for the WHOLE LESSON? Her husband, Rafael. He was super excited and they had lots of questions. After that we have been teaching them every day and they are a golden family! They read all of the chapters and pamflets (Literal quote from Sara "I read the chapter 4 times in Portuguese and once in Spanish to make sure I understood it all") They came to church yesterday and liked it, they even helped out in Primary! They have been telling us of the miracles that have been happening since our visits. The day we found Sara she had been praying desperately for God to send someone something anything and a bit later we knocked on their door. Sara said that Rafael never sits for visits and he is just as excited as she is, something that she calls a big miracle. Nicolas, who never stays in church lessons with the kids, loved primary and stayed the whole time. Soooo.... I'm quite excited to see the results with this great family. :)
Our other investigators are progressing very much too! Nicole is getting baptized this Saturday and she is very excited. Genesio (the man with one leg) came this week to church as well (bringing his cousin who is visiting from São Paulo) and has a baptismal date for February 6. 
Church yesterday was a BIG miracle too. I broke my record for the most investigators in sacrament meeting (something that has always been hard for me) with nine investigators and the branch members were overjoyed that there were 63 people in sacrament meeting! This is the branch that never had more than 35 when I got here a few months ago. Truly the Lord is performing MIRACLES in Parnaíba. It is an incredible privilege to be working in this wonderful part of the vineyard. 
Cute story of the week: yesterday we had lunch with Bia and José, our recent converts. Emanuele, Bia's 15 month old daughter, learned a new word (her 4th word): SISTER! :D It was super adorable to see her running around exclaiming "Sister! Sister!" 
Funny story of the week: yesterday in sacrament meeting, President Santos gave a wonderful talk about becoming like Christ and relying in Him. He asked a rhetorical question without waiting for an answer "What would Christ do?" And someone (probably an investigator) exclaimed "O certo!" (The right thing!) :) It was quite funny.
Sister Richards and I also got to teach the youth Sunday School class very last minute and it was an awesome lesson about teaching by the Spirit. The youth in our branch are super great!
To finish up I want to share two awesome scriptures I found this morning while studying the New Testament (seriously, the Bible is super great). Romans 8:24-25 and Romans 8:37-39. Look them up, they are wonderful!
I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ. For His infinite Atonement that enables us to change and become better each and every moment. I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and loves His children!
Have an amazing week! Count the miracles you see!
Sister Knapp

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mais uma em PARNAIBA!

Olá! Greetings from rainy Parnaíba!
Transfers are today and we anxiously waited (rather an understatement) to receive the phone call from our district leader this morning, but the good news arrived and Sister Richards and I are staying another transfer together in Parnaíba! And so are the other 4 sisters from branch 2!!!! We are SUPER excited and grateful to continue the wonderful work here! Everyone likes to remind me that now I only have two transfers (and one agonizing phone call to tell of the transfer) left but.... I prefer not to dwell on that matter. Maybe I'll just stay in Parnaíba forever! ;)
This week I would like to share a funny story based on motorcycles. Motorcycles here are pretty hilarious due to the fact that they are the most popular transport and are at times used in interesting ways. Here are some that Sister Richards and I have observed these past few weeks: used to transport farm animals (chickens, goats, pigs and possibly others), pipes (a giant pipe that Sister Richards exclaimed "I could fit in that!" and another pipe about 4 times the length of the motorcycle), trees (seriously, we have seen at least 3 motorcycles dragging big tree branches), all of the groceries, entire families (like at least 4 people), and women who ride sidesaddle. I'll keep you updated if we see any more interesting things on motorcyles. :)
Another funny story is this last week we got lost (you would think that at this point of 3 transfers here I would not have this story but... our area is really big!) We were walking to lunch in an area very far away from where we usually work (aka near the church) and missed the turn. Our 15 minute walk turned into an hour and we saw interesting sights (like a field that had once been a swamp and a guy sleeping under a tree in the middle of nowhere) and at one point thought we had walked to Miami because there were some reeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaally fancy houses, including one that Sister RIchards and I stopped in front of simultaniously and just looked in awe at our Brazil dream house. Adventures!
Another adventure was that yesterday in branch council we were asked last minute to speak in church. We prepared our talks super fast and also last minute decided to sing a duet for the special musical number. We spoke about temples and sang Come Come Ye Saints (including one verse in English). It was really neat, and sacrament meeting was very spiritual. We started with literally 15 people there but then ended with 47! A lot of people cried too, including our investigator Genesio.
And about our wonderful investigators... They are progressing so much! Genesio (the one without the leg I talked about last week) came to church again and LOVED it. He loves our visits and understands very well everything that we teach!
And Nicole, the friend of a young woman, Francisca, is progressing a ton too! She has a baptismal date for January 30 and this week when she prayed about the Restoration she said that she felt so good "It was incredible, much better than I imagined!" :) She's changing so much, she has a new light in her eyes and its because of the gospel"
Time is up, theyre closing the lanhouse, but I just wanted to end with how grateful I am to be serving here in Parnaíba and seeing so many miracles!
have a great week!
Sister Knapp

Monday, January 11, 2016

Novos e novos milagres!

This week has been more full of giant miracles than funny stories, so I will begin with the funny stories:
Last Monday we had an awesome family home evening with Bia and Jose and Iasmin (member). We talked about the plan of salvation and started with the premortal life in the kitchen, the when we talked about our life on earth in the dining room, and then moved to the living room and talked about life after death. It was really cool because of the doorways between the rooms that helped us imagine the lesson better. It was pretty legit. Okay the funny part, while we were teaching a bat flew in. Again. I thought I was done with the bat adventures! Here's the cool part though, I wasnt even freaked out, we just continued teaching like normal even though the bat missed flying into my head by like 4 inches. Focus brings blessings! :)
The climate here has also began to change, its cooler now with less wind and its raining almost every day. This means that its a lot more humid and stuffy and almost a little chilly (like the other day I thought about putting on a cardigan. WHAT. In the Brasil Teresina mission? haha!) And the water is the temperature of Antarctica so Ive gotten even better at fast showers. :) Also the other day the lights went out and we planned by candlelight and it hit me that things like freezing showers and no electricity and gas stoves are so normal to me now... Its gonna be weird coming home to electric stoves and water heaters....
Remember the story about Pedro's mom who talks during the prayers? She's progressing so much! We went to teach Pedro this week and she said "Girls, I have a surprise for you: I read in the Book of Mormon!" She read the whole introduction and testimonies and we didnt even challenge her to read! WOW! We are going to try and focus more on her too and see if she is interested. :)
We have a new investigator named Camila who is pretty cool. She was a reference from Iasmin and is coming to the activities and came to church yesterday! Excited to see how it goes teaching her, references and working with members are THE BEST.
Marcos Antonio and his family werent baptized this week because they were suddenly transfered to another town about 5 hours away from the nearest branch so.... We are going to see what happens. All is in the Lords hands and timing, and I know that their family is one day going to have another opportunity to accept baptism.
Now for the big miracles of the week: 
Julia - There's this house that is near the church (like a block away) that we would always pass and I would always feel like I needed to go there but the timing never felt right. On Thursday we were walking by and I said to Sister Richards "Lets go to this house." Before I had even said anything though she had already stopped. So we rang the doorbell and a woman appeared and when we introduced ourselves she asked "Would you like to come in?" Um yes, we are missionaries so of course! :) We went inside and this woman, Julia, showed us TONS of pictures including the only picture she has of her father, who passed away when she was 12. As she talked about him and read the note he had written on the back of the picture she began to cry.We were able to begin teaching about the plan of salvation and eternal families and set up a return appointment. A few days later when we went she told us that she had loved the plan of salvation pamphlet and after she read about it she prayed and felt really good and then started to wonder if she could be forgiven for her sins. We read Isaiah 1:18 and then taught the Restoration. It was very spiritual and Im sure we are going to continue seeing miracles teaching her and her family!
Another neat family that we were guided to is Francisco and Eliane, who live on the same street as our branch president. We felt prompted to knock on their door on Friday and their daughter in law, Dalila, let us in. We introduced ourselves and told them that we pray every day for God to lead us to the families He is preparing to receive us and we felt like we needed to knock on their door. They LOVED that and we were about to teach them about the Restoration. As we taught about the Book of Mormon, Dalila got up and went to the other room and returned with A BOOK OF MORMON. Heres the cool story: She found the book three years ago because a neighbor threw it out. She saw it and felt that it was special and so she took it inside and wrote in the inside cover "This bible belongs to the family of..." Saturday we were able to teach them about the plan of salvation and yesterday they came to church!!! They liked it and tonight we are going to have a family home evening with them!!! Eliane told us yesterday that they know that we were sent by God and they have already been seeing blessings in their family. 
Yesterday in church we had gospel principles in another room because the classroom we usually use couldnt fit all of the investigators and recent converts! WOOHOO!
So on Tuesday we were contacting people in the streets when we passed a man sitting outside his house. We starting talking to this man, Genesio, and invited him to church. He said that he knew it was an important invitation but he didnt seem very interested and we werent able to return this past week. Yesterday at church, we were in the last class when a brother came in and said "Sisters, theres an invistigator asking for you." We went outside and it was GENESIO! Heres the coolest part: he is a 60 year old man who came to churh on a moto-taxi (yes, they have motorcycle taxis here haha) and he is missing one of his legs. Which just goes to show that if you really are intersted in coming to church you can do it! He only had 30 minutes of Elders Quorum to attend but he loved it and is excited to learn more about the gospel and come again next week. His faith is a big example to me and it was a good lesson about not judging people based on first impressions. 
Have a wonderful week!
Sister Knapp

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ano Novo!

Feliz ano novo!
We had many adventures this week, our less actives are progressing a lot, and we are continuing to prepare Marcos Antonio and his family for baptism!
Stories: there was a day this week where little kids said so many funny things to us. I will share my two favorites:
An investigators daughter had Disney princesses on her shirt. when I asked her who her favorite princess was she replied "My mom!" CUTE. Later on, we (Sister Richards, a member named JaneKathleen and I) were walking down the street and a bunch of little kids playing in a doorway yelled to us "EI! Mulheres lindas!" (Hey! Pretty ladies!) haha We waved at them and they giggled a lot. 
Now for more funny stories of the week:
We've had a couple of lessons with Mario (a less active) where the Book of Mormon has a message just for Sister RIchards and I and we have to fight hard not to laugh as we read with Mario. The first time was when Sister RIchards' ankles were really swollen and we read in 1 Nephi where Laman and Lemuel tied up Nephi and when they let him go he said "And behold my ankles were exceedingly sore and swollen" :) This week we had a day where we were SO TIRED and trying so hard not to snooze as we read. The verse came up saying "Awake from the deep sleep" :) Seriously, I love the Book of Mormon!
We also had a lesson with a less active who literally spoke for 40 minutes. No breaks. Sister Richards nicknamed him Fourty Minute Francisco. It was a struggle to share a scripture and then to end the lesson, but it made for a funny story and I imagine he enjoyed the visit!
We also had a multi branch talent show and us 6 sisters did a funny skit and then Sister RIchards and I did a flute piano duet of How Great Thou Art. It was so neat, we are going to play another piece in our zone conference tomorrow. It was a true miracle to find a flute in Parnaíba for her to use, but through a friend of our new investigator we managed! 
We spent New Years Eve and New Years working normal, with tender mercies because it was SO HARD to find people to teach (everyone goes to the beach). But Heavenly Father heard our prayers and guided us to people and on New Years Eve we managed to teach 8 lessons! Woohoo! 
Now time for my favorite story of the week entitled Sister Power:
So it was New Years Eve, and Sister Richards and I were walking down the street after another house of nobody home and having prayed for an opportunity to find someone to teach. We saw an elderly man (okay, elderly is an understatement, he seriously was SUPER old, like his skin was almost purple and falling off) who was demolishing a cement-brick wall ( about two feet high) around a tree in front of his house. We asked him if we could help (like five times because he couldnt hear us) and he replied "No no, this work isnt for girls. This is only work for men." But if an old guy can take down a cement wall, Sister Missionaries can too! He finally agreed to let us help him and after a few minutes of like zero progress from us he said "I told you you couldnt do it. This is no work for girls." When he started wacking the wall with the mallet again I realized I had just been doing it wrong! I mean, Id never knocked down a wall before so.... We convinced him to let us try again and that wall was no match for us! I think it made for a funny sight: two American girls in skirts and an elderly man in the hot afternoon sun demolishing part of his front yard. It was quite the adventure and in the end this man, Adonias, looked at us with newfound respect, offered us water, and we were able to teach him the Plan of Salvation. :)
My thought for the week comes from a Liahona I was studying this morning. I doint remember which one it was, but a quote from President Benson really called my attention. He said something along the lines of when we do our best in teaching, the Spirit magnifies our callings and talents and we accomplish things far beyond our natural abilities, which brings no greater joy. I know that this is true! I am so grateful for the Spirit because I know that when I bear my testimony and do my best, Heavenly Father can work miracles. I love this gospel and am so grateful for the privilege to be serving in Parnaíba!
Have a great week!
Sister Knapp