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 

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