Friday, May 16, 2014

12 May 2014

Woohoo! So Mother´s Day was yesterday (obv) so I got to talk to the family!!! It was wonderful. We talked at Lilian and Rogério´s house and, true to gaúcho tradition, of course had to have a churrasco afterward with what I think was giant roasted ox ribs. The whole piece of meat was enormous.

This week was super awesome. During Ward Council Tuesday night, Irmão Ricardo was recounting how the quorum helped integrate Geovane during his visit to church, and then he told us a story that Geovane had shared that he had not shared with us. Ricardo said that Geovane was very communicative during the lesson and that he shared an experience of how he was recently dealing with some legal difficulties where he was completely innocent but there were many complications and things just weren´t going right. One day, two sister missionaries (us) came knocking at his door and asked to share a message. He said that since that day, the whole situation took a 180 degree turn and everything seemed to fall into place. He took that as a sign that he should come to church and maybe listen to our message. That was so cool to hear. 

Also, for the first time ever, I walked into my bedroom one morning and saw a salamander on the wall! I had seen some on outside walls before but never inside a house. It was pretty awesome. I wanted to capture him and release him outside, but before I knew it my companion had killed him. Poor little guy.

PAUSE- just got the news that I am being the other side of the ward!!! My new companion is Sister Foutz and I just love her and I still get to be in the same ward as Sister Melo and we are going to do great things and I am so happy!!! Okay back to the letter. 

Also, this week we needed someone to help us out and Nina, a young woman in the ward and daughter of our mission president, offered to get out with us. It was a great day! First, we weren´t finding anyone at home, but we finally found a less active member at home and then we were going to visit Cleisé, but as we approached her apartment, we saw a woman sitting on the stairs a couple doors over. We went and talked to her and it turns out that she was locked out of her house and said, yes, certainly she has time to hear our message! Sometimes I think Heavenly Father is really clever. Her name is Izabel and she was very receptive to the message. Afterward, we asked her if she knew anyone who needed a message and she thought for a minute and then said that she knew a man, Nilton, who lost his wife a couple months ago and perhaps a message would help. However, she did not know the address. She told us to go up those stairs on the other side of the park and it´s an apartment on the ground floor. That was helpful, but upon arrival at the top of the ancient stone stairs, we faced a view of a bunch of apartment buildings, with quite a few of them on the ground floor. Being two story buildings, just about half of them fit that description. Nevertheless, we went forth and while Sister Melo knocked on a second-story door, Nina and I rang the doorbell of an apartment with an open window. An elderly man answered the door, and I don´t know why but after saying hi, the first thing I asked was "Are you Nilton?" which would be pretty awkward if he wasnt, but he said yes! We explained how we had just talked to Izabel and would like to share a message with him. He was about to leave to pick up his granddaughter but wanted us to come back another day!

We had some other great experiences and lessons, and to finish off a great day we happened to pass in front of my favorite laundry places. We do laundry at home, but I like this laundry place because it is run by 5 friends and they are hilarious. One day we were talking to a couple of them about the church and gave them pass-along cards. About a week later 
(this week) Pablo, a very excited man from Uruguay, called us over as we passed by and said, come look! We entered the laundry place and he showed us his desk where he had placed the pass-along card with a picture of Mary and Jesus on the wall. Then he showed us his industrial washing machine where he had placed another of the same picture. I think he took one of his friend´s pass-along cards, but it was great to see that he was so excited about the cards. 

We seriously had an awesome time with Nina. When we work with members, there is a different energy. Thanks for all you guys do to help the missionaries in your area. I came up with my new motto:
"It´s always better with a member."

Although at first, no one was home that day and it didn´t look so great, we ended up continuing and had one of my most memorable days on the mission. 

May we always remember to stand a little taller and be a little better. I love the quote from Elder Eyring´s talk "Act in All Diligence." I think I have quoted that talk before. I just like the talk. Anyway, he says "When I find myself drawn away from my...duties by other interests and when my body begs for rest, I give to myself this rallying cry: "Remember Him." The Lord is our perfect example of diligence in priesthood service. He is our captain. He called us. He goes before use. He chose us to follow Him and to bring others with us." Whenever it gets hard, or even when it is easy, Remember Him. He is our brother and friend and Savior. 


Sister Smith

Me at Guaíba, where we have meetings every other week

Sister Melo and me during our last few days as companions. She is really talking to heart Pres. Hinkley´s suggestion to stand a little taller. 

Also, I attempted to make chocolate chip cookies but it didn´t go so well the first time. No, they are not chocolate-chocolate chip. Just chocolate chip. They should be a nice golden brown. The second time worked out a little better. Yes, these are chocolate-chocolate chip cookies so the darker color is natural, don´t worry. 

5 May 2014

So, this week started out with good luck. As we were leaving a buffet on pday with some of the missionaries from our zone, a bird pooped right on my foot. I don´t know how it managed to land on my foot and not my head (not complaining, just wondering) but Elder Villena assured me that in Peru, that is a sign of good luck, so I knew that this would be a great week. 

On Tuesday, we had the first annual Sister´s conference! It was absolutely amazing and great to see my old companions again- Sister Cummings from the MTC, Sister Mileib and Sister Hodnik. Presidente Castro gave us a training using two of the Mormon Messages videos- Recuperado (Reclaimed-Its the one about the dump that was made into a park and an airport) and the one about the ugly duckling by President Uchtdorf. He assured us of the power of Christ´s atonement and then also told us to never let anyone make us feel like we are the ugly duckling. As I was relating what we learned later in the week to our zone leader, I realized that it was definitely a conference meant for sisters. I imagined Presidente Castro telling all the elders not to feel like ugly ducklings. Sister Castro also gave us little mirrors to carry in our bags and told us to make sure that our countenance always reflects the light of Christ. 

So I thought that it was funny that the twin daughter´s of our Ward Mission Leader are named Helen and Helena (still can´t remember which is which. I think I may ask this week if I can call one of them Susan), but this week I heard of another set of twin names that made me smile. The first twin is named Maxwell. The other is named Swellmax. I think I have just found another addition to my list of possible children´s names. 

I got to play the violin in church this sunday! It was super fun and the ward got excited and had me play in the primary as well. I had forgotten how much fun primary was. One of the primary boys, Samuca,  gave a wonderful talk about Noah´s Ark. He stood up and in a very official tone, spoke of how he would address a very important topic today. Summarizing/translating his talk, it was something like this "This is Noah´s ark (pulled out a plastic ark from under the pulpit). Well, its not literally his ark, it is actually a Fisher Price model. It should also be noted that the model is not of actual size. It was much bigger to fit all those animals. Anyway, Noah warned all the people but only a few listened, eight to be exact. The people included not just his immediate family but a few others as well. Anyway, they got in the ark and then came a super hyper mega flood and destroyed everyone else. I think it would really stink not to have been on the ark. I don´t think I would have been able to make it in that water. Anyway, the lesson we can learn from this story is that it is always better to be obedient." Primary kids know how to make things simple. 

So this week was really great as far as good lessons, etc, and we had a bunch of people that said they would be able to come to church, so we were super excited for Sunday...and then Sunday morning we started getting phone calls one by one saying that they wouldn´t be able to come. It was a little dissappointing, but at least they called (optimism)! So we were at the church running through the musical number, when a miracle happened- we looked to the chapel door and saw Geovane standing there in his jazzy windbreaker! We practically ran to him, shook his hand, and introduced him to Olimpio (WML). The ward member who was going to accompany him to church was not able to get ahold of him, so we thought he was going to bail. He had never been to church before and we didn´t even know he knew where it was!  Geovane said that he rembered that one time we mentioned it was in front of the Instituto de Coração, so he just got in his car and started driving. He is a bus driver, so he knows the city pretty well, and he said after he got to the IC, it was super easy to find the church. Heavenly Father was truly guiding him and it made our day yesterday that he came. 

On Saturday, we met a new investigator- Cleisé -who the elders actually found during distrito amigo. She struggles with depression and various difficulties, and was really receptive to our message. Her house is being reformed so she asked if we could go to the park in front of her house. It was a really nice setting and a highlight of the week because the spirit testified strongly of the truthfulness of the first vision and the Book of Mormon. 

Make new friends this week! Visit people and make them feel loved!


Sister Smith 

 Deborah and baby Alice-This week we had lunch with Deborah and Jefferson, a couple in our ward who just had their first baby!

Sister Cummings and Sister Holden (and me)

Sister Rosario, Sister Hodnik, Sister Biddulph (and me)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

28 April 2014

So this week was lovely! I feel like we are seeing some great progress in the area.
In addition to the violin lessons we are holding, we started offering guitar and piano at the same time! All four of us sisters in this ward play some sort of instrument or sing and its been great to serve the members and community. Sandra (mom of a young man, Vitor, who joined the church in the last couple of years) is learning the guitar with Sister Melo. There really is a timing for everything. For quite a while, Vitor has been going to church alone or with his younger sister, but now his mom is starting to show interest. This week we had two activities at the activity house- a clothing exchange and an integration activity with a film and snack. Sandra came to both and at the first activity, everyone was introducing themselves, and when Sandra got up she talked about how at first she came to church just to support Vitor but now she is going because her own free will because she feels good. We had a family night with her and Vitor and the other sisters and watched Finding Faith in Christ. Afterward, Vitor said he wanted to share a scripture and we read together and afterward he shared his testimony and we all shared our testimonies. The Spirit was so strong there and I know she felt it. This is the time the Lord has prepared for her to progress and Vitor is really excited and is being blessed for his patience. Unfortunately, Sandra lives in the area of the other sisters so we don´t get to visit her often, but we see her at church and activities and she is just wonderful!
Also, our lives are just so filled with blessings if we stop to think about it. Today (Pday) Sister Melo was buying a new outfit for the Sister´s Conference and I was looking at the cheetah print section of the store (animal print is something that I think will never be hard to find here) and I thought back to two transfers ago when I came so close to buying a floor length cheetah print dress with lace pockets. It was a beauty but I feel really grateful that I felt impressed not to buy it even though my companion thought it would be stunning on me. It would have been stunning, yes, but it was very expensive and I don´t need it and probably would not use it a whole bunch and I just felt grateful for that today.
Also, Barbara and Hellen came to church again yesterday!! They are so adorable and were trying to learn how to cunduct music during sacrament meeting. We keep trying to find a time when their dad is home because we have only been able to talk to him on the phone and we need to talk to him in person to get permission for their baptisms, but whenever we go he is either working/sleeping or hiding from us. The latter is my personal opinion. So please pray for them because they are so wonderful and read the Book of Mormon together and mark it and pray and I just love them.
Oh, and we also had another investigator, Shirley, come to the clothing exchange. She is a spunky 75-year-old who just thought it was the best thing ever. Before the activity, we met up with her on a corner in front of a giant church and walked arm in arm, the three of us, to the activity, with Shirley in the middle. We got to the edge of a curb that dropped off and I said jokingly, "let´s jump!" and to my surprise she leaped up in the air and pulled us along with her. When I laughed she was like "what? You said to jump!"
During the get to know you part of the activity (the same one where Sandra shared her experience) one of the ladies in the ward (Inês) was talking about how Relief Society has helped her and has made her a better daughter, sister, mom and wife, and then she said, ´well, not exactly wife because right now I am in need of a good man' and Shirley, who was seated by my side, called out "É isso aí!" which is basically like (liberal translation) "Amen, sister, that makes two of us!" She is super funny and I just love her.
I have been thinking a lot this week about perspective. I think it was Bishop Munhoz who told the story of how Sherlock and Watson were out camping and woke up in the middle of the night. Sherlock asked Watson "what do you see?" He responded, I see a beautiful starry sky, trees blowing in the wind, and a lake in the distance." After a minute, Watson returned the question. Sherlock responded "I see someone stole our tent." Its amazing how two people can be in the exact same place or circumstance but look at it so differently.
Our differences are what makes the world interesting, but despite are differences, when we are focused on the Lord, we can become one, like the people of Zion in Moses 7:18. In English is talks about "one heart and one mind", but the translation in portuguese is "um coração e uma vontade" which means one heart and one will. I thought that difference was enlightening because the people that make up Zion are not robots who always have the same opinion but rather people who have the same purpose and are one in that way. And the "one will" that they have is the will of God. When a group of people are all focused on bringing about the will of God, they become unified, become one. That is how a church of over 15 million different people with 15 million opinions and life experiences can work as one great whole to bring about the salvation of makind.
An eternal perspective is the best perspective. Christ lived for us, died for us, and now He lives again. Life does not end with death. Because of the love of God for each one of us, we can live again with Him.

Sister Smith