Monday, January 27, 2014

Everything is Awesome 27 January 2013

Everything doesn't have to be perfect to make you feel like you have an awesome life. Take some time and count your blessings. 

Hello Everyone! 

So this week was awesome! They all are, but I haven´t been actively thinking of creative ways to start my letter. 

So yeah. It was a good week, but my companion was sick for most of the week so we had to stay in and weren´t able to do everything we wanted to. Don´t worry its not contagious, just bad reactions to some of the food and stuff.  But we still saw amazing blessings and the hand of the Lord working in our lives! 

For example, after lunch in Senandes (a neighborhood super far away from all the others) we only had a few people to visit in the neighborhood, so we went to visit a recent convert, Alexandre. We were expecting a super short hello goodbye how´s it going kind of visit, but we got talking with his mom, Marcia. She didn´t know a lot about the church, or really any church in general,  but she shared a little about what she personally believed. For example, she said something along the lines of ´I just can´t believe that people only have physical bodies, I believe that we all have spiritual bodies as well and that after we die, our spirits leave our physical bodies and continue living´ and we were like yes! That is what happens! We explained the Plan of Salvation in its entirety and she was really attentive. She still has some doubts/questions but it was an unexpected blessing to find her. She also showed us her backyard, where she basically keeps a billion chickens, cats, dogs, ducks, geese etc. It is kind of like a garden of Eden because none of them ever fight, and all of them roam free until the end of the day when they calmly return to their houses and sleep for the night. She gave us 2 dozen ovos caseiros (homemade eggs) to take home! It was pretty sweet. All of the animals were lovely except for this one chicken. She was pretty old, had lost most of her feathers, and the ones that were left are gray and sticking out every which way. I can safely say that it was the ugliest chicken I have ever seen. 

Also, I taught the lesson in Relief Society yesterday! Most of the Relief Society Presidency is traveling right now, so they needed a teacher. The topic was President uchtdorf´s talk from the Priesthood Session of last conference. It is a super great talk! I decided to take the viewpoint the atonement of Christ helps us 1) overcome weaknesses 2) become whole and clean from sin and 3) realize who we truly are. I prayed as I was preparing that I would be able to teach with the spirit and help the amazing Irmãs. I was kind of nervious that I wouldn´t be able to ask and answer the right questions and stuff, but it was great! I really felt the spirit guiding the lesson and am grateful for that help. Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us about trusting in the Lord. The way He will direct our paths is usually through the promptings of the Holy Ghost so we must always be worthy and listening for them. 

I hope you all have a fantastic week!!


Sister Smith

Thursday, January 23, 2014

20 January 2014


So basically this week was awesome!!!!! We have key indicators for each week, and this week we were challenged to have more lessons with members. We decided to reach out to the members and really ask for their help and the results were amazing! 

First off, there is a young man in the ward named Samuel. We didn´t even have to ask him, he always invites friends to church and stuff. He has a friend, Igor, that he invited to church and has been sharing the gospel with him. We already taught Igor once, and he said that since the first lesson, he hasn´t been able to stop reading the Book of Mormon! He was also excited to learn that just a month or so after he gets baptized, he can go to the temple! He really wants to go and already has a testimony that it is a sacred and beautiful place where you can feel the most marvelous feeling. After the lesson, we showed him a Mormon Message and he just kept clicking on more and more. He especially liked the message by President Hinckley that has the story of the two boys who decided to put a coin in the man´s boots instead of stealing them. When the younger boy suggested that they steal the boots, Samuel was shocked and said "Que feio!" which literally means ´how ugly´and is an expression you use when something is not very nice or is something shameful. He and Igor are exemplary young men and it was amazing to see how powerful a friend can be in bringing others to the gospel. Igor is ready to be baptized, but his mom wants to get to know the church a little better first. They live really far from the chapel, so we need your prayers to help them be able to come to church next week!

Also, we went on splits with some of the Young Women in the ward this week. Kelli, one of the young women, is amazing and is literally counting the months until she can go on a mission (she still has quite a few). When I was with her, we visited a less active member (Noemi) that Adriano (a young man in the ward) remembered hadn´t been to church in years. We clapped in front of the house (that´s how you knock here) and she came to the window. At first, she was kind of cold and said she didn´t really want anything to do with the church members and stuff but then she recognized Kelli because she and Kelli´s mom (Adriane) are really good friends still! She warmed up to us and invited us to come over for pancakes another day! Members can be an amazing help in ways that only Heavenly Father has planned. 

Also, a while back I mentioned Priscila, who is an amazing investigator who has such a strong testimony of prayer. We spent Christmas with her and her family and she wants to start a Zumba class at the church with the Young Women and Relief Society.  She is amazing! She has wanted to be baptized for a while but isn´t married to her "esposo" yet. She was pretty firm in her decision to marry at the end of this year when she graduates and has a party and a house, etc etc. We were sad, but glad that she is still going to church and stuff. We were thinking about her and planning and praying and we decided to set a date this week with her for baptism, even if it is way in the future. After we taught her about the Word of Wisdom, we suggested setting a date for baptism, and to our surprise she said that she and Jonathan had been thinking about getting married earlier in paper so that she could get baptised! It was an unexpected and amazing surprise! She said that she wanted to be baptized on her birthday (March 25) so they are preparing everything to be able to be married before then. Yay!!! It has truly been a week of miracles. 

Never give up on anyone. Heavenly Father is taking care of all of His children and knows exactly how to help them and in their time and in his own time, they will come around. If we decide to never give up on someone, we will have the privilege of being there when they need us most and being an instrument in the Lord´s hands in helping His beloved children. I don´t remember the chapter, I think it is Matthew 9 or maybe not. Hmm. I forgot to bring my bible. But anyway, remember the story of the man who sat by the pool of water waiting to be healed for 38 YEARS!?!?! That is a long time. And no one was there to help put him down into the water. BUT! Guess what happened? Christ came along and healed him. Just like that. After 38 years of thinking that his only hope was this fantastical pool of water, he comes to find out that the actual solution to his problem can be found in Christ. Christ is always the answer. He has the power to heal us of all our infirmities and the power to help each one of us in our moments of need. Sometimes we have to wait a long time, but help will always come. He will not leave us comfortless. Be that comfort to those who are waiting. 

I love you all!

Sister Smith

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two for One! 13 January 2014 and the week before

In case you didn't know, Kieren is a sweetheart. I really enjoyed her kind words and the nice update from the past two weeks. She left as an incredible person, but you can tell how good the past few months have been for her. Take the time to enjoy this letter, and send her some love when you get a chance (email:

Hello Everyone!

So last week as I was about to write, the computer blacked out. I only had 15 or so minutes left of computer time so I didn´t want to make a hassle. So. Sorry for not writing, but it was a great week last week! Lots of good lessons and stuff. 

The theme of these past two weeks is: reactivation!!!!!! I have learned time and time again that often all people need to come back to church is someone to take notice and care about them. Read the talk by Elder Uchtdorf from the last conference. I think it is called, Come, Join with Us or something like that. It is incredible and helps us gain perspective about how everyone is struggling with something or another, and we have the potential to act as God´s angels and help his beloved children. The talk explains how when people stop coming to church it is usually not for just one reason and not because they lack a testimony. There is a girl in our ward here that has been active since birth, goes every week, attended seminary daily, sometimes being the only one there, but is thinking about stopping going to church because she feels that there is not a single person there who cares about her or even notices that she is there. No one goes up to her and talks to her and she just sits in the back with her mom and leaves without having interacted with anyone. Imagine what difference it would make if just one person went up to her each week and talked with her for 2 or 3 minutes. It would make all the difference! 

Also, Miguel Janes, who went to the choir concert, came to church last week! And this week! And all we did was pass by his house, see if he was home, talk to him for a bit, and invite him to come back. This week he even brought his daughter, who is not a member! Last week, when he didn´t show up at the very beginning of church, we passed by his house and I yelled ´Miguel!!!´ until a very irritated sister of his came to the window and said he was getting ready but he was definitely going to come. It was such a wonderful feeling to see him at church. It had been years since he had come to church, and now he is even bringing his family. And all it took was a little reminder that someone was thinking of him. 

Also, a lady in our ward (Danielle) was concerned about her cousin Paloma, who hasn´t been coming to church for a while. We visited Paloma (super sweet, quiet 15 year old) and helped resolve some of her concerns. And guess who was at church on Sunday? Paloma. :)

Also, we had been visiting a girl named Gabriela for some time now. She is a single mom and works 6 days a week with only Sundays off. She is incredible. And she came to church last week! After years of not going! (She wasn´t there yesterday so we will have to see what is up and visit her). But people. It is so simple. Extend a hand of friendship. Notice those who are not in church, or those who are there but sitting along. Be the friend that Christ would be. Sometimes it is not that simple. Sometimes people won´t come back after one visit from a friend. But sometimes they will! And even if they don´t, the visit is well worth it. 

We often visit a less active member, Maritania. She has a son, Tiago, with Down´s Syndrome, and he is quite active and makes life pretty difficult for her. This visit, I sat on the couch with him and sang hymns. Every time we do that, he completely calms down and becomes practically a different person. I was also able to talk to him and calm him down when he was attacking my companion with chocolate. It sounds kind of funny probably but it was a really great experience because after we left, my companion said she was really impressed with how I was able to connect with Tiago. When you are in a foreign country and don´t know the language or culture perfectly, and you have a native companion, sometimes it feels like you don´t really have a lot of influence or make a big impact on people. I am also generally more reserved and don´t talk a bunch, but this experience was a testimony to me that all of us are needed in different ways and that there a place for each person´s gifts and skills to be used to help God´s children. 

Also, this week we were teaching an investigator named Anna. She recently moved from São Paulo and is having a hard time adjusting. She says she constantly thinks about desisting and gong back. She has a daughter, Mariana, and stays at home with her while her husband works at the Pier. When we were teaching a lesson with her, she told us that she had prayed that we would come back because she felt an emptiness in her heart and felt that we would be able to help her fill it. She is incredible and has great faith to stay here and work through her problems with the Lord´s help. It was a wonderful blessing to be an answer to her prayers. This is not the first time this has happened and I am sure it will not be the last. When we are doing the Lord´s work, He will always use us to answer the prayers of his beloved children. Don´t wait for someone to pull you out of your house or tell you they need help, just go do something good for someone else and you will be surprised with the results.

The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Each heart you touch is of inestimable worth. God is watching over each one of us. Christ is the good shepherd. He knows His sheep and they are numbered. 

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Smith

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

1 January 2014

A wonderful letter from Kieren.  It was so much fun to see her on Skype and talk to her on Christmas.  She looks more beautiful than ever,  radiant through the deep tan!  (read below)


Dearest loved ones,

So, Christmas came and went and it was absolutely fantastic! I kind of forgot it was Christma week because in my mind Christmas is so closely associated with snow, so it was more or less a normal week. But it was great fun! 

In Brazil, the biggest celebration for Christmas is at midnight on the 24th. As missionaries, we have to be home by the latest at 9:30, but President Castro extended our curfew to 11 on the 24th. We spent it at Priscila and Jonathan´s house. Jonathan is a member and Priscila is an investigator. She is amazing and has such a beautiful testimony, especially of prayer (all she needs is to get married and she is working toward that goal :D). She was so kind to us and made a HUGE dinner with a roasted turkey, potato and mayonnaise salad (a staple here),  various other salads and fruit and vegetable dishes, and three desserts of giantesque proportions. I don´t know how I still ended up looking adorable in the photos we took after eating all that food. It was a Christmas miracle. I will send the photos later as soon as I figure out how to avoid all the viruses on public computers :D They open their presents then, too, and she had wrapped up presents for Sister Hodnik and me as well. It was super fun :)

The day of Christmas, we went to Irmã Carmen´s for lunch and again, their was a mountain of food. She had made churrasco (the Brazilian barbecue with giant meats on giant skewers) as well as the potato-mayonnaise salad, other side dishes, and ice cream. And chocolate. And basically food here is a BIG DEAL. Because its not just on Christmas that we eat alot. Its every day. And everyone not only wants you to eat alot, but they also want you to eat more than you at at the other Irmã´s house, etc etc etc. So basically we eat to please. And we are pleased to eat. However, my companion and I have decided that we must maintain our health and therefore will be commencing a new years diet. We will see how it goes. 

After lunch and skyping with the fam, we went Caroling! La la la! There was another companionship of sisters with us so we sounded super lovely all harmonizey and stuff. I think it is much easier to carol in the heat than it is to try to sing in the snow, so that is a blessing. 

I bought a hat! It is one of those super cute beach sun-hat things. Sister Castro authorized us to use hats because the sun here is super harsh. We use a mountain of sunblock but I´m still getting darker. I have never been so tan in my life. My companion (who is from São Paulo) is lighter than me. But that is because she is of Italian descent. Anyway, this letter is probably sounding a bit scatterbrained. The power was out this morning in the neighborhood so we are emailing in the afternoon, to which I am not accustomed. 

Anyway. We are teaching this amazing family! We found them while tracting. The mom is named Adriana and the dad is Adriano. They are married!!!!!! (Which is kind of a big deal. Here the biggest problem with investigators is that they are not married. So many people only need to get married to get baptized, but anyway.) And they have 7 kids!!! They are all so cute and funny and they think I am hilarious which is always a good sign. I did a fist pump the first time we met with them and they thought it was the funniest thing and now everytime they see us coming all of them always fist pump. It is super cute. 

Oh! And Irmã Carmen got to go through the temple for the first time on Saturday!!!! We visited her the day before and helped answer some questions and stuff. She was so excited and looked radiant on Sunday at church. She has only been a member for about 3 years, and she is always helping out. She gave a talk and told the whole ward that they should help out the missionaries (us). She is so sweet and truly an example of Christlike love and service. 

Anyway, it was a lovely week. I was reading a really good talk from this past conference that is about the enabling power of the Atonement. I don´t remember who gave it or the exact title, so you should all just read all the talks with Atonement in the title! Also, another cool thing I read today was in True to the Faith, under the section about the Holy Ghost. When we learn more about the Holy Ghost, it welcomes him more into our lives. Just as when we converse with a friend and find out about their lives we become closer, so it is when we learn about the Holy Ghost, or study about Jesus Christ, or our Father in Heaven. The more we know about them, the closer friends we can become and the more influence they will be able to have in our lives. Also, as we learn more, we can become more like them, until we ´receive the image of Christ in our Countenances.´  Each member of the Godhead plays a specific and vital role in our lives. Heavenly Father (Matt 7:7-11) Jesus Christ (Alma 7:11-13) and the Holy Ghost (Moroni 8:26-see also Preach My Gospel section about the Holy Ghost). God is our loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. The Holy Ghost testifies of the Father and the Son and guides us, consoles us, and protects us. I know that they love us and know us individually. They can be our best friends and help us in times of need as well as celebrate with us in times of triumph!

Have a beautiful week :D
Boa semana!

Sister Smith