Sunday, December 28, 2014

22 Dezembro 2014

First of all, shoutout to Mr. Elder Daniel Gavin Smith the best Mexican brother ever! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!

This week was super louco crazy. 

Monday: Singing in the city center! It was a miracle. We got together in the downtown chapel and worked the hymns. We hadn´t been able to get ahold of the city events coordinator the whole week so we went on faith. We got to this great frountain in the middle of the Praça Osório which had dancing water and lights show and we thought, hey this is a great place! Lots of people, great local, let´s get started. Just as we were getting organized Bam! LA DA DA DA DINGA DONG WHOOSH BANG! The loudspeakers all over the plaza started blasting exciting orchestral christmas music and the fountain water danced along.

Oookay. We aren´t really equipped to compete with that....But we had said lots of prayers that this would go well, so we started brainstorming. Pres. Juliano (our awesome stake presidente that is SUPER involved in the missionary work in the stake) and one of our Zone leaders went over to a glass booth and found the sound guy. They asked if he could turn off the music for like 15 minutes for us to sing and... miracle! He said yes! So on his signal, the music went off and we sang. Wow. It was a lovely moment. Afterward we handed out those new "Ele é o presente" pass along cards and a bunch of people loved it! 

We figured out that in the front of our house there is a lovely track and nice foresty park area. I don´t know how we missed it because it basically goes along the entire avenue, but we decided to start using it for exercise! So Pelótas is a pretty big city but we live in a part that has a very small town feel, evidenced by the fact that after the first day we went running, everyone in the ward knew about it by the time evening fell. A brother in the ward passed by us on his bike on the way to work and a sister in the ward saw us from her bus stop.  We feel very important or at least interesting because we always make the ward gossip circle even with the simplest things. 

Oh, and I had a wonderful birthday! It was funny because when we went to visit one of our investigators, she had a bunch of people over, and we found out it was her birthday party! So we sang a hymn for her. We didn´t mention it was my birthday but I kind of felt like it was my party too. Just pretend. But we didn´t stay long and made some other visits and then all of a sudden the Ward Mission Leader called and asked if we could stop by before our stake mission meeting. We were like sure, and when we got there, SURPRISE! It was a party. There was a giant chocolate cake and homemade bread and juice. Heaven. Then suddenly, the doorbuzzer rang. Surprise! Another cake! This was was round and had two layers! Then suddenly there is a knock on the door. Surprise! Another cake! This was was an orange cake, hot and fresh from the oven. Then suddenly someone just walked in. Surprise! Another cake! Well, this was was more like a breakfast casserole type thing. Then suddenly another family came in. Suprise! Another cake! This one was a yellow cake with chocolate sprinkles. She also brought a cuca goiabada (bread with doce de goiaba and crumbly sugar stuff on top). We had to leave for a meeting but we found out today that another irmã brought... surprise! Another cake! Chocolate. I love this ward. I was struggling there at the end but I ate at least a little bit of everything. 

To top it all off, at our stake missionary meeting there was ice cream! And they sent me home with an extra tub! 

So, dear friends and family, if you were wondering, I was very well cared for on this my special day.  

Random fun fact. Pres. Juliano, who is a member of our ward, is like this super inpiring, energetic, motivating leader. We had lunch with him and his wife, Michele, and kids, Sophia and Rafaella when suddenly his phone, which is normally on silent, rang. 50 points to guess the ringtone.
Imagine helium-style high pitched voice and funky high pitched percussion"she´s got the applebottom jeans and the boots with the fur, with the furr..." haha I think I have decided my future ringtone.

Friday we made the cookies for the ward party for a Young Women´s activity. SO. Many. sugarcookies. And one of the Young Women brought her friend who is starting to investigate the church! 

On a serious note, the councilor to our mission presidency, Pres. Ricardo Alves, passed away unexpectedly Saturday morning. We were able to go to his viewing. It was a very solemn experience for all involved and if you guys could pray for his family they are having a really hard time. He has a lovely wife, daughter, and two young sons. 

Due to the occurence, our ward activity was cancelled on Saturday, so we were stuck with enough cookies to feed the ward. We had the idea to decorate a bunch superfast and then we delivered them to less active and investigator families. It actually went pretty well! Even though it decided to rain, the cookies were double-plated--that old crafty trick where you put one upside down plate on top of the other. The contents were all protected. Win. 

Pres. Juliano shared a talk at ward conference. He talked about how a while back the ward was going to the temple. There were several people driving, and one had to lead. One of the brothers in the ward volunteered to take the lead. Unfortunately, they ended up getting super lost and stuck in a super sketchy part of Porto Alegre. However, they ended up eventually making it. The next time there was to be a temple trip, they were again deciding who would take the lead. This same brother raised his hand and said, I will! He said, you? No, Irmão, remember what happened? But the brother insisted and said. "President, this time I am prepared." He led the way confidently and safely to the temple. He related this to repentance. Even if the people around you don´t believe that you can change, even if they base the opinion of you on the past, it is up to you, using faith, diligence, and careful attention (1 Ne 16:28-Liahona) to follow the way outlined by the scriptures that you can change, be better, and lead the way to the temple. Let us listen to the voice of the prophets, both in past times and in our days, and be able to say, like th people of King Benjamin, "we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." Mosiah 5:2

Love you guys!

Sister Smith

Sunday, December 21, 2014

15 Dezembro 2014

The Lord looks out for each of His missionaries. This week we traveled A LOT. We went to Arroio Grande on tuesday, Camaquã Thursday and Friday, and Canguçu on Saturday. Google maps them if you want to see where they are. I am not even sure, I just get on the bus that has the right name on it. 

But anyway, on the way back from Camaquã, we were sitting on the last row of the greyhound style bus, in front of the washcloset. After a while through the journey, I leaned back my chair. Seconds later the bus suddenly slowed to a stop. We heard a skid and then BAM!! and felt the impact of a truck running into our bus. No one on the bus suffered injuries, and the most I felt was a little headache that didn´t even last a day. I think the truck driver is okay too, but the truck suffered the worst- the glass on thie windshield was all shattered. 

We didn´t think it was that rough of a crash until we saw the truck. To me that goes to show how much the Lord was protecting us. We were the closest to the impact, yet nothing happened. We didn´t feel afraid or anything.

We had a ward activity on Saturday in Canguçu! We spent most of the time talking to a young woman named Camilla and her nonmember grandma, Maria, who is super wonderful and really likes the church. The only problem is that she thinks it is a sin to go to Sunday meetings in another church that is not the one you are baptized in. We talked to her about family history the other day and she got really interested, which is a good start. 

We are also teaching an amazing couple, Gabriel and Josiele. They have a great religious background with lots of knowledge already. We were teaching the Pan of Salvatioun and talked about the flal. We asked Josiele what she understands about the fall and she was like, "I don´t know if this is right, but in my opinion..." and then went on to perfectly explain the fall, how the Bible neve says it´s an apple, but just a fruit and various doctrines and principles of the fall and it´s place in God´s Plan. She is reading the Book of Mormon but hasn´t prayed yet, because she says she doesn´t yet have real intent. I love that she understands that. 

On Sunday we were leaving lunch, and we had forgotten the map. We went down a road that ended up just leading us right around back to where we started, but we needed to go down that road. In the middle of that road, there was a man in a rastafari cap and short dreads hanging out, hoeing weeds. As we neared him, he called out, "hey! Do you guys have something for me to read?" Vitalino (the man´s name) said that he is really looking for a change in his life, and we gave him a pamphlet, explained a bit, and marked to go back. What a wonderful blessing. He seemed to be really looking for a hope and a change. 

We feel really blessed and protected this week. 
Proverbs 30:4-5 "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what ishis name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."

We felt that promise being fulfilled this week. He can do anything and takes care of everything when we put our trust in Him. 


Sister Smith

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

7 December 2014

Okay friends. This month we have been passing through a pioneer experience. In reality, I think some missions have to do this all the time, but I count my blessings that it has only been for a bit. When we arrived in this area, we received many surprises. One of which is that the washing machine was broken. A replacement was supposed to be sent in days but so far...nothing. So we have been learning how to wash clothes by hand. However, our house is not equipped for this, thus we have been using pails and containters. I have attached pictures. Washing by hand was made even harder when the water shut off. Twice. Somehow we managed not to be stinky using perfume and rationing the water we had in our various water bottles to wash our faces, etc. It was really fun and I felt pioneery. And it´s not even July.

Also! The busses went on strike, so when we want to get somewhere far, we have to take combes, which are basically little retired bus vans that once functioned daily but now only come out of the shadows during the strike. Our only other option is sketchy cars with bearded men and handwritten papers taped to the windshield "Centro- R$6,00".... We went with the combe. 

Fun facts about our new place. The neighbors, normally around 8:25, start to blast the SAME PLAYLIST EVERY DAY, including the Party Rock anthem. twice. We Found Love in a Hopeless Place, a Brazilian Samba, and a music that says Blah Blah Blah probably more than 140 times. Is that a new top 10, or is it just something here? Really, people, I hope that someone has made something high quality while I have been here because if I get back and it is just stuff like this on the top 10 I will have to become a pop star.  

The other day we saw a cat on our neighbor´s roof in the scorching heat. He was belly up with his arms open and one leg sticking up in the air. We thought he was dead. When we looked the next day, he was gone. But the next day was back. I decided he has a day on/day off tanning schedule. I attached pictures of the roof he tans on ( I think it was his day off when I took the pic, so he is absent, sorry). The roof is at the end of the line of clothes and to the left. BTW The backyard in the pictues is not ours, nor is the trampoline if anyone was wondering. 

So yesterday we had the best meeting ever with our bishop. It was the activity planning meetine where we got our activities approved. So for Christmas we are wanting to have an integration activity where we decorate sugar cookies and make paper snowflakes. I didn´t know it would be so hard to explain that yes, the ratio of butter to flour is correct. It would have helped if I knew the word for stick of butter. I ended up calling them something like poles of butter because people here use exclusively margarine in tubs, so up to this point in the mission I haven´t ever had to talk about real butter. 

No one was really getting the paper snowflakes idea either so I grabbed a paper, asked for scissors, and made a simple, but lovely snowflake. When the paper unfolded, it was like Christmas had already arrived.
"Whoooa! did you mean to put hearts in it?" Yes, yes I did
"So, you want to make, like...a HUNDRED of these?" Yes, it´s easier than it looks. And all the people can make their own. I will teach them. 
"This must be an American thing" Yeah, I have studied snowflakes since childhood. It´s an integral part of the education system. 
Bishop wanted me to name the snowflake.... so I came up with the name flaming starfire of love. We decided that snowflakes express personalities, kind of like Rorschach blotch tests. Sister Kirk and then the Elder´s quorum president each made a snowflake and then held them up for people to see their personalities. The snowlake activity got approved. Win.

This week we also had some awesome inspiring experiences. For example, one day on the bus I decided to talk to the lady by my side. Her name is Mara. She had on a kind of grumpy face, so I started chatting and asked her about Pelótas, what she likes about here, etc. Whenever the conversation died, I pumped it back up again and eventually it natulrally led to a gospel conversation and I gave her not one, but two pamphlets, because she said she likes to read. I didn´t think much of the conversation, but when I had to descend the bus, I gave her a hug (normal here) and she said, "you don´t know the good that you did for me today" and I felt so happy! Even not realizing it we can make a difference in people´s lives. I felt a re-kindling of that missionary fire. We can keep it burning constantly if we look outside ourselvess.

Also, we had kind of a miracle. In Doctrine and Convenants 75:27 it says "Let them ask and they shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto them, and be made known from on high, even by theComforter, whither they shall go." As I mentioned, I have been praying for guidance in the area. One day, we were walking along and talking about some investigators. We started to talk about Nestor, a referall that our WML had taken us to a few days earlier. Unfortunatly, both of us forgot to write down his address and telephone #! Don´t do that at home, kids. But we felt like we should pass by and talk to him. But how? We kept walking toward where we were going originally but for some reason we took a different route that we had never taken before. Suddenly, the road ended and when we looked up, BAM! There was Nestor´s Hap Ki Do studio!!!! (Side note: Hap Ki Do is one of the most complete forms of martial arts, teaching not only physical, but mental-emotional and spiritual harmony and control, according to Nestor) we were able to chat with him and even though he was unable to come to church this week, we conversed about future lessons, etc, and, most importatnly, wrote down his address and phone #.

2 Ne 2:16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
Satan and his followers are working 24/7 to entice to do wrong, so to give people their full agency, we have to at least equal that effort. Invite! Entice to do good! Doing good is fun! It´s what all the cool people do! It´s how you get eternal happiness!

Invite someone to do good today. Love you guys!

Sister Smith

Monday, December 1, 2014

1 December 2014


It has been a crazy awesome productive week. I am not sure whether to be happy or overwhelmed. I think I will choose happy. Because people. I have never received SO MANY REFERALLS! Yesterday we had a ward council meeting where the ward members basically started fighting over when they can make visits with us. We have to travel A LOT to be able to visit 7 companionships of sisters within this 5 week transfer so it´s pretty busy. But in a good way. 

We also had a visit from Elder Morôni Torgan who had some great thoughts, as well as some great thoughts by Pres. and Sister Castro. One thing that stood out to me was not necessarily what was said but how it was said. Whenever Elder Torgan or Presidente Castro went to speak, they would just cite scriptures off the top of their head basically every other sentence! And it wasn´t like oh, look how many scriptures I know, but it was really natural and brought the spirit, as well as authority and truth to their messages, and reminded me of the scripture in D&C 84:85 "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; buttreasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man."

So Basically the theme of this week is "Ask and you shall recieve" (See Matthew 7:7-11, Enos 1:15 "Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.") We have received more blessings than we know how to count. 

Opening an area is fun, but very different from what I would have thought. For example, I thought it would be hard to find people to teach, but we are actually basically overwhelmed with the number of people we have, the difficulty now will be accompanying the people sufficiently. For example, we had a distrito amigo and asked everyone to find at least one new family to teach and everyone came back with the page full of people! We have been asking the Lord for guidance in our area and I know for a certaintly He has been helping. For example, we often have to ask the name of a road, so we were one this dirt road that basically had no people just floating around, but on a side road, I saw a couple of people sitting on chairs. We went to talk to them, and they not only accepted to hear a message but accepted basically everything we had to say and wanted us to come back the next day! And they told us the name of the road. 

So now what we are asking for is discernment and capability to keep up with all the people. 

Also Irmã Michele gave us a little Christmas tree :)  

Love you guys!!!

Sister Smith

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

25 November 2014

ARGH!! It happened again. Messed up the date for Thanksgiving. We celebrated a week early, which is better than forgetting (last year) and found out yesterday that Thanksgiving is coming up, not passed. This week I will be traveling to Porto Alegre (woot! Love the city) on Thanksgiving for a meeting so that will be a joyous celebration. 

So...Thanksgiving was (will be?) good. This week after district meeting in Arroio Grande (the cutest and flattest (in all respects) little city in existence. Google Maps it) we made a feast. By feast I mean a pot of noodles and Calabresa the size of two of those baby bathtub basin things. Except something went wrong with the noodles and it turned out more like a playdough with bits of sausage and green pepper. There were leftovers. BUT! We counted our blessings during the meal. I was grateful for you guys. And music. 

Irmão Juan is the Quorum President and told us he has a great referall for us- a lady that cuts his hair. So we marked to go with him to his haircut haha. Celí cuts hair in her house so we went one night and as Juan and his son, Bryan, are getting hair cuts, we chat about the gospel. It was great because Juan just starts talking to Celí about the Plan of Salvation and how he brought us to meet her to make a difference in her life. It´s amazing how spiritually sensitive people are here. And so open, especially when someone they know and trust presents them with the gospel. Celí said she would love to learn more and come to church, but she would really like her husband Joaquim to participate, who is pretty closed to religion. As he passed by the door, we called him to come sit with us. He said no thanks, and Celí made a face like "I knew it. There is just no way." But for some reason Joaquim stayed at the door. We  engaged him in the conversation and he got kind of excited and then we were like, come! Sit in this nice white plastic chair! And he sat. We chatted for a while and after he left, Celí said that was a miracle because lately he has been turning his back whenever anything about religion is mentioned. She was super happy, as were we. We will be visiting them on Wednesday :)

So this week we have been walking quite a bit, because being new in the area, when we don´t have referalls or old investigators from the area book to visit, we knock on doors. But yesterday we had a little miracle! After a wonderful meeting with the ward missionaries where we trained the first discussion with them, an irmão said that he had a referall. Him, his wife and daugher, and we loaded into his car. When the referall couldn´t attend, he didn´t just leave us on the side of the road, he said "where to next, sisters?" So we shared our next plan. She wasn´t home, but the irmão said, "where to next, sisters?" So were were like whoa! First time ever! Proselyting by car. I´m digging it. So we finally found a family home- an irmã, Marcela, who hasn´t been going for a while, and her mom, Ilma, and son, David, who aren´t members. They are so awesome! Marcela said she was having a hard time getting David (8 years old) motivated for church. We kept on chatting and soon David entered. While everyone were talking, I summoned David over. I asked him, whispering as if it were a grand secret, "Hey, do you wan´t to come to church next Sunday?" After thinking, he nodded yes. I said "Go ask your mom if she will take you" And he went and whispered in her ear and she said "Yes! Of course!" and became so happy and planted a giant kiss on his cheek.  Sometimes we just have to make people feel special and make them feel like they have a part in the decision. I can see them being such a happy family at church. I´m excited.

I was reading about the Holy Ghost and have been trying to deepen my understanding. If you have any good articles about Him, I would love to give them a read. 

Remember to be grateful! The thing I am most grateful for is that my loving Father in Heaven sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone and die for me (John 3:16-17) so that I can be happy and clean and know what I am doing here and where I am going. He is my Savior and King and I received this testimony through the Holy Ghost, our friend and Comforter (John 14:26)


Sister Smith

Monday, November 17, 2014

17 November 2014

Wow. So I kind of feel like I was on the first week of my mission again because everything was new. So I told you all I was getting transferred to Pelótas, which I knew, but what I didn´t say (because I didn´t find out until I was practically going there) was that I would be opening an area. I don´t know how to say that in missionary english- basically there is a ward here in Pelótas where it has been elders basically since the beginning of time and last week President Castro took them out and decided to put in Sisters (where we come into the story). So. My area is named Gotuzzo. Which is the best kept secret of the mission. No one has ever heard of this area but secretly it is the BEST AREA IN THE WHOLE MISSION! In my opinion. Let me share some examples:

We get here late Tuesday night after traveling the whole day. A brigade of strong brothers from the ward awaits us at the bus station and takes our suitcases as we ride with the stake president and his wife to our new house. They carry up all our suitcases. I don´t even have to sweat. 

Wednesday morning we have district meeting and afterward aren´t sure if we have lunch. We start heading home when we get a text that says "I need to talk to you. Call me." I call. On the other end of the line is Tia Lú, a sister in the ward that says she has lunch ready for us and will wait at the bus stop so we know where to get off. After lunch she takes us to the house of our Ward Mission Leader, Irmão Jorge. He is super excited to get working and we make plans. That night, he and his wife drive us to the house of Gilsiane and Alexandre, a couple that started investigating the church about 7 years ago who Jorge thinks is ready to be invited to baptism. Gilsiane recently, after practiacally her whole life of smoking, succeeded in quitting. They are super receptive and we had a very beautiful and spiritual lesson. 

The ward was really excited to have sisters. We are their missionary princesses. We spoke on Sunday and after us spoke the Stake President. I spoke about how I love music and played in an orchestra and how in an orchestra everyone plays an importants role and each has a capacity to contribute, but not everone plays the same role. I read Ephesians 4:11-14 about our different callings and various scriptures from the gospels about Christ inviting us to follow him, like when in Matthew he invites him to leave his work (he is working at his tax desk I think) and follow him. And he follows without delay. Even though we are all different, we are following the same person. He is the conductor of the symphony and when we follow him exactly, each person´s different contribution will synchronize and become part of the beautiful symphony that Christ has in mind for us. 

Yesterday night we had a huge stake mission meeting (all the missionaries, bishops, WMLs and High Counselor over missionary work). It was legendarily inspiring. Everyone is so pumped up to do missionary work. The high counselor, Irmão Nico, is from our ward and he is a recent return missionary from Manaus and is super enthusiastic. One thing he did that was kind of cool was pass the numbers from the last trimester for us to see from all the wards/branches and then made huge circles around the numbers that were high/ideal from all the wards. For example, one of the wards had a lot of convert baptisms, and another ward had a really high retention percentage, and another ward had great success in ordaining the masculine converts, etc. The great thing was,  all the wards had different strengths. Irmão Nico invited each ward representative individually up to the front to teach the rest of the wards how they were able to have success in that strong point, and each was able to see how to turn a weak point strong through the example of others and each was able to have hope in their progress, focusing on what they had done well. 

EVERYONE gives us referrals. We have not walked out of a members house yet without them giving us someone to visit. If that is not the Lord pouring out blessings, I am not a missionary princess.

Some other adventures in opening an area: The apartment was uninhabitable, to be generous. I found a dried butterfly though. That was a bright moment.

I am becoming really really good at reading maps. I was already good but now I´m like the cake boss of maps. The map is my new best friend apart from real people.

My mouth is dry from talking to SO MANY PEOPLE! But here in the interior (like suburbs kind of but not exactly) people are quite receptive. 

The first or second day here I saw a sheep on a leash. Since then there have been various sightings of horses, cows, chickens, dogs, and cocroaches, both domestic and wild (the cocroaches are all wild, except Felix, one the size of my upper thumb joint that we found behind the sink today and domesticated but ultimately decided to spray and throw out) But what made me smile the most was the sheep. I thought it was a cute pet. Up until the stake president called the morning we were to have lunch at his house and asked one simple question "Do you eat lamb?" "Yes......" We replied "Okay, thanks. Bye"
You will not be surprised to hear what we had for lunch. Roasted lamb, Churrasco style. Don´t worry, this was not the same lamb that I saw the other day because this lamb was from Pinheiro Machado, a neighboring town, said President Julian. 

So. This is Pelótas. I admit I wasn´t 100% enthusiastic about coming here but even after this little time, I can already see why I came. The Lord is always so much smarter than us. It´s embarrassing some times. It always brings me back to yet another scripture mastery scripture, Isaiah 55:8-9. 

Love you guys. 

Sister Smith

Friday, November 14, 2014

10 November 2014

So it seems like just yesterday that I got transferred here, but.....I´m leaving :( :( 
I will miss good old Glória (used to be Alameda) I included some reminiscent photos. 

I don´t think I have ever been so sad to leave a people. I keep thinking of all the people I am leaving behind- a recent convert, a new investigator, a dear member, my comp and dear friend Sister Gurrieri.  I will be going to Pelótas, way far away , close to where I started my mission. I know it will be great and I will love it. 

This week was full of beautiful moments. We have been helping Mary, a recent convert of almost a year (who is starting to prepare to go to the temple!!!!!), quite a bit with some difficulties she was having, and she was so grateful, that when she went to the market, she bought a giant bag of biscoitos (little cracker cookies) for us. We asked her to put just a few in a little containter for us because she needs the food more than we do, but we couldn´t turn down such genuine generosity and love. She is in two of the photos I included. 

Yesterday we had an investigator that said they would go to church, but she lived REALLY far away and didn´t know how to get to the church, so we had to arrange a ride, which is a super hard thing here because very few ward members here have cars. But someone said that a young couple in the ward that lives our apartment complex has a car. It was Saturdaywhen the investigator said they could go, so we had very little time to get everything together. We called the couple using the interphone at doorman´s office saturday night, and they said sure! they could go with us. Sunday morning, right on time, we walked out of the apartment and Giselle, the wife, was already in the car waiting. It turns out she is the one that has the driver´s licence, but she has only had it for a year. We could tell that se was SUPER nervous and eventually she confessed that she had only driven with her husband in the car. It was touching to see how willing she was to go way out of her comfort zone to help someone she doesn´t even know, who didn´t even end up going to church, but she didn´t complain, just smiled and served. 

I learned something interesting in gospel principles class yesterday. We were talking about prayer and how the Lord´s prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13 is given as a pattern of prayer, but that we do not repeat prayers, but they are like conversations with God. However, there are prayers that are the same, like the sacramental prayer. Why? It is a contract with God. The terms of the contract do not change with time, location, or circumstance. That is why the sacramental prayers, baptismal prayer, and other written words used repeatedly are the same always. Because God created the contract and offers the same to all of His children. Personal prayers, however, allow us to align our will with God´s, taking into consideration all of the specific and individual circumstances of our lives. 
Pray more and pray harder. 


Sister Smith

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

20 October 2014

Zone conference this week!!! It was awesome! We had some great messages, then went out for lunch. As we were walking back to the chapel, it started to rain. It was raining we we left, but super lightly, but suddenly it started to pour. Since it was sunny in the morning, no one had umbrellas. We went as fast as we could, but ended up getting soaked all the way through. But it was definitely a miracle that after the conference I was going to go do companion exchanges in Ipanema, and I had brought my backpack with a change of clothes and everything!! Yay! And the other sisters were able to find dry clothes in Sister Castro´s office since our conference was at the mission office chapel. 

At the conference, Pres. Castro gave a message about rudders, based on one of Pres. Monson´s messages about the Bismark. How as missionaries (or members) if we do not have our purpose in mind, we are like a boat without a rudder. That got me thinking about what are the ways that we can remember our purpose. First we must have our thoughts and hearts centered on the Lord and our investigators (Mosiah4:30). We must pray for them always. We must demonstrate our faith, acting in a way that will help them (visiting, preparing to teach, etc). Thus, our thoughts, words, and deeds will be centered on others and we will lose, and thus find, ourselves. 

Also, Claudio Augusto got baptized!!!! Álvaro was so excited to be able to do the baptism. It was really a great moment for their family. We had kind of a miracle at the baptism too. It was announced Sunday and we asked someone to put the event on fb, but apparently no one was paying attention, because at 15 minutes before 7:00 (when the baptism was to start), the only people there were us, and our Ward Mission Leader and his wife. We not only needed priesthood holders to be witnesses, but we also needed Álvaro and Claudio and everyone! So we ran to a member´s house that is super close to the church, but there were no priesthood holders home. We called a ward member who lives SUPER far away, but has a car and he said he could come but would be a bit late. We didn´t really know what else to do. Pres Grimaldi, who is acting as our Bishop for the time being, arrived and brought pop and refreshments, which was super great, but we still needed a bunch of people, especially Álvaro and Claudio.So Sister Gurrieri and I went into the restroom and knelt down and prayed. It was almost 7:00 and we had done all we could think of to do, and we asked Heavenly Father to help us because we weren´t enough alone. As we stepped outside the door, we heard a commotion at the entrance. A taxi pulled up, bringing Álvaro, Maria Helena, and Claudio Augusto, who were late because they had been buying new clothes for Claudio :) Then another car pulled up with a family of members who are coworkers of Álvaro, and thus it went until we had a bunch of people and a bunch of refreshments, which is always a good thing. It was amazing how immediate the response was to our prayer. It was like Heavenly Father was saying "Finally! I was just waiting for you to rely on me to make everything work out." It was a lovely service and everyone was very happy. In the picture, Álvaro and Claudio aren´t smiling, but it´s kind of a thing here for men not to smile in pictures. They are happy. Trust me. 

Anyways, it was a great week and I am so grateful to be a missionary. Also, I get to go to the temple on Wednesday!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Best place ever. 


13 October 2014

Highlights from this week:

Claudio Augusto (Álvaro´s 13 year old son) is progressing really well. He always asks us to sing 4 or 5 hymns before we start the lesson because he likes to laugh at our accents, but at church this Sunday he told us that he learned two hymns to sing for us next time we visit. I am looking forward to it. 

Álvaro also came with us to visit Marco, who is as enthusiastic as ever. Still quite the talker, but he is super willing to agree to live the commandments and said that he already basically lives all the commandments. The Lord truly prepares people. 

As we left Marco´s house, there was a tall, thin wall with a door in it that I had never noticed before and a lady standing in the doorframe. We went up and talked to her and she said something no one understood and turned around and calmly went into the door, which led to her front patio and her house. We looked at each other, confused, and then she came back and said, "aren´t you going to come in?" Pleasantly surprised, we agreed and entered and taught her (Teresa) and her husband, Dolmar. It was a very agreeable experience. 

So I guess one word to describe this week is pleasant. Which is funny because usually the weeks are crazy or difficult or shocking, but this week was just plain pleasant. Looking back, I can´t remember anything really disagreeable. Oh, yeah yesterday we talked to a guy who went kind of crazy talking endlessly but he had two empty bottles of alcoholic substance on his person. Reason 10 for living the Word of Wisdom. 

Jessica is still waiting to hear about when she will be able to do her surgery. she has been waiting for this for years and she and her mom think it should be soon. I sure hope so too. 

This week in my personal study I read this really cool scripture about how we can be full of light:

"And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shallbe filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and thatbody which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.

Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become singleto God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he willunveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in hisown way, and according to his own will." (D&C 88:67-68)

It depends on us to first, be focused on the glory of God, or in other words, always remember who He is and who we are as children of God. We all have divine purposes and missions and it is only when we forget this that we fall. And second, to sanctify ourselves. This comes from daily repentance. This week I thought a lot about the word remember, see Helaman 5:5-14) What are the things that we should always remember? How does taking the sacrament help us to have our "eye...single to [His] glory" and to "sanctify [our]selves"? What do we need to remember during the week to prepare for that sanctification?

Love you guys and hope everything is going well!

Sister Smith

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

29 September 2014

Lots of changes! Sisters Silva, Melo, and Hodnik, all former companons, all
went home this week ahh!!! craziness. My new companion is Sister Gurrieri,
from Argentina! We were in the MTC at the same time, and she is just
wonderful! I have never had a Hispanic companion yet so maybe I will
dust off my español :)
We had stake con ference yesterday and the ward boundaries changed. One
ward was split and divided into two wards, including ours, but now the name
of our ward is the name of the ward that split, Glória. So I changed areas
but not really. Now we split the ward with Elders. oh. And bothe the bishop
of our ward and the bishop of Glória moved to the other wrd (Ala 2) and the
new bishop has not yet been approved so we are now bishpless. Stake
leadership has been assigned to preside over our ward for the time being.
But this is definitely a first for me. It is strange and sad being

So I have a bunch of great stories and spiritual thoughts but this
computer stopped working and ate up all my time waiting to load stuff.
So, sorry for the dry letter but I love you all and I will write cool
stuff next week. I am alive.

1. New comp Sister Gurrieri! In front of the chapel

2. On a hill, squinting in the sun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

22 September 2014

I have to be quick today because my companion (Síster Silva) is headed home so we have a LOT to do. Síster Melo´s mom and sister also came to pick her up so things are kinda crazy.

I will share the highlights of the week:

Karina got baptized!!! Woohoo!!! The pictures turned out kind of blurry, but if you don´t remember, she is Eliza´s daughter. It was another wonderful experience and another reminder of the joys and importance of families. Letícia shared her testimony again and it was so great to see her joy in seeing one more member of her Family join the church. Waltair and Eliza made a giant churrasco party for us afterward :) So many giant spears of meat. Wow.

This week Rio Grande do Sul commemorated semana Farroupilha, which is where they celebrate gaúcho stuff and a war that they lost.

Álvaro memorized the sacramental prayer and blessed the sacrament! He is so eager to continue his gospel learning and progression. He has already memorized the baptismal ordinance because he really wants to be able to baptize his son.

We also had a churrasco yesterday with Eva, Priscila, Camila, and Ravel Paim for lunch. Priscila made cheesecake. Basically I was in heaven! After lunch we shared a message:

Read Moses 1:39

Think of the difference between immortality and eternal life. They are both gifts, one that is automatic but the other we have to accept. It is available to all but depends on our desire and how we show that desire. What is left for you to do to receive the second gift?

Love you all!!!!

Sister Smith

1. Baptism
2. Baptism
3. Rock- beira de Rio Guaíba
4. Giant Chimarrão @ Parque Harmonía (Semana Farroupilha)

15 September 2014

My dear ones,
This was one of the best weeks ever! It was crazy because basically nothing went as planned. It all went better. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
So at the end of the week we were a little short of meeting our goals, but we were determined to do it. It was Sunday night (the last day of our week) and we needed two new investigators. We started knocking on doors and miracle! someone let us in! It was a nice old lady, Magdalena, who listened to a message but when we asked if we could mark a day to come back, she was like no, it was super crazy that you found me at home because I am never at home. It will be a miracle if you find me again. Good thing we believe in miracles. But anyway she didn´t really express interest so we were still in the search!
We visited Álvaro, who got baptized three weeks ago, and met his father-in-law! He was super cool- a little set in his ways (spent 10-15 minutes straight explaining his moral philosophy that he has developed his whole life) but agreed to listen and to read and pray. As we were leaving, we asked Álvaro if he had anyone he could present us to. He said yes! And brought us to meet his neighbor, Carlos, who readily accepted the message and our invitations to read and pray. He said he want´s to see a lot of changes in his life as a result of the gospel. Álvaro was great, explaining everything and bearing his testimony about how his life was changed. He even wrote down the steps of prayer so Carlos would be able to remember. So basically the Lord put people into our path. He´s amazing like that.

Highlight of the week- Eliza´s baptism! She is amazing!!!!! So this week she got struck with a terrible cold and unexpected pains and lots of crazy stuff- had to go to the hospital for exams, etc. Friday night she was worse than ever but said that she still wanted to go through with it. She had prayed and said that she received her answer, that she truly felt that this is what she wants and what God wants for her and her family. Saturday night, still with a crazy cold and even though the water was cold (the gas ran out at the chapel! ahh!!!) she came through and was baptized! Carina, her daughter (purple shirt in the photo) wants to get baptized too and even though she works most Sundays she has already committed to come every Sunday she has off and try to find another job that lets her get Sundays off. Eliza wore a new skirt that she bought to church on Sunday and it was great to see her and Waltair together at church!! I just love that family! 
Letícia, a member of the ward, is Eliza´s niece. She is the first member of her family to be baptized and she shared her testimony at the baptism and through tears expressed her happiness to see the first member of her family, other than herself, be baptized. It was a beautiful moment for everyone. Families! Ahh!!!
Other miracle of the week was Marco. I was on a division with Sister Seely and we talked to a couple in the street. We marked to go back, and yesterday we visited with Marco on his front patio. The Lord is truly preparing people. When we got there, he said that his work friend, Bispo Teixeira (from another stake) had already introduced him a while ago to a lot of stuff, given him a huge stack of Liahona´s and stuff. AND! That  he had already researched the church on AND that he had already downloaded the Book of Mormon in PDF and liked what he had read so far. He said he is a big fan of the church but has never had the opportunity to receive missionaries before. We are the lucky firsts! He is super smart and already knows about a whole bunch of stuff. He knew about President Hinckley, and we were pleased to inform him that it´s now President Monson that came after him and basically, it was just a delight to teach him.

 Theme of the week, Alma 13:24 "For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for thepurpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory."
I testify that that is true.
And not just here! The Lord and His angels work everywhere, preparing people to receive the restored gospel and to receive hope and light in their lives. It´s funny because, like with Carlos, it is usualy the last door, the last idea, the last hope, that comes through. It is usually after much rejection that comes reception. The Lord has prepared successes, but first we pass through tribulations and tests of our faith. But the gospel is true and we have everey reason to rejoice! Woohoo!!

Love you guys,

Sister Smith

Sunday, September 14, 2014

8 September 2014

Happy Brazilian Independence Day Yesterday!
No one celebrated. Not even a firework. The other sisters in our apartment remembered today and sang the Brazilian National Anthem during companionship study.
Yesterday we approached the house of Renato, who got baptized Saturday. His parents are members, but they wanted us to teach him before he got baptized. When we got near, he ran out to the front gate and yelled "Sisters! Sisters! Did you like my baptism yesterday!?" We said yes,  yes we did. And then he said "the water was so cold! I got goosebumps. But inside my heart I felt super warm."
Eliza came to church again! And this time Waltair came! I just love that family. Waltair talked to one of the members afterward and said that he felt so great at church and that he feels the same thing when we teach him at his house. Yay!
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to study the scriptures. I have been working on improving my study and mastery of the scriptures. Pres. Castro says that to master a scripture, you have to 
1. Know the reference
2. Know the content (principles, doctrines, memorization)
3. Be living the principles contained. 
Our mission has been making goals to master the scriptures in Preach my Gospel. It has really helped our lessons. When we teach with scriptures, we teach with power and authority and it adds spirituality to the lessons..
II Tim 3:16-17 says it all. 
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
Study your scriptures, love you scriptures!!!

Sister Smith

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

24 August 2014

So August basically came and went without me realizing it. Wow. 

Weather update: everyone said "get ready, winter is coming...." for two or three months. It never came. Now spring is here but feels like summer. But it is raining today! Which is a blessing because I left my sunscreen at my old apartment and I already am sunburnt. 

So, update on my life- it´s been a while since I wrote details and I can´t remember what I have already said. So....

I am here in Alameda with Sister Silva, but we live in an apartment with four sisters (for the first time in my mission!!), Sister A. Oliveira (new on the mission) and Sister Melo (one of my old companions :D ). Life in four is an adventure. There is never a dull moment. 

So these past couple weeks I got to know area Alameda. If I could choose one word to describe it, it would be...hills. Or the complete oppossite of the area where I was serving for the last four transfers. But I love it here too!!!
There are no straight roads here and the map looks like someone dropped ramen noodles on the ground, but there are some of the most beautiful views from the tops of the hills!

Last week we met the most amazing family. One of the members from our ward gave a reference of her aunt and we have been getting to know her and her family. Her name is Eliza and she is one of the most kindhearted people I have met. She came to church with us yesterday and at the end of Relief Society, the RS president announced that the Sisters needed someone to give lunch on Saturday and next Sunday, and an Irmã volunteered for Saturday, and guess who volunteered for Sunday? Eliza! I was so touched that she is so willing to give everything she has. We have known her for so short a time, but she made certain that we always feel welcome in her home. She loved church and is so willing to learn about what changes she can make in her life to prepare to enter the church. Her daughter, Carina, is also taking interest in the church and says she wants to make changes and learn how to better help her young family (she has two beautiful kids who came to church with Eliza). Her kids are super adorable- they did not act out even once during church, and in the first lesson with them, they sat quietly and paid attention the whole time!! 

There is a giant prison in the middle of our area- Central Prison, and it is basically used as a reference point for everything. "I live on prison street......I live on the road behind the prison......I live three streets east of the prison......etc" and we walk past it basically every day. So naturally I have had time to reflect on what it truly means to be bound or to be free. We were teaching Renato, an 8 year old in the ward preparing to get baptized, and we shared about agency in 2 Ne 2:27. We discussed the two simple choices we have- liberty and eternal life through Christ, or captivity and death, being subject to the devil. He asked about what captivity means, and we explained that it means being bound by something, like being in prison. There is a definition of being captive that I found really interesting. Being captive is to be "held under control of another but having the appearance of independence......  being such involuntarily because of a situation that makes free choice or departure difficult " (merriam webster)
It made me think of the traps Satan uses to captivate us. With the appearance of freedom, he traps us. With the promise of being able to do 'whatever I want' he captivates us. 
The Savior does the complete opposite. He explains clearly the requirements of the law, asking complete obedience and explaining that it will not be easy, but true, eternal freedom is our reward. 
Exact obedience truly brings the greatest freedom. When we are obedient, we are happier and more confident. 

Obey the Lord! Be happy!

Sister Smith