Dearest Friends and Family,
So this week was awesomely crazy!
New companion is Sister Hodnik. She is from São Paulo and is super nice and fun! Since I stayed in the area Jardim do Sol and my companion left, I basically felt super stressed about showing her the area, making sure I didn´t forget anyone, etc etc. I still feel a lot of reponsibility in remembering all the people and stuff, but I know that the Lord will help me, and this week I had an experience that helped reinforce that. My first week in the field, we were knocked on a door (actually clapped in front of the gate, that´s how it is done here) and a nice elderly lady named Maria let us in and we taught a lesson, etc. Basically I was still super new and overwhelmed and didn´t know anything that was going on. 5 weeks later, we passed her on the street and I didn´t recognize her and my companion was like -remember that was Maria, etc etc. I was super stressed because I didn´t get a good look at her and everything and out of the thousands of people we talk to I had no idea how I was going to remember everyone. However, the next week, after my companion got transferred, we were walking in the street and I saw a lady walking our way and I looked at her and it was so clear in my mind that it was Maria, and I remembered my experience meeting her and we went over and talked to her and it was just great because I knew in that moment that the Lord would help me remember the names, faces, and needs of all the people that we need to talk to and teach because He knows every one of his children by name.
Yesterday was super crazy awesome. So we had great classes (Relief Society is first, thenSchool then Sacrament Meeting) and I was just enjoying church and not suspecting anything when a counselor in the bishopric came up to me and had the "you are going to give a talk" face on. It was a huge surprise because I just gave a talk a few weeks ago and usually they tell us before any of the meetings start, not right before Sacrament Meeting. I had already used my prepared outline in this ward, so I was kind of stressed but I was like "sure sounds good." So in between playing the hymns for sacrament meeting I frantically prepared an outline, praying to be able to speak well and say something intelligible. When I went up to speak, it was amazing! It was definitely not perfect, but the words kind of just flowed out and the best part was that I used a bunch of scriptures that I had not planned to use and flipped right to them, like my scriptures were just opening themselves. I feel really blessed to have received help from Heavenly Father through the Spirit because that is the only way I could have given the talk and timed it so well. Also, the only reason I could access those scriptures was because I had memorized them in seminary. When we treasure up the words of Christ and the scriptures, they truly can come to our minds in times of need, but only if we have sudied them before.
Also yesterday, we decided to visit a less active member, Gabriela. She is super nice and welcoming, but when we walked in, we realized that they were having an engagement party. We were like "oh, we can come back at a different time" but she insisted we stay. So it was kind of super awkward. She took us to the back of the house where they were preparing food and left us with a bunch of her relatives because she had to prepare some things. So there we were, sitting in this back room with a bunch of very nice ladies who were smoking and talked a million miles per hour. It was quite an adventure. And then, someone from the front of the house called everyone to come listen to "a message." They sounded very excited but I had no idea what kind of message it was going to be. In our area there are a bunch of Jehovah´s Witensses so I was sure it was them and I thought to myself "man this is going to be fun." But it wasn´t them, it was a car with a loudspeaker attached that started to play a message that went somehting like this- "prepare your hearts to be touched etc etc " And at this point I was sure it was either some evangelical church or the universal church or something, but it actually turned out to be none of these. It was just a message for the engaged couple wishing them happiness and felicity in their marriage and lives. It was quite strange and interesting and I hope the happy couple loved it. The visit overall was quite good though. We talked to Gabriela and some of her concerns surfaced about why she is not going to church and struggles she is having. She also gave us cake and chocolates which were homemade and amazingly delicious. Many blessings.
So this week we weren´t having much success finding people at home and teaching a bunch, but we were doing everything we should, like waking up on time, studying, etc. Our own efforts weren´t amounting to much, but the Lord truly gave us a miracle. We were walking to an appointment when a woman called out to us from her house. Her name is Tânea and she lives literally right next to the church. She just moved there, but says she probably wont be staying for much longer. However, she told us that she is feeling lonely and looking for a church and wondering if we could help her. Obviously, we were elated. We invited her to church and said we would pass by. We did and she was right ready to go which is super rare! She said she wasn´t sure if we would come and decided if we didn´t she would go to that church right by her house (ours) so basically the Lord is directing her to the true church because she is earnestly searching for what is right. We told her of course we are here and that we would definitely not forget to pass by. She went to all the meetings and loved them! She had been previously attending various churches, mostly Universal, and said that she had been feeling really really confused. She is going through some tough times and she said that she felt that maybe it was because she didn´t pay enough tithing (in the Universal church they pass around a sack or tray asking for offerings of the most valuable thing you have, the most money you can offer, etc. Some people turn in cellphones, the keys to their cars, even their houses at times). I said of course it was not that and explained to her how tithing works, how it is all in private and the money doesn´t go to the preacher/pastor but directly to building chapels, temples, helping the needy, etc and that at the end of the year you receive a record. She said that made so much more sense and that she really liked that. She said multiple times that here everything was so much more clear and that it made perfect sense and that she felt really good. She is someone that was definitely prepared by the Lord. She is probably going to move to Florianopolis , but we are going to pass by today and make sure she knows how to find the church there, etc. It was a marvelous blessing to meet her and a testimony that the Lord will place people in our path if we are doing what is right.
Another miracle this week was when we had a lunch appointment in Bolaxa, which is one of the areas we have to take a bus to get to. Our area is HUGE. It has 9 bairros, or mini-town/city neighborhood places. Not sure how to describe it. Consequently, we have to take the bus a lot. Also consequently, we can´t visit every area every week and there are some areas I haven´t even visited yet, usually ones without members or investigators. So basically I was stressed because we had only gone there once and I wasn´t sure how to get there and my companion had never been there so we were kind of going off of faith. We got some vague directions from Shélem´s mom (we were going to the house of Shélem (member) and Claudio (investigator)), however after we descended the ônibus, we asked a man how to get to Rua 129 and he said it didn´t exist. So we said thanks and started walking, not sure how everything was going to work out. As we went along the road, we heard a man call out "Irmãs!" We turned and it was Claudio! He was working (he is a bricklayer) at a house nearby. He gave us clear directions how to get to his house (it was pretty close) and said he would join us in a few minutes. The Lord truly is watching out for us every second of the day. Lunch was great and we were able to teach Claudio a bit more. He is very kind and giving and is going to make a wonderful member of the church. He sometimes doesn´t like to come to church because he doesn´t read well and is embarrassed, but we are trying to help him overcome that.
Also this week, we had Natal Branco (White Cristmas) where some wards in our stake realized some baptisms and the missionaries sand in a choir (I played the piano :D) It was a lovely evening. This week we have a zone conference in Pelótas and we get to have lunch with President Castro! I´m excited.
I am getting burnt to a crisp even though I have SPF 50 sunscreen. Yay tanlines!
I have been enjoying the scriptures that my family sent and reading them as part of my personal study. Thanks to everyone that sent cards and mail. I am always super excited and happy to read them. Thanks for all the updates on everyone. Merry Christmas season! It is truly the most wonderful time of the year when we take time to focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas- the birth of the greatest life that ever walked this planet. He truly fulfilled His mission perfectly and understands all of our struggles and difficulties. (Alma 7:11-13 Isaiah 53:3-5)
Love you all <3