Monday, November 17, 2014

17 November 2014

Wow. So I kind of feel like I was on the first week of my mission again because everything was new. So I told you all I was getting transferred to Pelótas, which I knew, but what I didn´t say (because I didn´t find out until I was practically going there) was that I would be opening an area. I don´t know how to say that in missionary english- basically there is a ward here in Pelótas where it has been elders basically since the beginning of time and last week President Castro took them out and decided to put in Sisters (where we come into the story). So. My area is named Gotuzzo. Which is the best kept secret of the mission. No one has ever heard of this area but secretly it is the BEST AREA IN THE WHOLE MISSION! In my opinion. Let me share some examples:

We get here late Tuesday night after traveling the whole day. A brigade of strong brothers from the ward awaits us at the bus station and takes our suitcases as we ride with the stake president and his wife to our new house. They carry up all our suitcases. I don´t even have to sweat. 

Wednesday morning we have district meeting and afterward aren´t sure if we have lunch. We start heading home when we get a text that says "I need to talk to you. Call me." I call. On the other end of the line is Tia Lú, a sister in the ward that says she has lunch ready for us and will wait at the bus stop so we know where to get off. After lunch she takes us to the house of our Ward Mission Leader, Irmão Jorge. He is super excited to get working and we make plans. That night, he and his wife drive us to the house of Gilsiane and Alexandre, a couple that started investigating the church about 7 years ago who Jorge thinks is ready to be invited to baptism. Gilsiane recently, after practiacally her whole life of smoking, succeeded in quitting. They are super receptive and we had a very beautiful and spiritual lesson. 

The ward was really excited to have sisters. We are their missionary princesses. We spoke on Sunday and after us spoke the Stake President. I spoke about how I love music and played in an orchestra and how in an orchestra everyone plays an importants role and each has a capacity to contribute, but not everone plays the same role. I read Ephesians 4:11-14 about our different callings and various scriptures from the gospels about Christ inviting us to follow him, like when in Matthew he invites him to leave his work (he is working at his tax desk I think) and follow him. And he follows without delay. Even though we are all different, we are following the same person. He is the conductor of the symphony and when we follow him exactly, each person´s different contribution will synchronize and become part of the beautiful symphony that Christ has in mind for us. 

Yesterday night we had a huge stake mission meeting (all the missionaries, bishops, WMLs and High Counselor over missionary work). It was legendarily inspiring. Everyone is so pumped up to do missionary work. The high counselor, Irmão Nico, is from our ward and he is a recent return missionary from Manaus and is super enthusiastic. One thing he did that was kind of cool was pass the numbers from the last trimester for us to see from all the wards/branches and then made huge circles around the numbers that were high/ideal from all the wards. For example, one of the wards had a lot of convert baptisms, and another ward had a really high retention percentage, and another ward had great success in ordaining the masculine converts, etc. The great thing was,  all the wards had different strengths. Irmão Nico invited each ward representative individually up to the front to teach the rest of the wards how they were able to have success in that strong point, and each was able to see how to turn a weak point strong through the example of others and each was able to have hope in their progress, focusing on what they had done well. 

EVERYONE gives us referrals. We have not walked out of a members house yet without them giving us someone to visit. If that is not the Lord pouring out blessings, I am not a missionary princess.

Some other adventures in opening an area: The apartment was uninhabitable, to be generous. I found a dried butterfly though. That was a bright moment.

I am becoming really really good at reading maps. I was already good but now I´m like the cake boss of maps. The map is my new best friend apart from real people.

My mouth is dry from talking to SO MANY PEOPLE! But here in the interior (like suburbs kind of but not exactly) people are quite receptive. 

The first or second day here I saw a sheep on a leash. Since then there have been various sightings of horses, cows, chickens, dogs, and cocroaches, both domestic and wild (the cocroaches are all wild, except Felix, one the size of my upper thumb joint that we found behind the sink today and domesticated but ultimately decided to spray and throw out) But what made me smile the most was the sheep. I thought it was a cute pet. Up until the stake president called the morning we were to have lunch at his house and asked one simple question "Do you eat lamb?" "Yes......" We replied "Okay, thanks. Bye"
You will not be surprised to hear what we had for lunch. Roasted lamb, Churrasco style. Don´t worry, this was not the same lamb that I saw the other day because this lamb was from Pinheiro Machado, a neighboring town, said President Julian. 

So. This is Pelótas. I admit I wasn´t 100% enthusiastic about coming here but even after this little time, I can already see why I came. The Lord is always so much smarter than us. It´s embarrassing some times. It always brings me back to yet another scripture mastery scripture, Isaiah 55:8-9. 

Love you guys. 

Sister Smith

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