Tuesday, August 26, 2014

24 August 2014

So August basically came and went without me realizing it. Wow. 

Weather update: everyone said "get ready, winter is coming...." for two or three months. It never came. Now spring is here but feels like summer. But it is raining today! Which is a blessing because I left my sunscreen at my old apartment and I already am sunburnt. 

So, update on my life- it´s been a while since I wrote details and I can´t remember what I have already said. So....

I am here in Alameda with Sister Silva, but we live in an apartment with four sisters (for the first time in my mission!!), Sister A. Oliveira (new on the mission) and Sister Melo (one of my old companions :D ). Life in four is an adventure. There is never a dull moment. 

So these past couple weeks I got to know area Alameda. If I could choose one word to describe it, it would be...hills. Or the complete oppossite of the area where I was serving for the last four transfers. But I love it here too!!!
There are no straight roads here and the map looks like someone dropped ramen noodles on the ground, but there are some of the most beautiful views from the tops of the hills!

Last week we met the most amazing family. One of the members from our ward gave a reference of her aunt and we have been getting to know her and her family. Her name is Eliza and she is one of the most kindhearted people I have met. She came to church with us yesterday and at the end of Relief Society, the RS president announced that the Sisters needed someone to give lunch on Saturday and next Sunday, and an Irmã volunteered for Saturday, and guess who volunteered for Sunday? Eliza! I was so touched that she is so willing to give everything she has. We have known her for so short a time, but she made certain that we always feel welcome in her home. She loved church and is so willing to learn about what changes she can make in her life to prepare to enter the church. Her daughter, Carina, is also taking interest in the church and says she wants to make changes and learn how to better help her young family (she has two beautiful kids who came to church with Eliza). Her kids are super adorable- they did not act out even once during church, and in the first lesson with them, they sat quietly and paid attention the whole time!! 

There is a giant prison in the middle of our area- Central Prison, and it is basically used as a reference point for everything. "I live on prison street......I live on the road behind the prison......I live three streets east of the prison......etc" and we walk past it basically every day. So naturally I have had time to reflect on what it truly means to be bound or to be free. We were teaching Renato, an 8 year old in the ward preparing to get baptized, and we shared about agency in 2 Ne 2:27. We discussed the two simple choices we have- liberty and eternal life through Christ, or captivity and death, being subject to the devil. He asked about what captivity means, and we explained that it means being bound by something, like being in prison. There is a definition of being captive that I found really interesting. Being captive is to be "held under control of another but having the appearance of independence......  being such involuntarily because of a situation that makes free choice or departure difficult " (merriam webster)
It made me think of the traps Satan uses to captivate us. With the appearance of freedom, he traps us. With the promise of being able to do 'whatever I want' he captivates us. 
The Savior does the complete opposite. He explains clearly the requirements of the law, asking complete obedience and explaining that it will not be easy, but true, eternal freedom is our reward. 
Exact obedience truly brings the greatest freedom. When we are obedient, we are happier and more confident. 

Obey the Lord! Be happy!

Sister Smith

Thursday, August 7, 2014

7 August 2014

It´s Wednesday! (I forgot to mention that we get to go to the temple today so Pday switched)
Yay for going to the temple!!!! I am super pumped!!!!
So, yesterday we were walking along and trying to find people and visiting some addresses we had and nothing was going right! I was stressed out. We have been coming across a lot of rejection recently, which I can deal with, I think I was more worried about how we were going to find people teach because there are only so many houses at which we can knock (like 20) and the rest are apartments, which is significantly more difficult. But anyway, these were all my faithless thoughts and I couldn´t think of any way to be more effective in talking to the people and I was in this state of what can I think of what can I do? I don´t know how to make this all work.

I was right. don´t know how to make this all work, but God does. Our district leader counseled us to say a prayer, and ask for guidance in what to do. We stopped, said a prayer under a lovely tree, and I really asked, out of the sincerity of my heart, to know who to talk to and what to do. I realized that I was depending completely on me. And I´m smart and capable, but not that smart and capable. And in missionary work, no one is smart and capable without God´s help.

The results were incredible. We started going again and I saw a young lady walking our way. I approached her with a  new hope. Miracle! She was really nice and friendly and was headed to work, but said we could visit and she is available weekends. She seemed really interested and was very nice. People! It has been a while since one of these happened! And the first person after the prayer. I think God was trying to say, this is what happens when you trust me. Next, we found a door to knock at! (I think we literally knocked at every house we passed- there is normally a bunch of apartment buildings and every once and a while a house stuck in the middle) and the young man who attended said he lives with his grandma and we can call to see when she will be home so we can visit! Things continued uphill and we were able to teach some lessons finally. It´s amazing how the Lord can turn a situation around. This is truly his work.

It´s good to pray when you have no idea what to do or are at the end of your rope. It is better to pray before that happens, counseling with the Lord so that he can direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6, Alma 37:37) And it is best to always have a prayer in our hearts, and always have our thoughts turned to the Lord, because we know who doesn´t want us to pray.... (2 Ne 32:8-9)
Say your prayers! Not just morning and night, but afternoon as well. And always. And be sincere and trust in the Lord. He knows exactly what he is doing.
Love you!!!
Sister Smith

Also, Nara was traveling the week to Rio and she brought us back the cutest souvenirs! A wall decoration with a princess and our names burned into the wood. Basically she is amazing. Oh and also, her phone got ruined when the tide rose and got her backpack wet, but we didn´t know that so I was super worried because we werent able to get ahold of her for various days, and her doorman said he didn´t see her get back from vacation, and it was already past the day when she was going to get back. BUT! Later that lovely day after the prayer, we got a phone call from an unknown number. It was her! She had gotten a new phone and walked all the way to the mission office (!!!) to get our phone number. And then she called us. She is amazing. 

Random pics from Zone conference:
1. Most of our zone
2. Sister Pikula!!
3. Lunch @ Grelhatos w/ the ladies from our district