Sunday, July 27, 2014

21 July 2014

This week we fasted. Ladies and Gentlemen, fasting is a miraculous tool that the Lord uses. So in a lesson with Nara we noticed a change. We answered her questions as usual (she always has great questions) and when we touched again on the subject of faith, she said that she thinks her faith is greater than she had thought before. And we showed her all the requirements for baptism and all that she would need to do and learn and she said, "I already know 99% of this stuff!" She also asked us why everyone is so happy in the church and if they are always like that? Yes. Yes they are. We explained that the church is full of imperfect people but people that are striving to do and be the best they can and when a life or a family is centered on Christ, we can find joy even during the hard moments. It has been a miracle to see the changes taking place in her.
She also told me that she thinks I have the personality of a mãezona, which is like a super mom that just wants to hug everyone and scatters sunshine. I was like what? me? The quiet, serious, helpless missionary? I accepted the compliment but it shocked me a little. But looking back, I realized that I am not the missionary that I was just a few months ago. I have really changed since the beginning of my mission. Not that I was super anti-social or anything, but I have really learned how to smile, how to be myself, how to love and more importantly show my love, because as Shakesepeare writes "They do not love that do not show their love." This change in me, that in truth is still in progress, is all due to the atonement of Christ. It is the atonement that makes change possible. It is the atonement that allows us to become people that we never imagined we could become.

Elder Bednar mentioned this enabling power of the atonement.

“I frankly do not think many of us ‘get it’ concerning [the] enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenlybelieve we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, andwith our obviously limited capacities.”2 
“The enabling power of the Atonement strengthens us to do and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity.”
In the strength of the Lord we can do all things. (See Alma 20:4).

I testify that this is true. With the Lord´s help, we can become infinitely more that we can alone. I am so grateful for what the Lord has done and is doing for me and for our investigators. It is truly He that works the miracles.
Also this week was kind of exciting because at nearly midnight on saturday we recieved a call from the assistants, which always means something exciting. So the sisters from a neighboring city had their microwave explode and their house catch on fire. They escaped and are fine but the apartment is completely destroyed. So they are our houseguests! Just for a day or two because they already have another apartment getting set up. It was truly incredible how the Lord protected them. One of the sisters has been sick with Dengue and she woke up with pain, and woke up her companion. It was only then that they percieved the smell of smoke and were able to evacuate. The Lord truly uses means to prepare and protect his children. (Alma 37:6-7). Sometimes being sick is a blessing!
Anyway, it was a normal (AKA great!) week other than that. 
Sister Smith

14 July 2014

So Big news of the week: Bruno got Baptized!!! So I don´t know how many of you have watched The Best Two Years, but our experience with Bruno this week reminded me of a quote that the new elder (Calhoun?) says before he talks to the investigator guy the first time. He asks his trainer about a bunch of stuff and then asks, "but what if he gets so excited...he just want´s to be baptized!?" The trainer tells him then to take down his number and his measurements and tell him we will call. That´s what we did with Bruno. He just got so excited during the lesson and said that he didn´t want to wait to be baptized. We told him the earliest it could be was after church on Sunday. So bishop found him a baptismal suit and we got everything set up and ready. He has been studying at home loves the Book of Mormon and before his baptismal interview he said he has already set aside his tithing!

Bruno is an evidence that the Lord is truly going before our face and preparing the hearts of His children to receive the word. He was truly someone who was “kept from the truth [only] because they know not where to find it”(D&C 123:12). I have never met anyone so truly willing to act and to change. Mateus, a young man from our ward, helped us to teach him and took him to Institute on Saturday and church on Sunday. Mateus leaves for his mission in Boston today! and was so happy to be able to have played a part in helping Bruno get baptized. Bruno got rid of the coffee in his apartment right after we taught about the Word of Wisdom and we are going with him this week to the Center of Autosufficiency (is that what it is called?) of the church to help him find a job where he doesn´t have to work Sundays.We feel so blessed to have the opportunity to teach Bruno. The Lord truly placed Him in our path. Bruno thought it was funny that we were so shocked that he wanted to get baptized so soon. I think pleasantly surprised was a better word.
The baptism was lovely and President Castro was there with his family and confirmed him with a beautiful blessing, with great promises and encouragement for him to stay strong in the church for the rest of his life. This is the first time President Castro and Sister Castro have actually come to the ward (they live in this ward) since March when I came (they travel and visit other wards basically every Sunday) so that was a special treat. I love that family. Nina, their daughter, is so wonderful and she helped us teach a few lessons this week, with Dirceu and another with Glessi, a lady that was so pleased to have us in her home because she said that no pastor, cleric, etc has ever actually visited her even after asking. 

Nara came to church again and stayed for the Baptism. She found it all very interesting and lovely and even though she says she is still having difficulty feeling faith, she is keeping all her committments and is opening up to the idea of her very own baptism! It was funny because last week we had given her a talk and when we asked her what she learned she was like "It fit just like a glove! You did that on purpose!" And we were like yes, Nara, yes we did. And in the middle of the lesson we assigned her to read Alma 32 (without mentioning the contents), and then we talked a bit more and after discussing a bit about why there is suffering on earth and answering her question about how will God be able to fit so many resurrected people here on earth (he has prepared three kingdoms of glory). We asked her about her faith and she said it was still small, but she feels like a little seed has been planted, and then we said, great! That is exactly what the chapter we assigned talks about, in those very words! And she was a little taken aback and again said "How did you know! You did that on purpose!" Yes, yes we did. But only with the help of the Spirit. It is fun to teach her because she has great questions and somehow the questions she asks lead exactly to the next point in the lesson!
Dirceu came to church again. He gave us and Nara a ride and on the way there, he said he didn´t know if he would be able to stay until the end because he had to hang his clothes out to dry. We told him that the clothes will still be there when he gets back. He stayed. He is funny because he always talks like he is not going to do anything, but he always does. And, true to form, he gave us oranges and bergamotas (clementines I think?).
And! With the help of the Relief Society, we furnished some clothes for Yasmim´s dad, Sandro, and he finally came to church. He said he won´t promise anything about baptism, but he wan´t to be more active in supporting Yasmim. Yay for families!!!!!
The Lord truly works miracles. None of the blessings of this week could have happened without him.
Love you guys!

30 June 2014

Dearest Friends,
This was a great week. Renata got baptized!!!!!! Woohoo!!!! It was a beautiful day. She is one chic lady. She got new highlights this week and to accompany the simple white baptismal suit she wore peach stilettos up until the moment of the baptism, a nice touch I thought. I got to play the violin and give a spiritual thought. Izabel, her less active mom, came and loved it! She even gave the opening prayer. I just love those two.
Rewind to the beginning of the week. Renata basically disappeared. She started working at her new job-the one that she doesn´t have to work Sundays! But that means she basically works every single other day late until the night and we just weren´t catching her at home or being able to get ahold of her on the phone. We passed by literally every day, usually multiple times and Thursday night we were about to give up. We needed to still teach her some things and finalize plans and it seemed like she just wasn´t on board.  We called and called and...nothing. We decided it was too late that night to call and cancel the interview and tell the ward it was off, so we went to bed sad and worried. But! Miracle! Izabel called first thing in the morning, we set up a time to teach her, the interview went smoothly on Friday and she was super happy and excited! She had had a crazy week but we were so happy that she was still really wanting to get baptized. She has been reading the scriptures daily and everything. She is an amazing lady. 

Other than that the week was pretty smooth. Dirceu´s new favorite hobby is to give us food. We ran into him on the street today and he gave us peanuts. Also Ana Grahl made us a cake and waffles and burritos because she knew transfers were today. Oh! Transfers! I will stay here in Ala 1 (yes!)  and I will be training. Pray for me. I am nervous. But the good kind. The anxious excited kind.
We had a Fest Junina (festival based on Catholic St. John but now is basically a hilbilly party with wassail made of grape juice. And lots of corn cakes. And square dancing of which I was tempted but did not participate. Tbt 4th grade square dancing in the Elementary School gym).
Well, thats about it for this week. Stay strong and never give up. When we are least expecting it, Heavenly Father will always surprise us with a miracle. When we are diligent, the miracles happen in ways that we least expect. The Bible dictionary defines diligence as "Consistent, valiant effort, especially in serving the Lord and obeying His word" Ergo, like Rome diligence isn´t built in a day. But with diligence, coupled with obedience, we will truly be able to "win the prize" (Mosiah 4:27) which prize is better than the World Cup (speaking of which, two Brasil games this week with U.S. and Brasil still in the tournament. I will have to choose loyalty soon...), better than a free handful of peanuts, and even better than cake or waffles. It is a prize that never ends. Eternal life. That´s what we are aiming for people.
Love you!

Sister Smith