Wednesday, November 27, 2013

25 Nov 2013

Dearest Family and Friends!

It has been an amazing week! I forgot my journal so I am sure I will leave out some awesome things, but I will try my best to share what I remember.

Update on Wagner- he went from 15-20 cigarettes to 7, and when we went with him to church yesterday, he hadn´t smoked any, so at least up until noon (church gets out at 12) he was cigarette-free! We went to pick him up for church for the first time yesterday (it is a 20-30 minute walk there and back) and he was ready and waiting with a nice polo and new jeans he bought for church. He had expressed concern about not owning any nice clothes and we told him that the reason we dress up on Sunday is to give our best to the Lord and show respect, so he could wear the best clothes that he owned and know he was showing the Lord respect and love. He was all cleaned up, with combed hair and cologne and it was really touching to see his wiillingness to change and sacrifice. He has problems with hand coordination so he told us he was having trouble with his belt, so he had to walk all the way to the church until we could get the bishop to help him. It was amazing to see his faith and sacrifice. He shared during gospel doctrine that he believed in Joseph Smith and in the Book of Mormon. He comes from a different religion so whenever people pray he says his hallelujahs, truth, and amens, which makes me smile. I am not sure he realizes that when we pray the congregation just listens and participates in their hearts, so we will mention that with him, but its nice to know he wants to participate. 

We helped Irmã Gisela and Irmão João Arthur (wheelchair and health problems) clean their house, and Irmão João Arthur made bread for us while sitting down at the table with Gisela´s help getting the things together. The people here are so giving and so willing to make people feel welcome and wanted. 

There was one day this week that we had an awesome lunch with roast, fried potatoes, purple cabbage mayonnaise apple salad, rice and beans. After that, we went and visited a less active member, Nilsa, who is struggling to overcome hurt feelings from something a member said (side note-please never take offense and always remember that Christ´s church is perfect but the people are not, just as no one perfectly healthy goes to the doctor to get cured, no one perfectly spiritually healthy goes to church to be healed.) and she gave us cake and corn muffins. She is so giving and kind and has a wonderful heart. Then we went to visit a member who is struggling with depression and she gave us lemon cake and chocolate milk. I could barefly walk due to everyones loving generosity.

Another investigator, Claudio (husband of Shélem, a member who recently returned to church), bought new shoes and a white shirt and is coming to church every week! They live a 30 minute bus ride away and both work a ton, so it is hard to coordinate teaching appointments, but these next few weeks we are hoping to prepare him for baptism. He accepted to be baptized, we just have to help him along the way.

I made banana bread today without a recipe! No one here uses recipes so I decided to just go for it. It was, in my humble opinion, delicious. 

The Lord truly looks out for the needs of His children. This week we were blessed to be able to help meet the needs of one of our investigators. Nycieli is 11 years old and comes to church every week. She has been going for the last 6 years, but is waiting until she turns 12 to get baptized, we are not sure why yet. But anyway, we cleaned out our house and there were a bunch of clothes that missionaries left. We took them to Nycieli and her family and they were very gratful. That week, she had expressed that she felt kind of bad that she went to church and everyone was wearing skirts and she didn´t have one. When I saw her in the primary program wearing one of the skirts we brought, it made me so happy.

Oh, and the primary program was so lovely and adorable. I played the piano/organ and the kids were so sweet and touched many hearts when they sang and bore testimony. Aside from Amon falling out of his chair and a bunch of the kids crying during the practices because they weren´t chosen to say the closing prayer and they all wanted to, the program went without difficulty and was a wonderful experience. 

This week, I could definitely see the tender mercies of the Lord in the lives of all our investigators. "E eis, porém, que eu, Néfi, vos mostrarei que as ternas misericórdias do Senhor estão sobre todos aqueles que ele escolheu por causa de sua fé, para torná-los fortes com o poder de libertação." 1 NE1:20
Heavenly Father really is looking out for each of us. Like some emails I received this week said, if we look for it, we will definitely find the hand of the Lord in the details of our lives. I know that God loves us. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that through the atonement we can overcome any challenge or difficulty. 

Love you all!

Sister Smith

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

18 November 2013

I think its safe to say that we are all jealous Kieren went to the beach and enjoyed the sunshine. Well, at least I am. I think it will be strange for her to have Christmas when it is warm on the coast. It will also be her first Christmas away from home so if any of you have a moment these next few weeks think of something nice, or share a photo with her. Send her your family Christmas card, etc. I know she would love it. 

Dearest Family and Friends,

It´s been an awesome week! I am at São José do Norte again because we decided to go to the beach this time because it is so sunny and nice out (it was weird to hear that there has been some snow already back in the states)

Last thursday I got mail for the first time out in the field (it is all sent to the mission home and we only get it about once a month) Thanks for all your letters! Its bad to brag and I need to stay humble, but I got the most letters of anyone in my zone :). Not a big deal though. Special thanks to the Activity day girls! It was so fun to get those letters. 

Yesterday when we got to church, I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting. As missionaries, we always are supposed to have a talk prepared and I was kind of expecting it that morning so it wasn´t a huge surprise. It went really well I think. I spoke about the gifts from God that are freely available to us if only we ask and are obedient. He wants to bless us with protection, strength, and love (shown through the atonement see John 3:16-17) and all we have to do is listen, obey, and accept his gifts. 

Yesterday in church we had several investigators and a whole lot of less actives! We worked a lot this week with some less active members and had many of them come to church. We visited Ionice and her son Mateus this week and invited them to come back to church, and Ionice was super funny. She said she hadn´t had time that week to dye her hair and her roots were showing but that she would come anyway. And she did! 

In portuguese, you can add the ending -ão to some words and it means a bigger version of the thing, like amigo is friend and amigão is a super great friend. I can´t remember the grammatical term for that, but anyway. An orelhão is a little telephone booth thing shaped like a giant ear (orelha is ear). Also, one that I thought was funny was the word for coffin- caixão. It literally means the big box or the ultimate box (caixa).

A cool experience we had this week was teaching Wagner, an investigator we found as a street contact. He is the one I mentioned last week that we taught on the street in the rain. He was smoking when we found him, so we knew that might be an issue. We taught him about the restoration last week, and this week we taught him about the word of wisdom. He is super eager to hear the lessons and is always waiting for us. He said that he knows that God sent us to help guide him. We challenged him to live the word of wisdom and set a goal this week to go from smoking 15 cigarettes a day to 5, and he said that he would rather just stop entirely! He is so willing to make changes and even though it will be hard, I know he will be blessed. Please pray for him this week to have the strength to make those changes. 

Erik, Eduardo and Lucas all came to a young men´s activity this week. We had churrasco (super intense barbecue where the meat is on giant spears and stuff) with chicken and they played soccer and it was really fun. The young men are great and helping a lot with helping them feel included. 

At the member´s houses, we always share a spiritual thought and this week a couple of times I shared 2 Ne 31:10. I know that if we persevere to the end, we will be happy during the process and ultimately inherit eternal life and happiness. Sometimes it is hard to do all the things we know we should and sometimes it is hard to see how it will all work out, but that is when we have to exercise faith in Jesus Christ by doing the things we need to and repenting daily so that we can have the Holy Ghost to guide us. 

I love you all and love hearing from you! Thank you for your love and prayers. 


Sister Smith

Monday, November 11, 2013

11 November 2013

Dearest Family and Friends,

Hello! I am writing from São José do Norte, a little island off the shores of southern Brazil. It is a 20 minute bus ride and a 30 minute boat ride from my area. We are having a pday with a bunch of the missionaries from our zone. 

Yesterday it was raining so hard and we got completely soaked, but it was super fun and we were laughing the whole time because our umbrellas kept flipping inside out and pulling us around and stuff. Basically no one is on the streets during the rain, but we were really fortunate and got to teach a lesson to one of our investigators, Wagner. He lives alone so we aren´t supposed to go into his house, so we stood outside with our umbrellas and he stood in the doorway and we taught about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. He has accepted baptism, and we are really excited to teach him. He smokes, so we are going to have to work with him on stopping, but he is really receptive and kind and it was kind of miraculous that he let us teach him in the rain, because people here are pretty wary of the rain. Everyone stays inside and gets angry at the rain. It´s kind of funny. 

That afternoon, we also visited two less active members, Irmã Gisela and Irmão João Artur. They wish that they could come to church, but João Artur is confined to a wheelchair and has to get his blood replaced every couple days so he is really struggling healthwise and Gisela has to get up at 4:30 every morning to take him to the hospital. They are so charitable and loving. João Artur is really sad because he is unable to do his home teaching. Gisela gave me a capa de chuva (kind of like a thin raincoat) because all I had brought that day was a sweater and umbrella and with the wind you need basically full body protection. In their hearts, they want to do everything they can to help and serve the Lord. They are a great example of pure hearts. 

We had 5 investigators at church! Lucas, a 14 year old boy from the Bahía, has a lot of questions! He used to be a Jehovah´s Witness so he has studied a lot, but we are able to talk with him, answer his questions, and hopefully help him gain a testimony. He has a hard family situation, so he could use everyone´s prayers. This week, we will talk to his parents about letting him get baptized (he accepted baptism at FHE this week)

Erik and Eduard are the sons of a less active member. They came to church this sunday even though their mom didn´t go and are going to activities, but they are really really shy. They are super nice though. We are hoping to start teaching them this week and hoping that they are able to make a lot of friendships at the activities. 

It is funny because I have been asked if I am Italian and German, I think because a lot of people here have ancestry of immigrants from Italy or Germany. Someone said I kind of have an Italian accent, which I guess is a step closer to portuguese than an American accent haha. 

So the word for afro in portuguese is black power, said with a portuguese accent (blahck powah). We were at a member´s house for lunch and he was describing someone who had an afro and he kind of mimed what it looked like and said black power and I almost started laughing. It is really funny how people describe other people here. Like one time someone was describing a child and said something along the lines of, oh yeah, that little fat kid. But it is all said in love. I hope. 

I am starting to get used to the bus system. One of the first times I rode, I had white knuckles afterward because I was so afraid of falling down. The busses are crazy. They go super fast so everyone bounces way up and down on the bumps.

Our mission president told us to study 1 Ne 10:17 this week. It is a great scriptures and teaches a lot. For me, it helped me understand better how to receive personal revelation. One part that stuck out to me was ´diligently seek.´ We have to diligently seek, which insinuates that it doesn´t just happen immediately. We must work hard and sometimes wait to know or receive what we want, but I know Heavenly Father will always answer our prayers. 

Have an excellent week!


Sister Smith

Sunday, November 10, 2013

4 November 2013

Beloved Family and Friends,

I has been a long time since the last letter! At least it feels that way. My Pdays were Friday at the MTC, and because of traveling I havent been able to email until now, monday (new PDay).

So last Tuesday, we traveled to Porto Alegre, met the mission president, and met our trainers. My companion is named Sister Mileib and she is from Brasilia. She is great and is teaching me a lot. My area is in Rio Grande and is called Jardim do Sol (Garden of Sun or Sun Garden). It is a great area! PArts of it remind me of the old west. There are horses and buggys in the streets (also cars- most people use cars) and some houses look super cowboyish with benches and a wheel in front, all that stuff. It is basically the southernmost part of Brazil. There are only one or two areas more south than us. Crazy! We are practically in Uruguay. 
Something they do here in the south is drink Chimarrão. Basically every lunch they pass around the chimarrão and talk while the food is being prepare. I had it at Irmã Carmen´s, Jerson and Vera´s, and Irmão João Artur´s. The people are really humble here and they don´t have a lot but they give it all. When we go eat at a member´s house, they always have a feast prepared. Always with arroz e feijão. 
There was a beautiful sunset and amazing clouds when we drove in to Rio Grande from Porto Alegre (5 hour bus ride!). Also there are dogs everywhere! Sometimes they like to follow us. But they are all nice don´t worry. 
The missionary house here is really nice. Most areas have apartments but we have a house with hot water, big rooms, our own kitchen, etc. It is great. Today I am going to attempt to fix the shower so wish me luck!
The ward here is great and everyone is so nice to us missionaries. One of our investigators, Sumar, is in a wheelchair so a member, André, came and helped him get to church. It was super hard to get him there, but it was amazing the sacrifices that everyone made. We have an investigator, Vitor, who is in his early teens and wants to get baptized but his mom won´t give him permission because she thinks he is just doing it because of his friends, so remember him in your prayers. 
Our power went out the other day and we needed to plan, so we huddled around a candle to plan. I lost my flashlight and was worried about getting ready for bed and stuff. When Sister Mileib said the opening prayer to plan, she prayed that the power would come back and immediately after finishing the prayer, the lights came on! It was a great answer to a prayer.

I can´t remember if I wrote about Elder Steven E. Snow and Elder Claudio R.M. Costa coming to the CTM, but that was amazing! THis week, elder Mazzagardi came to our area and gave a conference. He spoke about the importance of personal worthiness and of using Preach my Gospel in our daily study. He talked about the process of sanctification that comes through obedience. 

Also, in the CTM President Degn gave a great lesson about the fiery darts of the adversary. He used a blow dart thing like the one Gavin has (Gavin- your dart gun is longer and more intense don´t worry) and demonstrated how fast and accurate the darts are. It was a very clear demonstration of how quick the fiery darts are and how careful we need to be. HE talked about how tribes used to use the guns and targeted youth and children to take them back and enslave them, which is kind of terrifying to think about, but really that is what the adversary is trying to do today. We have to remain vigilant (Mosiah4:30) and humble and repent daily and do all the things we know we need to do. 

I love you all!


Sister Smith