Sunday, December 28, 2014

22 Dezembro 2014

First of all, shoutout to Mr. Elder Daniel Gavin Smith the best Mexican brother ever! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!

This week was super louco crazy. 

Monday: Singing in the city center! It was a miracle. We got together in the downtown chapel and worked the hymns. We hadn´t been able to get ahold of the city events coordinator the whole week so we went on faith. We got to this great frountain in the middle of the Praça Osório which had dancing water and lights show and we thought, hey this is a great place! Lots of people, great local, let´s get started. Just as we were getting organized Bam! LA DA DA DA DINGA DONG WHOOSH BANG! The loudspeakers all over the plaza started blasting exciting orchestral christmas music and the fountain water danced along.

Oookay. We aren´t really equipped to compete with that....But we had said lots of prayers that this would go well, so we started brainstorming. Pres. Juliano (our awesome stake presidente that is SUPER involved in the missionary work in the stake) and one of our Zone leaders went over to a glass booth and found the sound guy. They asked if he could turn off the music for like 15 minutes for us to sing and... miracle! He said yes! So on his signal, the music went off and we sang. Wow. It was a lovely moment. Afterward we handed out those new "Ele é o presente" pass along cards and a bunch of people loved it! 

We figured out that in the front of our house there is a lovely track and nice foresty park area. I don´t know how we missed it because it basically goes along the entire avenue, but we decided to start using it for exercise! So Pelótas is a pretty big city but we live in a part that has a very small town feel, evidenced by the fact that after the first day we went running, everyone in the ward knew about it by the time evening fell. A brother in the ward passed by us on his bike on the way to work and a sister in the ward saw us from her bus stop.  We feel very important or at least interesting because we always make the ward gossip circle even with the simplest things. 

Oh, and I had a wonderful birthday! It was funny because when we went to visit one of our investigators, she had a bunch of people over, and we found out it was her birthday party! So we sang a hymn for her. We didn´t mention it was my birthday but I kind of felt like it was my party too. Just pretend. But we didn´t stay long and made some other visits and then all of a sudden the Ward Mission Leader called and asked if we could stop by before our stake mission meeting. We were like sure, and when we got there, SURPRISE! It was a party. There was a giant chocolate cake and homemade bread and juice. Heaven. Then suddenly, the doorbuzzer rang. Surprise! Another cake! This was was round and had two layers! Then suddenly there is a knock on the door. Surprise! Another cake! This was was an orange cake, hot and fresh from the oven. Then suddenly someone just walked in. Surprise! Another cake! Well, this was was more like a breakfast casserole type thing. Then suddenly another family came in. Suprise! Another cake! This one was a yellow cake with chocolate sprinkles. She also brought a cuca goiabada (bread with doce de goiaba and crumbly sugar stuff on top). We had to leave for a meeting but we found out today that another irmã brought... surprise! Another cake! Chocolate. I love this ward. I was struggling there at the end but I ate at least a little bit of everything. 

To top it all off, at our stake missionary meeting there was ice cream! And they sent me home with an extra tub! 

So, dear friends and family, if you were wondering, I was very well cared for on this my special day.  

Random fun fact. Pres. Juliano, who is a member of our ward, is like this super inpiring, energetic, motivating leader. We had lunch with him and his wife, Michele, and kids, Sophia and Rafaella when suddenly his phone, which is normally on silent, rang. 50 points to guess the ringtone.
Imagine helium-style high pitched voice and funky high pitched percussion"she´s got the applebottom jeans and the boots with the fur, with the furr..." haha I think I have decided my future ringtone.

Friday we made the cookies for the ward party for a Young Women´s activity. SO. Many. sugarcookies. And one of the Young Women brought her friend who is starting to investigate the church! 

On a serious note, the councilor to our mission presidency, Pres. Ricardo Alves, passed away unexpectedly Saturday morning. We were able to go to his viewing. It was a very solemn experience for all involved and if you guys could pray for his family they are having a really hard time. He has a lovely wife, daughter, and two young sons. 

Due to the occurence, our ward activity was cancelled on Saturday, so we were stuck with enough cookies to feed the ward. We had the idea to decorate a bunch superfast and then we delivered them to less active and investigator families. It actually went pretty well! Even though it decided to rain, the cookies were double-plated--that old crafty trick where you put one upside down plate on top of the other. The contents were all protected. Win. 

Pres. Juliano shared a talk at ward conference. He talked about how a while back the ward was going to the temple. There were several people driving, and one had to lead. One of the brothers in the ward volunteered to take the lead. Unfortunately, they ended up getting super lost and stuck in a super sketchy part of Porto Alegre. However, they ended up eventually making it. The next time there was to be a temple trip, they were again deciding who would take the lead. This same brother raised his hand and said, I will! He said, you? No, Irmão, remember what happened? But the brother insisted and said. "President, this time I am prepared." He led the way confidently and safely to the temple. He related this to repentance. Even if the people around you don´t believe that you can change, even if they base the opinion of you on the past, it is up to you, using faith, diligence, and careful attention (1 Ne 16:28-Liahona) to follow the way outlined by the scriptures that you can change, be better, and lead the way to the temple. Let us listen to the voice of the prophets, both in past times and in our days, and be able to say, like th people of King Benjamin, "we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." Mosiah 5:2

Love you guys!

Sister Smith

Sunday, December 21, 2014

15 Dezembro 2014

The Lord looks out for each of His missionaries. This week we traveled A LOT. We went to Arroio Grande on tuesday, Camaquã Thursday and Friday, and Canguçu on Saturday. Google maps them if you want to see where they are. I am not even sure, I just get on the bus that has the right name on it. 

But anyway, on the way back from Camaquã, we were sitting on the last row of the greyhound style bus, in front of the washcloset. After a while through the journey, I leaned back my chair. Seconds later the bus suddenly slowed to a stop. We heard a skid and then BAM!! and felt the impact of a truck running into our bus. No one on the bus suffered injuries, and the most I felt was a little headache that didn´t even last a day. I think the truck driver is okay too, but the truck suffered the worst- the glass on thie windshield was all shattered. 

We didn´t think it was that rough of a crash until we saw the truck. To me that goes to show how much the Lord was protecting us. We were the closest to the impact, yet nothing happened. We didn´t feel afraid or anything.

We had a ward activity on Saturday in Canguçu! We spent most of the time talking to a young woman named Camilla and her nonmember grandma, Maria, who is super wonderful and really likes the church. The only problem is that she thinks it is a sin to go to Sunday meetings in another church that is not the one you are baptized in. We talked to her about family history the other day and she got really interested, which is a good start. 

We are also teaching an amazing couple, Gabriel and Josiele. They have a great religious background with lots of knowledge already. We were teaching the Pan of Salvatioun and talked about the flal. We asked Josiele what she understands about the fall and she was like, "I don´t know if this is right, but in my opinion..." and then went on to perfectly explain the fall, how the Bible neve says it´s an apple, but just a fruit and various doctrines and principles of the fall and it´s place in God´s Plan. She is reading the Book of Mormon but hasn´t prayed yet, because she says she doesn´t yet have real intent. I love that she understands that. 

On Sunday we were leaving lunch, and we had forgotten the map. We went down a road that ended up just leading us right around back to where we started, but we needed to go down that road. In the middle of that road, there was a man in a rastafari cap and short dreads hanging out, hoeing weeds. As we neared him, he called out, "hey! Do you guys have something for me to read?" Vitalino (the man´s name) said that he is really looking for a change in his life, and we gave him a pamphlet, explained a bit, and marked to go back. What a wonderful blessing. He seemed to be really looking for a hope and a change. 

We feel really blessed and protected this week. 
Proverbs 30:4-5 "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what ishis name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him."

We felt that promise being fulfilled this week. He can do anything and takes care of everything when we put our trust in Him. 


Sister Smith

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

7 December 2014

Okay friends. This month we have been passing through a pioneer experience. In reality, I think some missions have to do this all the time, but I count my blessings that it has only been for a bit. When we arrived in this area, we received many surprises. One of which is that the washing machine was broken. A replacement was supposed to be sent in days but so far...nothing. So we have been learning how to wash clothes by hand. However, our house is not equipped for this, thus we have been using pails and containters. I have attached pictures. Washing by hand was made even harder when the water shut off. Twice. Somehow we managed not to be stinky using perfume and rationing the water we had in our various water bottles to wash our faces, etc. It was really fun and I felt pioneery. And it´s not even July.

Also! The busses went on strike, so when we want to get somewhere far, we have to take combes, which are basically little retired bus vans that once functioned daily but now only come out of the shadows during the strike. Our only other option is sketchy cars with bearded men and handwritten papers taped to the windshield "Centro- R$6,00".... We went with the combe. 

Fun facts about our new place. The neighbors, normally around 8:25, start to blast the SAME PLAYLIST EVERY DAY, including the Party Rock anthem. twice. We Found Love in a Hopeless Place, a Brazilian Samba, and a music that says Blah Blah Blah probably more than 140 times. Is that a new top 10, or is it just something here? Really, people, I hope that someone has made something high quality while I have been here because if I get back and it is just stuff like this on the top 10 I will have to become a pop star.  

The other day we saw a cat on our neighbor´s roof in the scorching heat. He was belly up with his arms open and one leg sticking up in the air. We thought he was dead. When we looked the next day, he was gone. But the next day was back. I decided he has a day on/day off tanning schedule. I attached pictures of the roof he tans on ( I think it was his day off when I took the pic, so he is absent, sorry). The roof is at the end of the line of clothes and to the left. BTW The backyard in the pictues is not ours, nor is the trampoline if anyone was wondering. 

So yesterday we had the best meeting ever with our bishop. It was the activity planning meetine where we got our activities approved. So for Christmas we are wanting to have an integration activity where we decorate sugar cookies and make paper snowflakes. I didn´t know it would be so hard to explain that yes, the ratio of butter to flour is correct. It would have helped if I knew the word for stick of butter. I ended up calling them something like poles of butter because people here use exclusively margarine in tubs, so up to this point in the mission I haven´t ever had to talk about real butter. 

No one was really getting the paper snowflakes idea either so I grabbed a paper, asked for scissors, and made a simple, but lovely snowflake. When the paper unfolded, it was like Christmas had already arrived.
"Whoooa! did you mean to put hearts in it?" Yes, yes I did
"So, you want to make, like...a HUNDRED of these?" Yes, it´s easier than it looks. And all the people can make their own. I will teach them. 
"This must be an American thing" Yeah, I have studied snowflakes since childhood. It´s an integral part of the education system. 
Bishop wanted me to name the snowflake.... so I came up with the name flaming starfire of love. We decided that snowflakes express personalities, kind of like Rorschach blotch tests. Sister Kirk and then the Elder´s quorum president each made a snowflake and then held them up for people to see their personalities. The snowlake activity got approved. Win.

This week we also had some awesome inspiring experiences. For example, one day on the bus I decided to talk to the lady by my side. Her name is Mara. She had on a kind of grumpy face, so I started chatting and asked her about Pelótas, what she likes about here, etc. Whenever the conversation died, I pumped it back up again and eventually it natulrally led to a gospel conversation and I gave her not one, but two pamphlets, because she said she likes to read. I didn´t think much of the conversation, but when I had to descend the bus, I gave her a hug (normal here) and she said, "you don´t know the good that you did for me today" and I felt so happy! Even not realizing it we can make a difference in people´s lives. I felt a re-kindling of that missionary fire. We can keep it burning constantly if we look outside ourselvess.

Also, we had kind of a miracle. In Doctrine and Convenants 75:27 it says "Let them ask and they shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto them, and be made known from on high, even by theComforter, whither they shall go." As I mentioned, I have been praying for guidance in the area. One day, we were walking along and talking about some investigators. We started to talk about Nestor, a referall that our WML had taken us to a few days earlier. Unfortunatly, both of us forgot to write down his address and telephone #! Don´t do that at home, kids. But we felt like we should pass by and talk to him. But how? We kept walking toward where we were going originally but for some reason we took a different route that we had never taken before. Suddenly, the road ended and when we looked up, BAM! There was Nestor´s Hap Ki Do studio!!!! (Side note: Hap Ki Do is one of the most complete forms of martial arts, teaching not only physical, but mental-emotional and spiritual harmony and control, according to Nestor) we were able to chat with him and even though he was unable to come to church this week, we conversed about future lessons, etc, and, most importatnly, wrote down his address and phone #.

2 Ne 2:16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
Satan and his followers are working 24/7 to entice to do wrong, so to give people their full agency, we have to at least equal that effort. Invite! Entice to do good! Doing good is fun! It´s what all the cool people do! It´s how you get eternal happiness!

Invite someone to do good today. Love you guys!

Sister Smith

Monday, December 1, 2014

1 December 2014


It has been a crazy awesome productive week. I am not sure whether to be happy or overwhelmed. I think I will choose happy. Because people. I have never received SO MANY REFERALLS! Yesterday we had a ward council meeting where the ward members basically started fighting over when they can make visits with us. We have to travel A LOT to be able to visit 7 companionships of sisters within this 5 week transfer so it´s pretty busy. But in a good way. 

We also had a visit from Elder Morôni Torgan who had some great thoughts, as well as some great thoughts by Pres. and Sister Castro. One thing that stood out to me was not necessarily what was said but how it was said. Whenever Elder Torgan or Presidente Castro went to speak, they would just cite scriptures off the top of their head basically every other sentence! And it wasn´t like oh, look how many scriptures I know, but it was really natural and brought the spirit, as well as authority and truth to their messages, and reminded me of the scripture in D&C 84:85 "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; buttreasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man."

So Basically the theme of this week is "Ask and you shall recieve" (See Matthew 7:7-11, Enos 1:15 "Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.") We have received more blessings than we know how to count. 

Opening an area is fun, but very different from what I would have thought. For example, I thought it would be hard to find people to teach, but we are actually basically overwhelmed with the number of people we have, the difficulty now will be accompanying the people sufficiently. For example, we had a distrito amigo and asked everyone to find at least one new family to teach and everyone came back with the page full of people! We have been asking the Lord for guidance in our area and I know for a certaintly He has been helping. For example, we often have to ask the name of a road, so we were one this dirt road that basically had no people just floating around, but on a side road, I saw a couple of people sitting on chairs. We went to talk to them, and they not only accepted to hear a message but accepted basically everything we had to say and wanted us to come back the next day! And they told us the name of the road. 

So now what we are asking for is discernment and capability to keep up with all the people. 

Also Irmã Michele gave us a little Christmas tree :)  

Love you guys!!!

Sister Smith