Tuesday, March 25, 2014

24 March 2014

So its officially been two days since I emailed and I have to admit not a whole lot has happened, but they were a great two days! 

One big surprise we got was that yesterday we were having a quick meeting with Bishop Munhoz and Irmão Olimpio (ward mission leader) and the other sisters and we found out that we had misunderstood the division of the ward because my companion had learned it wrong from her companion who learned it wrong from the previous companion and so forth, which probably began with a companionship that didn´t understand portuguese or something. Anyway, what this means for us is that we lost about 80% of our investigators, less actives, and members... yeah. So we have a great adventure ahead of us, basically starting from scratch. But I think that will be good for us, because it means that we have to basically completely rely on the Lord in everything. I will let you know how it goes. 

This week on divisions with Sister Diaz, we taught Bruno Eduardo (8 year old son of ward members who wanted him to have the missionary lessons) about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sister Diaz had made papers that had all the steps of the gospel with us at the beginning and a paper saying Heavenly Father at the end. We put those two on the floor, far apart, and he had to try to go from where we are to where Heavenly Father is in one giant step. Even with a running start and multiple attempts, he could not make it. However, when we put subsequent papers down with Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End, he was easily able to hop from one to the other. It made me thing of the next steps that we take after baptism, such as priesthood for young men, temple, temple marriage, etc, and reminded me that Heavenly Father has provided simple steps for our whole life and that He doesn´t expect us to do everything in one giant leap, rather little by little we can continually walk forward and progress toward Him. Bruno´s baptism was super well done and a wonderful experience for everyone, including some of his school friends and their families. The visiting families took home conference Ensigns that we had set out on a display table! We are going to follow up with Bruno´s family and hopefully start working with the families that came. 

Love you all!

Sister Smith

22 March 2014 - Pictures and a Temple Trip

So, first things first I didn´t email monday because our Pday was switched because we got to go to the Temple!!!!! It was awesome!! It reminded me a lot of the Columbus temple because they are basically the same blueprint. 

I love this ward! They are super supportive and wonderful. We meet with the ward council every week and they are so eager to help. There is always someone willing to give rides to our investigators. Bishop Munhoz is also amazing and every Sunday he picks up Yasmin and Nataly (8 and 11 year old girls that got baptized last month but don´t have family support to get to church). The big challenge here is finding investigators to bring to church! But with faith and work, this area has so much potential. 

This week was zone conference and it was super inspiring. Pres. Castro talked about the scripture story of Jacob and Esau and how Esau sold his birthright for a... I don´t remember if it is porrige or pottage but in portuguese it is lentils. So anyway Esau sells his precious rights and priviliges for a bowl of lentils that will last 20 minutes and then it gets digested. He likened this to keeping the commandments and rules. When we do not follow the commandments or keep the rules 100% we are selling our blessings and gifts for nothing. For example, as missionaries, we have access to so many gifts and abilities, such as the gift of tongues, discernment, etc, and we have the capacity to teach with the spirit and bless lives for eternity. However, if we decideto break even small rules that we don´t see a reason for, we are throwing away those rights and privileges because of laziness or rebellion. It was really great to reevaluate my service as a missionary and make sure that I am not giving up something expremely precious for something of no worth. Heavenly Father has so much in store for us, but it is up to us to choose to access it. It is worth the sacrifice! 

Love you all!

Sister Smith

1. Sister Hodnik, Samuel, Igor, Me (previous area)
2. At the temple
3.Elder Martin from Cincinatti! We had met before the mission but didn´t know we got called to the same mission
4.  S. Melo and Rosani (member from Jardim do Sol that we ran into at the temple!)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

10 March 2014

This week passed so fast, but it seems like 3 months of happenings were packed into one week of craziness!

Monday, when I was still in Jardim do Sol, we were waiting for the bus to pass to return home. We saw the bus for Junção Cassino passing, which is the bus that goes to the beach, but first passes through our neighborhood, so we got on, not knowing what were were getting into. The minute we stepped on the bus, I looked around and realized this was not just a regular night on the bus. As missionaries we are basically always out of the loop, so we did not realize that it was Carnaval!! Woo!! Which means that the bus was jam packed with people going to the beach, and for us meant that we were completely unable to move because the bus was so packed and they continued pushing more and more people into the bus. I have no idea how so many people fit. There was definitely not a Book of Mormon´s distance between any  of the people standing.  The problem is that you get on in the front, pay in the middle, and exit out the back. And we were stuck in the front and had no way to get to the back but had to descend before all the beach-goers. But don´t worry, it all worked out. We sent our money through a sea of hands, and by some miracle it made it to the cobrador (person who takes your money) and the change made it back. We told the driver we would have to descend in the front and that we had payed and we got off without incident. It was quite the adventure. 

So basically this area is super different from my first. Like complete opposites. Example: The first lunch with members we had here was at the Metrópolis, a super fancy restaurant. Bete and Paulo work as laywers so they had no way to make lunch at home, so they took us to their favorite restaurant that they eat at every day. We ascended an enormous staircase to be greeted by a waiter in a tuxedo, who led us to the table and made sure we were comfortable. The food was amazing, including a giant dessert buffet. 

The ward is super great and supportive. One of our investigators, Jailson, had no way to get to church, so a nice couple that lived nearby gave him a ride, and after the meetings, our ward mission leader, Olimpio, sat with him and answered his questions, making sure he was comfortable.

The biggest challenge with this area is probably finding new people to teach. Our area consists of upscale apartments where there is either a doorman, or one of thos boxes that you have to press tha apartment number to get permission to enter, which makes it really easy for people to turn us off. This just demonstrates the importance of member referrals! If you are not giving referalls to the missionaries start now! We are always so grateful when we receive a referall. 

We got to watch the CES fireside yesterday! This area is the Stake Headquarters, so all the events and broadcasts are at our building yessss. I loved when she compared learning a different language to learning the language of the Spirit. For me, this has a lot of significance because it took a while for me to understand exactly what everyone was saying, but even at the very beginning I could basically understand the gist of the conversation and was able to communicate basic ideas and feelings. I think I am still in the beginning phase of understanding the Spirit, but I can definitely understand bits and pieces, and that is enough to communicate effectively. The more I actively listen to people speak the language, the more I understand. The same goes with the language of the Spirit. It is a concept so basic but so important. D&C 8:2-3 teaches us that is is not a language that we just understand in our minds, but also in our hearts, so our heart and mind have to be in harmony one with the other, meaning we should let our spirit control our thoughts and feelings, and make them both virtuous and in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

Have a wonderful week!


Sister Smith

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

3 March 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Biggest news of the week: I´m getting transferred! I will be leaving Jardim do Sol and taking the 5 hour bus ride to Porto Alegre, serving in Ala 1 (Ward 1) which is the Mission President´s ward. My new companion will be Sister Melo, who used to be in the same zone as me. She is super energeting and nice. I am sad to leave this amazing area, but I am ready and excited for new challenges!

We taught Igor again this week and when he said the closing prayer, he asked that he would be able to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost soon. I know he is ready and I am sure his mom will let him get baptized soon. I´m really sad to miss his baptism, but I am happy knowing that he is making such a great decision. 

Heavenly Father really watches out for his missionaries. This week, we had one of those super dissapointing days, where everything fell through and it was raining and all that jazz. It ended well though, with our meeting with the ward mission leader, Elizandro Castro. He is a great support for us. He dropped us off at our house, and then just a few minutes later, we heard someone clapping at the front of the house. It was the Xis delivery boy! Irmão Elizandro had sent us Xis (giant cheeseburgers with lots of extra stuff, like eggs, multiple types of meat, special sauce, etc.)! It was a tender mercy on that challenging day. 

So this Saturday we had a missionary activity at the church- we opened the chapel for a public visitation. It was awesome! We weren´t expecting a whole bunch of people, and we didn´t have a whole bunch of people come, but some great things happened. First, Priscila brought her family to get to know the chapel. Her mom thought it was really awesome and I think she opened up more to the church. Irmã Bete, who is a returned missionary from our ward, helped show her around and helped make it a great activity. Also, a family that we had been teaching a while ago suddenly moved and we couldn´t find out where they went, but one of our investigators, Nicielli, who came to the visitation, is friends with them, so she took us there and we brought the 6 kids to visit the chapel! It was a grand adventure for them, and after the tour we put on the Testaments for them to watch with popcorn in one of the classrooms. 

We can look at any situation and choose to either see the good side or the bad. Someone could look a the activity and observe that basically no one from the general public came, but in my perspective the visitation was  grand success because we had some wonderful people there and the worth of one soul is so great in God´s sight that no effort is in vain if it put a smile on even one person´s face. God truly works with the one. The worth of souls is most clearly manisfested in the grandeur of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ. A talk from a 1978 Ensign on the worth of souls by Marion G. Romney is worth a read. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1978/10/the-worth-of-souls?lang=eng

Boa semana!

Sister Smith