Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas in Brazil

For as long as I can remember, I have woken up at 5AM Christmas morning with the anticipation of the day's planned festivities!!  Sadly, I had to break that tradition this year, and I woke up at 6:30AM.  The morning and afternoon were a normal 'missionary day' filled with studies and teaching (yes, surprisingly there were people who let us come teach them on Christmas day!  Mostly investigators that we had already taught a few times and were preparing to be baptized).  All day long, Sister East and I were counting down the hours until our phone call home to talk to our families.  I was way excited because this was going to be my first phone call home after 8 months!  At 5:00 we called it a day, 'took off the badge' (figuratively speaking), and booked it to Elder and Sister Petrie's house to make the phone call home!  I would just like to take this opportunity right now and give a shout out to modern technology!!!  SKYPE!!!  What a miracle!  GOOGLE HANGOUT!!!  What a blessed people we are to have such technology!!!  Talking to my family was by far the BEST part about my Christmas in Brazil, but the festivities continued!  Elder and Sister Petrie had made a ham, funeral potatoes, and a great fruit salad!  I provided the dessert, a real apple crisp with American brown sugar!  It was food fit for the gods!  After our Christmas dinner, we opened our 'secret santa' gifts to each other.  I had Elder Williams, and had bought him a cactus.  When I passed by the little cactus on the street the spines reminded me so much of Elder Williams' hair that I couldn't resist the urge to buy it for him!  It was interesting to watch him open it - 'Ow!...what the?...ow!... what is in here?!' hehehehe!  I think he liked it!  

This past week, we have been teaching a young girl named Joyce.  Our first lesson with her was AMAZING!!  She understood what the apostasy was and why we needed a restoration.  However, when we returned to follow up, she replied that she had read the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, but had not received an answer yet.  I had her open up to the part we had left for her to read in the Book of Mormon, Alma 32:21-28, and said, "Let's suppose that the very first time we talked to you, we planted a 'seed' within your heart.  Now, in order to know whether this 'seed' is a good seed, this verse here tells us that it should grow within us.  From the first time that we taught you until now, do you feel like this 'seed' has grown within you, or died?"  Joyce thought for awhile, and then replied, "I think it has grown."  I then explained to her that this was an answer to her prayer that what we were teaching her was true!  As I thought about my response, I began to think about the 'gospel seed' within me and within each of us.  Our testimonies of the Gospel is not a one time deal.  Our testimonies are very much like seeds.  We need to continue to nourish our testimonies, or they will die.  One of the major themes of the Book of Mormon is to 'remember'!  King Benjamin pleads with his people, "I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance the greatness of God...and now o man, remember, and perish not!" (Mosiah 4:11,30)  Alma also exhorts his people, "and if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"  Alma's words, "can ye feel so now," are powerful.  Our testimonies should be growing and strengthening everyday.  We should be remembering and applying the principles of the Gospel in our lives everyday!  The word 'remember' is essential in our lives.  We need to always remember the importance of the scriptures, the necessity of daily prayer, the power of the atonement, etc.  When we 'remember' and continue to 'feel so now' our testimonies will never die!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Feliz Aniversário

It had been a day completely full of street contacts, successful street contacts, but none the less, street contacts, and Sister East and I were heading to a member's home for FHE with the Branch.  Wednesday nights with FHE, are always my favorite nights because we get a guaranteed hour to sit down, and we get to relax and just have fun with the members for an hour or so.  As we approached the member's home, there were a few members outside talking.  One of the Irmãs stood in front of the door and forbid me to enter.  I thought it was just a joke, and tried to sneak past her, but she grabbed me and held me prisoner while the rest of the members entered the home.  Finally, she and I entered the home.  The instant I stepped in, everyone started singing, "Parabéns para você, nesta data querida..."  On top of this awesome surprise, someone had made a delicous birthday cake, salgados, hotdogs, and a poster with my name on it and "Feliz Aniversário"!  I may or may not have felt a little special...heehee!  Needless to say, it was one of the best FHE yet, and the best birthday in Brasil that I could have had!!!

From an email that I received from Laura, I have been pondering the phrase 'humbly trust in the Lord'.  As I have been studying, I came across a scripture in 3 Nephi 26:11, which states that the Lord will 'try the faith of His people'.  In this most recent conference, Neil A. Anderson said, 'With faith comes the trial of our faith, which grows more faith!'  Summarized in a 'Courtney style', the Lord is telling us that our lives won't be a swim in a fish tank.  We're going to be facing a whole Ocean full of trials and challenges, but with each trial of our faith, we will be strengthened.  The key to all this, is that even in the midst of all these challenges, we cannot and should not curse the God who gave us life.  We need to humbly trust that our Heavenly Father is in control and that everything we suffer will work out for our good!  I know that our Heavenly Father loves us beyond description!  If we humbly trust in Him, we will be able to have joy and peace in this life and eternal life in the life to come!

Merry Christmas!!!!!  And a Merrier New Year!!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ultimate Frisbee!!!

As you all can probably guess by the title of this entry, I have finally had the opportunity to play some real, hardcore ultimate frisbee in Brazil!!!  On Friday my zone, as well as three others had our Christmas Conference!  I brought my frisbee with the hope and prayer that we would be able to find a open space large enough to get a competitive game of ultimate frisbee going.  My prayers were answered!  There was a total of 9 missionaries who played, and it was AWESOME!!!!  It didn't even matter that it was 1:00, the hottest part of the day!  I played like it had only been 8 days since the last time I played, instead of 8 months...which wasn't a problem until the 5 hour drive back to Sousa cramped up in a van! haha!  It was a miracle I was able to walk the next day!

On Saturday, our Branch had their Christmas party!  Our District President brought the daughter of a friend of his that he has been sharing the Gospel with.  This girl is 12 years old, but has the maturity level of a 16 or 18 year old.  Since she lives about 20 minutes outside of Sousa, Sister East and I only had Saturday and Sunday to talk to her.  Sunday morning we went over to the District President's house to give the first lesson to this young girl.  She sat on the edge of her seat the whole lesson and literally absorbed everything we said.  The District President's wife was also there, and she shared an experience of when she was baptized at 12 years of age.  As she was sharing this story and her testimony, the young girl who we were teaching started to tear up a bit.  The spirit was super strong, and I could just feel that this young girl was truly an elect daughter of Heavenly Father!  I am bummed that we will only be able to teach her on the weekends, but I am way excited to continue teaching her and to see her progress in the Gospel.  

Also during this week, my companion and I had a neat experience helping on of our investigators resolve her doubts about 'not worshiping saints.'  We had taught her the second commandment and explained to her how our Heavenly Father is the only one that can answer our prayers and that we should worship 'man-made' objects or conceptions.  Yet, she was stubbornly fixed on the idea that she could pray to these two 'saints', one of which she had personally met.  Finally, we asked her, 'Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is true?'  She replied that she did.  Then, we asked her, 'Do you believe that the Book of Mormon can help you resolve your doubts?'  Once again she replied that she did.  We continued, 'Alright, then you are going to say a prayer right now and ask Heavenly Father to help you understand that you don't need to worship saints, and that it is not good for you to worship these saints.  Then, after you say this prayer, you are going to open up the Book of Mormon, choose a place to start reading, and we know that Heavenly Father will provide you with the answer that you need!'  Our investigator became super excited and knelt on the floor to say her prayer.  During her entire prayer I was praying as well, 'Please Heavenly Father, give her an answer in the Book of Mormon, please stand behind our promise, please!'  My heart was going crazy as our investigator opened up the Book of Mormon and told us the page number.  Sister East and I quickly turned to the page and began reading along with our investigator as she read, "O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youthç yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.  Yea, and cry unto God for all thy supportç yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thous goest let it be in the Lordç yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lordç yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever." (Alma 37:35-37)  After she read these verses, she looked up at us and said, 'I received my answer.  I shouldn't worship these saints!'  WOOOHOOOO!!!  Heavenly Father answers our prayers!  The Book of Mormon is true!!!

As I've been studying this week for various lessons, I've been focusing a lot on forgiveness.  In the course of a life time, each of us will be hurt and offended numerous times.  Yet, the Lord has given us the commandment, 'ye ought to forgive one anotherç for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord for there remaineth in him the greater sin.  I, the Lord, will forgive whome I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men' (D&C 64:9-10)  As I was pondering about this commandment to forgive all men, I had the opportunity to watch a short clip of the life of Christ when the woman who was taken in adultery was brought before him and the question was made, 'such should be stoned, but what say thou?'  Christ's answer is profound, 'He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.'  So it should be with our judgements of others.  Perhaps we truly were offended, perhaps someone truly sinned against us, but who are we to 'cast stones' at others when we ourselves are no where near perfect?  We need to allow our Heavenly Father to judge others for their actions; our responsibility is to simply forgive.  I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can find the needed strength to forgive others freely and fill our hearts with love.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Another Six Weeks!

Sister East and I will be spending my birthday, Christmas, the New Year, and my 9 month mark together in Sousa!!  These next 6 weeks will be one big party (missionary style, of course!)!!  This past week and half has been crazy!  During the day we talk to as many people as possible, and then at night we teach lessons to the families and investigators that we have found.  It's exhausting!  During one of lessons (to be honest, many), I have to fight to keep myself awake when I'm not talking.  I try to mask my exhaustion by pretending that I'm reading the scriptures, or praying for my companion, and then when everything becomes quiet I quickly wake up and say something along the lines of, "I testify that what my companion just said is true..." and then continue with the lesson!  heehee  Somedays are more rough than other days, but as a friend of the family used to always say, "I'm still kicking!"

Last Wednesday, we had a GREAT family home evening with our ward.  We have been teaching two families, so we invited them to come to our ward family home evening.  We walked with them to the member's house, and then left to pick up André and one of his friends because they live nearby but didn't know where this member lived.  When we arrived at André's house his mom, who absolutely adores Sister East and I, invited us in to drink some water.  When we entered the kitchen, we noticed that she had made couscous with eggs (a favorite dish in Brazil).  She asked us if we liked couscous com this is a loaded question, if you say 'no', you might as well have told her that she is a terrible cook, but if you say 'yes', you better get ready to eat.  Well, we said, 'yes'.  No sooner was the word 'yes' out of my mouth and André's mom was scooping couscous on to two plates and shoving us down at the table to eat.  She then sent André out to buy us some juice real quick because water was no longer good enough!  Sister East and I didn't even try to resist, we just sat at the table and ate our couscous and laughing at the whole situation.  Needless to say, we made it to FHE a little late, but it was worth it!  Our two families loved the FHE.  We watched 'Mundo Feliz' and then played a game afterwards where one person is blindfolded and they tap a person with a wooden spoon and ask them to make an animal sound.  Then, by the sound that is made the person that is blindfolded has to guess who made the sound!  It was way fun to see what kind of sounds people made for the different animals!

I know that this Gospel is true!  If you don't have a personal testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, get one!  The morals and standards of this world are degenerating rapidly.  It's confusing and difficult to navigate our way through this world.  However, with a strong personal testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, we will make it through the mists of darkness and reach the 'tree of life'!  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let's Go to Church!

Sundays have always been one of my favorite days of the week, because it's the day when you get to see the 'fruits of your labors'!  Who, out of the hundreds of people that we invited and taught, will come to church?!  Sister East and I have had such a large group of people these past two Sundays, that we've had to ask some young women in our ward to go on splits with us to help us 'pick up' everyone that we promised.  I wonder if sometimes people tell us they'll come to church with the thought, "oh these girls will never pass by to pick me up anyway!"  haha!  and then Sunday afternoon at 3:00 -- "Surprise!!  We're here to take you to church!"  There was one 14-year-old boy who we had invited to come to church,and he had seemed super excited to come.  However, when we should up at the meeting place, he wasn't there.  I asked around on the street to see if anyone knew where he lived (because his current house was under construction).  We finally found a woman who knew where he lived and she agreed to take us to his house.  As we were walking down the street, the young man passed by on his bike on the street in front of us.  We yelled for him, but he didn't hear us.  So, I did the only sensible thing to do and took off running after him!!  Unfortunately, we never caught up to him...bikes tend to be faster than running, but we tried!  

As I've been studying in the scriptures, I was intrigued by Alma's instructions to his son Helaman concerning the plates (Alma 37).  He begins by telling his son that the Lord works by small and simple things to bring about great things.  Then, he talks about how the scriptures helped Ammon and all those missionaries in their missionary work to the Lamanites.  Finally, he tells Helaman that he doesn't understand the Lord's reasons, but that the Lord has a wise purpose for every commandment that he gives us.  I'm sure that it wasn't always easy to keep the records in those days.  Scratching out words in metals would not be fun, and I can imagine that someone at some point probably thought, "What a waste of time.  No one is even going to read these records.  I'm just doing all this hard work for nothing."  Yet, as Alma testified to his son, the Lord has a wise purpose and He is in control.  Often in our own lifes, we too find ourselves wondering, "Going to church is such a waste of time," or "No one pays attention when we have FHE or family scripture study," or "I'm doing all this hard work preparing this lesson or this talk for nothing."  Whatever it is, we too wonder whether our 'small and simple' efforts are truly going to pay off in the end.  I testify that YES!  Our 'small and simple' efforts always pay off!  We can't always see the full picture, or understand the Lord's ways, but we can have faith that truly, the Lord has a wise purpose in every command, and if we faithfully obey we will be blessed!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Brazilian Thanksgiving!!

With the Petries in Sousa our Thanksgiving dinner (lunch) was pretty darn close to the real deal!  I was going to make home made rolls, but President and Sister Hall ended up coming to Sousa to do some training on Thanksgiving day, so I didn't have any time...darn, but Sister Petrie made some bomb mashed potatoes and gravy, a roast, pumpkin bars with cream cheese  frosting, AND real box brownies from the US!!  I've made some brownies while I've been here in Brazil, and I thought they were delicious, but when I put a bite of real brownies in my mouth I thought for sure I'd die of pure brownie goodness!  Since we had training with the Halls, our whole zone was together for our Thanksgiving meal, which made it all the more fun.  While we were washing dishes after the meal, all of the American missionaries started singing Christmas songs!  We're all feeling the holiday spirit, even if there isn't frost or snow.

Saturday was filled with craziness.  At 2:00 we had some men from the Branch show up to help us move apartments!  We just moved across the street, so it wasn't too complicated...but then again our new apartment is on the third floor, so those men got a good work out!  Sister East and I helped where we could, and stepped out of the way when our help didn't appear to be very helpful (heehee).  The difference between our old apartment and our new apartment is like the difference between a bitter carrot and a sweet carrot.  They're both the same thing, a missionary apartment, but one fills you with disappointment and disgust, and the other fills you with happiness and energy.  Even climbing the extra 3 flights of stairs is a bonus - more exercise!  No longer will Sister East and I return home at night to a dark, stuffy, apartment.  It's amazing how your environment truly effects how you feel.  These past few mornings I've woken up with a grin on my face and a ray of sun in my heart! 

We finished the move in two hours, and then Sister East and I headed to the Chapel to set up for our activity with the members.  We are doing a month long activity where each member will earn points for their organization when they do something to help missionary work.  For example, they earn points if they: bring a friend to church, bring a friend to an activity, give a reference to the missionaries, sit beside one of our investigators, go on splits with the missionaries, have FHE in their home and share a message, etc.  Our activity on Saturday was to get them excited about this competition.  We played a variety of games, and whoever won earned points for their organization.  I didn't know how this activity would work out, but Brazilians like a competition!  On Sunday we had a couple investigators at church, and I don't think a single meeting went by that a member wasn't sitting beside our investigators!  Then, in the morning as we were out passing by people's houses to take them to church, we passed by three of the young men from our Branch out trying to get their friends to come to church too!  haha!  I love it!!

I've been thinking a lot this week about our potential.  Often, we set limits for ourselves whether conciously or unconciously.  We look at other people and say that they are different, or the circumstances were different, and we can't accomplish the same things now.  However, that is not true.  Why can't we be as spiritually  powerful as Nephi or Moroni.  Why can't we be missionaries as effective as Alma and Ammon?  Why can't we raise children as firm as the Sons of Helaman?  Why can't we have wards and families as unified as the people of Enoch?  The only barrier we have is ourselves!  We can accomplish great things, we just need to believe - AND most importantly, trust in the Lord!!

Monday, November 19, 2012


I can't resist giving a shout out to my sister, Cassie, who just received her mission call to Fortaleza, Brazil!!!!!!!!  WOOOOOHOOOOOO  Missions are the BEST, but Brazil has a special place in my heart with cookies, ice cream, and everything else wonderful in life!!  

This morning, Sister East and I left our apartment at 10:30 to start our P-Day activities.  Before we can get out on the street, we have to unlock a big gate in front of our apartment.  The lock always gives us trouble, but today it was impossible!  We asked one of our neighbors to try and unlock the gate, but she couldn't.  We called the owner of the apartment, but he couldn't come until 1:00.  Sister East and I aren't the kind of people to just sit around, especially after a long week of missionary work.  One tiny little lock wasn't going to keep us prisioners in our own apartment.  We did a quick scout along the fence and found a spot that looked easy to climb up and over.  Then, with skirts and all, we pulled ourselves up and then jumped over!  Freedom!!!  The people of Sousa already think we're crazy for running every morning, so jumping over fences will just reaffirm to them our strangeness.  

As a missionary, I hear all kinds of excuses...all kinds!  Sometimes I get weary of hearing the excuses, and I just want to say, "só diga logo a verdade" (just tell us the truth!)  Yet, other times, the excuses can get pretty funny.  This past week, Sister East and I  were talking to three people.  Each of them lived in a different house.  We invited one of them to come to church and she replied that she couldn't because she would be moving houses on Sunday.  Tudo bem, on to the next person.  However, the next person replied that he would also be moving on Sunday (riiiiiiiiight *winky face*)  Sister East then turned to the third person and said, "and let me guess, you're going to be moving on Sunday, too?"  hahaha!  If you're going to make an excuse, at least make an effort to be original!

One of my favorite parts of serving a mission, is recognizing the countless miracles we are blessed with everyday.  Even a miracle as small as commenting to my companion that I would love a certain kind of juice, and then we show up at a member's house for lunch and they have made the exact juice that I was craving!  It's something small, but truly is a testimony ot me that Heavenly Father is aware of our lives to the tiniest detail.  He wants to bless us, strengthen us, and raise our spirits!  

I was studying this week in Alma about the antichrist, Korihor.  Korihor led away many Nephites to commit sins and lose their faith.  However, when Korihor tried to destory the testimonies of the people of Jershon and the people of Gideon he did not have any success.  What was the difference?  The people of Jershon and the people of Gideon didn't let Korihor stay among them and preach; they tied him up and threw him out!  We need to do the same thing with Satan in our lives.  Satan will try to enter our lives and our homes in whatever way possible; movies, internet, cell phones, TV, books, crazy schedules, pride, etc.  He will find our weak point and do what he can to tear us down.  Yet, we are more powerful than Satan.  We do not have to let him have success in our lives and homes.  We need to recognize the methods that Satan is using to weaken our testimonies, and then do as the people of Jershon and Gideon, 'tie it up, and throw it out'!!!  I know that this Gospel is true!  We have the power to choose eternal life and happiness!  Daily prayer and scripture study will strengthen our testimonies!!  Stay strong and keep enduring!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Brazilian Baking

I've been doing a lot more baking lately because I find great pleasure in taking cookies to members and watching them take that first bite into a chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter cookie (I use some strange, but delicious peanut candy that is basically dried peanut butter to give my cookies a peanut butter taste).  I love watching as their faces transform and are filled with the joy that can only come from eating a chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter cookie!!  Brazilians don't use measuring cups to cook, so I've developed the talent of 'eyeballing it'.  Surprisingly, I haven't ruined any recipes yet, I just have 20 different types of banana bread that all come from the same recipe!! heehee!

This past week, we had an appointment to teach a family that was a reference from a member.  During our planning the night before, Sister East and I decided to do some contacting in a neighborhood that was quite a long ways from our apartment.  As we were walking there, Sister East made the comment that perhaps our planning hadn't been that good because we were going to end up walking a lot for what appeared to be little success.  However, as we were nearing the neighborhood, we heard someone call out our names.  We turned around and saw the wife of the family we had marked to teach that night.  She told us that she had to pick up her son from a meeting and that she would be 30 minutes late for our appointment.  She then told us that she had found out about this meeting yesterday night, and was worried all day that she wouldn't be able to tell us about the change of times and that we would pass by and assume that she had forgotten.  A coincidence that Sister East and I planned to make contacts that neighborhood near this woman's work?...I think not!  Later that night, after we had taught our lesson, I was writing something in my planner when the husband asked me if he could see the picture that I had taped on the front of my planner.  It was the picture of Jesus stepping out of the tomb on the pass along cards.  The husband then told us that he had found a picture identical to this picture when he was in São Paulo.  He had brought the picture home with him and had put it on their refridgerator!  A coincidence that I chose to tape this picture to my planner, the same picture that this man had found in São Paulo?...I think not!  It is incredible to see how the Lord is guiding our lives!  As I thought about these experiences, I remembered a talk by Elder Bednar.  He made the comment that many people worry about the question, 'how can you know when the spirit is guiding you?'  His answer was, 'Stop worrying about it, and just be a good boy, or a good girl!'  It seems too simple, but it's true.  If we are being righteous and obedient, then the Lord is going to guide our lives.  We will be instruments in his hands to comfort those who are in need of comfort, to strengthen someone's faith, to answer someone's prayer, and to take the Gospel to all the world! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012

During the past 7 months, I have worked with a lot of people who desire to change something in their lives -- improve a marriage, stop drinking, stop smoking, be more happy, etc.  It has been amazing to watch as some of these people have succeeded because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the application of Gospel principles.  For others, I have been saddened as I've watched them have success for a little while, but then give in to their old habits.  In my own life, I've noticed things about me that I desire to change as well.  I too have moments of strength when I'm doing everything right to help me make this permanent change and implement a correct principle in my life; yet, I also have moments when I give in to my old weaknesses.  So, what's the difference?  How can we make a permanent change in our life?  How can we come to the point where we can say, "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) 

Developing Christ-like attributes and 'putting off the natural man' aren't easy things to accomplish.  Even Nephi exclaimed, "And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh?  Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?...Awake, my soul!  No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul!" (2 Nephi 4:27-28)  As Nephi declares, we too must have this determination to conquer the natural man and become more like our Savior.  These Christ-like attributes are gifts from God, and we can only develop these qualities through the power of the Atonement.  So, how to we apply the power of the Atonement into our lives?  The Book of Mormon teaches us three basic principles: scripture study, prayer, and fasting.  In Alma 17:2-3 we learn that the sons of Mosiah remained firm in the faith through diligent scripture study and much prayer and fasting.  Also, in Helaman 3:28-29,35, we are taught again that it is the 'word of God', or scripture study, that will help us combat the temptations of the devil, to fight against our old desires and habits.  Then, fasting and prayer will strengthen our faith and humility, ultimately purifying our hearts and helping us to put off the natural man and become Saints! 

Change isn't easy, but through the power of the Atonement, and through the application of the principles of the Gospel, it is possible!!  Our purpose in this life is to become like our Savior, "that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48)  Let us each strive to apply the Atonement in our lives; diligently study the scriptures, fast and pray intently, and repent daily.  I know that each of us can have this mighty change of heart!  Each of us can receive the image of God in our countenances and truly become like our savior!

As I've probably mentioned before, there are a lot of wild dogs on the streets of Brazil.  Sister East and I have made it a game to give each dog a nick name as we walk by.  So far we've come up with names like, 'puddle-licker', 'fufu', 'dung beetle', etc.  We just say whatever is the first word that comes to our mind!  It's ridiculous, but it keeps us sane.  Another game that we like to play is when we ask people who would they like to pray.  Usually people don't like to pick and they say, 'tanto faz' (it doesn't matter), or, 'qualquer um' (whichever one).  These two phrases are so common for people to say to us, that Sister East decided to be 'qualquer um' and I am 'tanto faz'.  So, when we ask someone which of the two of us can pray and they say, 'oh, qualquer um', Sister East prays; and if they say, 'tanto faz', then I pray!  hahaha!  Oh the things we do to keep our lives from turning into humdrum, boring scum!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Até o Fim!

Transfers were this week, and as we figured, Sister East and I will be staying in Sousa!  Since we have a senior couple in our area and our zone leaders, we all met up at an ice cream shop to eat ice cream while we waited for the call from the Assistents!  It was way better than just going back to our apartment, planning for our day (without knowing what's going to happen), and then anxiously waiting for the phone to ring. 

This week, I had a nice surprise!  One of the young woman in Guarabira traveled to Sousa to visit Sister East and I (Sister East also served in Guarabira)!!  Monday and Tuesday Rayssa, our visitor from Guarabira, came with Sister East and I for most of the day to make contacts and teach investigators!  Rayssa will be turning 18 in January and is preparing to serve a mission, so it was perfect for her and of course we loved the company!  One contact that we made with her was super neat.  We began talking to a woman and during the course of our conversation she told us that her husband had found a Book of Mormon on the bus he drives.  After no one came back to reclaim the book, he and his wife began to read it.  Now, whenever he travels, he always takes the Book of Mormon with him to read!  Until we talked with this woman, she had never made the connection that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses the Book of Mormon!  I hope I will be able to see the ending to this awesome story! 

Two weeks ago, we received a referrel of a man who is about 59 and lives alone in a one room house with only a hammock, a night stand, a handheld radio, and his bike.  His mother, sister, and daughter all live nearby, so I think he goes to their homes to eat and only sleeps in his one room house.  Anyway, we stopped by his house two weeks ago and invited him to church.  (Pres. Hall has told that we can recognize investigators with potential by those who come to church.  So, a lot of times our contacts are invitations to come to church and an explanation of the importance of the church and the blessings that we can receive).  Well, the following Sunday he showed up at church, on his bike, without anyone going to get him or reminding him!  Sister East and I marked a baptismal date with him and began teaching him.  The poor guy talks so fast and mumbly, though, that neither of us can understand him that well and he only understands about 50-60 percent of what we say.  Thankfully, the member who introduced us to him is always willing to help us teach.  Most of our lessons were taught twice; we would teach a concept and then the member would repeat what we had taught.  This dear man, Vicente, doesn't know how to read, and just like an innocent little child he understands things on a very simple level.  When we asked him if he believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet he replied, 'Sim'.  We then asked, 'Porque você acredita?' and he responded, 'por que ele foi' (because he was!)  On Sunday, the day of his baptism, Vicente didn't show up at 3:00 like we had told him.  Of course Sister East and I started to worry a bit, but after about 20 minutes, Vicente walked into the church building, hair cut, wearing a fancy pair of sandals, and using a nice collared shirt!  He was so dang adorable I just wanted to give him a hug!!  The baptism went smootly besides the fact that he had to be baptized 3 times because some body part kept popping out of the water (pobrezinho)...but he survived and was super happy afterwards!  Sister East and I sang 'How Great Thou Art' in english for the special musical number.  Later in the week, we visited Vicente.  He was still way excited about his baptism, and had apparently told some members that if he had known how wonderful the Church was before, he would have been baptized a lot sooner!  Vicente told us that some people in his neighborhood had made some rude comments to him about being baptized, but he told us that he doesn't pay them any mind because he is happy now that he has been baptized and even more happy that he will remain firm in the Church!  Everything we taught him Sister East and I would say, 'And how long do you need to keep this commandment...etc?'  and with every question he would respond, 'até o fim!'  (until the end!)  I can't describe how much I love Vicente!  His understanding of the Gospel is simple, but it is enough.  He believes that it is true, and he recognizes the joy that it brings into his life!  I love to see how the Gospel fills people's lives with happiness.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true!  It has the power to change lives; we just need to apply its principles into our lives!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Willy Wonka

Sister East and I made some phone calls in the chruch building during the morning and when we finished we decided to stay and watch the primary program in the other Branch.  There was the cutest little boy in the front row with suspenders that was just singing his heart out for every single song!  The music was definitely my favorite part because they didn't have a piano to accompany them, and the children only sang about 3 different notes, so when they sang it sounded like a group of Buddhist monks chanting! hahaha! 

During my time in Guarabira, Sister Blanco and I made a contact with a man who had helped to build the chapel in Sousa.  We marked a day to return and visit with him, but when we returned the house was completely empty!!  We laughed about how he had taken 'running away' from the missionaries to a whole new level - completely moving houses.  Then, this week Sister East and I were waiting for one of our investigators to arrive home after work.  We saw a man sitting in front of his house a little ways down the street and decided to go talk to him.  As we approached him, I recognized him as the man that I had met in Guarabira.  I exclaimed, "Não acredito!!! Marcos!"  (Thank goodness he had an easy name to remember.  Usually the Brazilian names are so difficult that everytime I try to say someone's name it comes out different, heehee).  I don't think Marcos was too excited to see me again, but I thought it was great.  I only wish I could know what he thought when he saw me..."what the what!  How did she find me all the way out here in Sousa, 6 hours away from Guarabira?!  I'm never going to get rid of her!"  haha!  

This past week I've been thinking a lot about the difference between Guarabira and Sousa.  My obedience, my work ethic, my love for the people, and my desire to serve hasn't changed.  Yet, the work seems so much more easy in Sousa.  We have people to teach, we have investigators that are progressing, and this past Sunday we had 11 investigators at church!!!!  If I was doing the exact same things in Guarabira that I am doing now, why didn't I have the same outcome?  As I thought more about this, I decided that sometimes the Gospel is like Willy Wonka's special bubble gum.  The recipe is the same for every person - we all need to read our scriptures daily, go to church, pray daily, have family home evening, keep the commandments, serve one another, pay our tithing, live worthy to enter the temple and attend frequently, etc - however, the outcome (at least right now in this life) won't always be the same for every person.  Just like the children in the movie Willy Wonka each tasted a different flavor, we will each receive different outcomes for our obedience and diligence.  The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knows what blessings we need and when we need them.  Just because we don't see the expected outcomes of our labors and righteousness, or just because we aren't receiving the same blessings as our neighbor doesn't mean that we have the 'wrong recipe'.  The recipe of the Gospel is correct!!  If we continue to live the principles of the Gospel faithfully, even when it seems hopeless and fruitless, we will be blessed, and we will receive eternal life!!

PS for those who may be interested in sending something for Christmas...I would LOVE to get pictures.  Thanks so much to all those who have written letters.  Every letter means so much to me, and strengthens my spirits!  I love you guys!!

Monday, October 15, 2012


The Northeast of Brazil is hot all year round, but during the months of Octuber-December it becomes even hotter - especially when you are in Sousa - a dessert with practically no breeze!  I arrived in Sousa Monday night, and Tuesday Sister East and I were out under the hot, scorching sun teaching and making contacts.  Everytime I drank water I felt like a piece of dry, cracked ground that soaks up water in 2 seconds and looks like you didn't put any water on it.  Our apartment is another adventure in and of itself as well.  It's basically a cave with one window that we can't's refreshing to come home to at night after a long day in the sun (heehee).  Yet, the members and the work in Sousa compensate for the not so chique apartment and the heat stroke inducing climate.  The members here LOVE the missionaries and are always giving us referrels and offering to help us teach our investigators!  Everyday, Sister East and I tell each other, "Sousa é muito abençoado!"  It's always hard to leave an area that you've grown to love and that you've worked so hard to strengthen, but I am excited to see what miracles the Lord will bless us with in Sousa!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Friday night the branch had an activity to involve new members and investigators.  We played basketball, UNO, and watched the movie about Joseph Smith's life.  While we were shooting around with the basketball, a group of 4 boys who weren't members were playing on the other side of the court (the branch always lets people from the surrounding neighborhoods come play basketball or soccer in the court the Chapel has outside).  As we were going in to watch the movie, on of the boys asked me if I wanted to play basketball with them.  I kindly declined because we had an investigator with us and I figured that I should probably watch the movie with them.  However, about 10 minutes into the film, the Elders came into the chapel and motioned for me to come to the door.  "Sister Fernelius," they said, "you have to come play basketball, those boys out there are begging for you to come play!"  I looked back at the movie and then down at my skirt, "alright," I said, "let's go!"  When I exited the church, the boys playing basketball let out a cheer! hahaha!  I felt so honored!  For the next 30 minutes, with skirt and dorky, rubber sandals, I played some intense basketball with two Elders and 4 Brazilian teenage boys!  I think I slept the whole night with a smile on my face!

After many weeks of hard work, we were finally able to see a beautiful daughter of God enter the waters of baptism!!  We began to teach Thalyne and her family about 4 weeks ago, but her mother and siblings all rejected our message and became very hostile toward the Church.  We continued to visit Thalyne because she expressed to us that she wanted to be baptized, and if someone is willing to fight for the Gospel, then there is nothing in this world that is going to stop me from fighting right alongside of them!  Thalyne is truly an elect daughter of God!  She is 12 years old and wants nothing else but to follow every commandment that we taught her.  After we taught her about modesty, she altered all of her clothes to make them more modest.  After we taught her about 'not dating before 16' she ended her relationship with her boyfriend.  There was nothing that was going to keep her from being baptized...except for her mother.  In order to get a feel for what her mother is like, I will tell a brief story about an interaction I had with her.  During one of our lessons with Thalyne, her younger brother wanted to see me do some push ups.  So, I showed him how to do a proper push up.  Thalyne's mother was sitting in the other room and must have overheard what we were doing because after we finished teaching Thalyne's sister came out and told me that her mom wanted to arm wrestle me.  (I'm already terrified of this woman, but I figured if I arm wrestled her and won she'd be more willing to let Thalyne get baptized)  So, I headed back to the other room with the thought, "this fight is for Thalyne!"  The two of us sat across the table from each other and grasped each other's hand.  She looked me straight in the eyes with a piercing look that clearly told me that she was confident that she would win.  I stared calmly back at her and began to apply pressure.  After a few seconds I wanted to ask her if she had begun, I thought that might not be the wisest thing to say. hahaha!  As you can imagine, I won our little arm wrestling match!  As soon as I won, she looked at me with clear dislike, and said, "Voce e muito forte, mas minha fe e mais forte que sua."  (You are very strong, but my faith is stronger than yours)!  I let out a nervous giggle and replied, "Que bom!" stood up from the table and walked out of the room.  Awkward!!!!  Naturally, when the day arrived to ask Thalyne's mom to sign the baptism papers I was extremely nervous!!  Sister Blanco had fasted and prayed muito that Thalyne's mom would sign the papers without causing too much trouble.  We went to the house with Thalyne and Thalyne's cousin, who is also a member.  The cousin thought it would be better if she talked with Thalyne's mom, so Sister Blanco and I sat in the other room listening to them talk in loud, emotional voices about the baptism.  Sister Blanco and I just looked at each other with the gut wrenching feeling that the mom was never going to allow Thalyne to be baptized.  After some moments, the cousin came out of the room.  I was sitting in a chair, hunched over, looking at the floor. Ryassa, the cousin, showed me the baptism papers and to my utter surprise, there at the bottom of the page was the mom's signature!!!!  We had conquered!!!!  I looked up at Thalyne and the smile on her face was radiant!!!  She was going to be baptized!!!  

Sunday morning, the day of the baptism, Sister Blanco and I were studying when our cell phone rang; it was Elder Welch, the assistant to the President.  "Sister Fernelius," he said, "I have some news for you.  You will be transferred to Sousa tomorrow morning.  We want you and Sister Blanco in the Escritorio tomorrow morning at 9:00."  I couldn't believe what I was hearing, transferred...yet, I felt extremely grateful that the Lord had allowed me to stay in Guarabira long enough to see Thalyne be baptized. 

To all of you who watched Conference and heard the change in ages for missionaries, I have one thing to say, GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!!!!!!!!!  This is the Lord's work and I feel so blessed to be a part of it!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012


I'm always looking for what adventures I can have, so when a less active member told us that she would make Buchada for us to try, I was all over that idea!!  For those who don't know, Buchada is all of the delicious inside parts of a goat (intestines, heart, blood, and other goodness), cooked inside the stomach of the goat!  The Elders and Sister Blanco weren't too excited to try it, but they were kind enough to not rain on my parade (heehee).  The Buchada didn't look all that strange, so I took a big spoonful (because I wanted to get the full effect and not just a baby bite of intestines) and started be quite honest, it tasted like, well, like meat!  It wasn't disgusting and I didn't have instant gag reflex!  I was able to finish eating everything and if I was offered Buchada again, I'd probably eat it!  Adventure Buchada - check!

During another lunch with a member, we had the wonderful opportunity to hear an amazing story.  This member had found a pass along card in a box that she had received for
Natal.  It was a simple pass along card with a picture of Jesus on the front.  However, the card had such a powerful effect on her that she traveled to São Paulo two times to try and find The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She never called the number on the card because she wanted to find the church itself.  Needless to say, she never found the church, but she kept the pass along card.  Ten years later, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints constructed a chapel directly in front of her house!  This member had been praying for a church to be built near her home because she wanted to have a church to go to.  She attended the open house for the chapel, and was baptized two weeks later...still not realizing that this church was the same exact church as the pass along card that she had.  Now, one year after her baptism, she received another pass along card at a FHE activity, the same exact pass along card that she had received 10 years ago!  When she saw the same picture on the front, she went to her Bible and pulled out the 10-year-old pass along card, faded with time, and almost falling apart.  The two cards were identical!  She had at last found the church that she had been searching for all these years!!!  So COOL!!!  After hearing that story, I starting passing out pamphlets to every person we talked to on the street!  haha!  Who knows, talvez in 15-20 years the pamphlet I gave to someone will help bring them or another person into the Gospel!  No effort to share the Gospel will be wasted!! 

This past week we had interviews with President Hall.  As I talked with him, he told me, "I know at times you get frustrated with the work.  You may think you're all alone out there in Guarabira not accomplishing anything, but your efforts to be an obedient and righteous missionary are blessing the other missionaries in this mission.  Because of your diligence and faith, this mission, and all the other missions in the world are blessed!"  As I thought about his advice, I realized that this is something we all need to consider.  Sometimes we may think, "I'm the only one in........that wants to follow the Savior; do my efforts to be righteous really matter?"  The answer is easy, 'YES'!!!  Every effort to follow the Savior adds more light to this world and more strength to our fellow brothers and sisters to choose the right as well.  This Gospel is true!  The scriptures really, truly give us strength and power to make it through are challenges and difficulties.  The Atonement is real!  And most important, we have loving Heavenly Father who will never...NEVER abandon us!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Election Rallies...Brazilian Style

This week has been pretty exciting with the elections in Guarabira!  The actual day of voting is October 7th, but the people are already getting pumped up.  Every week, the two main candidates have one day where they can basically have a big party/riot in the streets to increase their number of supporters.  Friday night, the four of us missionaries had a family home evening activity at the church.  Sister Blanco and I brought four of our investigators (four kids 12, 11, 11, and 9), so naturally we needed to walk them back home after the activity.  It was just a normal walk on the streets of Guarabira until we turned a corner and saw a mass of people running through the streets!!  The four kids got really excited and started running too.  Luckily the Elders had come with us, so each of us grabbed a kid by the hand and merged in with the crazy, swarm of singing, shouting, jumping, running people in the street.  Mixed in with the crowd of people were the cars and trucks that blare their candidates music.  People were on the top of these cars singing and jumping as well.  It was quite the experience, and I was glad when we got the kids to their house safely.  Apparently the actual day of elections is even more wild!!  I can't wait!... 

The other week, I was thinking about the mission and how we really are in a war!   As missionaries, we are on the front lines of the battle.  We are literally fighting against Satan and 1/3 of the hosts of heaven!  (And for this reason I think the mission can be so bipolar as vezes.  One moment you couldn't be more happy, and the next moment you courldn't be more sad and discouraged.)  If the missionaries are the active troops in battle that means that the members are the reserve troops.  The members get called into active duty when we ask them to help us or they do member missionary work with friends and family members.  Then, the Lord's angels are our back up troops.  When we've done all we can on the front lines, but seem to be fighting a loosing battle, that's when we call in the reserve troops!  (in reality, the reserve troops are always fighting at our side)!  Yet, it gives me great courage and comfort to know that ultimately, this battle has already been won, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  As Shirley Temple would say, 'oh goody, we're on the winning team already!!'

Monday, September 10, 2012

Family Home Evenings in Brazil

Ramo Guarabira has some of the best family home evenings that I've participated in!!  Every Sunday, we all meet in a different members home. Someone teaches a lesson, we play a game, and then of course we eat food (it wouldn't be FHE without the treat)!!  Yesterday, we had FHE on a member's farm.  The Elders and Sister Blanco and I rode the 15 minutes out to the farm in the back of a member's truck!  Then, when we got to the farm they had wooden benches set up outside so that we could have the lesson outside!  It felt a lot like girls camp, and I had the urge to start singing camp songs...and I may or may not have actually sang a few! heehee ;)  As I was sitting on a wooden bench, surrounded by faithful Brazilian members, dogs curled up in the dirt at my side, and the dark nigh sky cheio de estrellas above my head, I couldn't help but realize how important these moments are.  We need to create positive experiences and spiritual moments for our children, for our families, and for our ward families.  It's those memories that are made with FHE, youth activities, ward activities, and other creative activies that we'll remember and will strengthen us when the going gets rough.  It's always worth the effort to create such spiritual and positive experiences to strengthen our testimonies and the testimonies of those we love!

As Sister Blanco and I were leaving an appointment this week, I made the comment, "the responsibility to save the souls of men is difficult when the souls of men don't want to be saved!" After I made this comment, I began to think about agency.  Satan promised that he would save every soul, but no one would have their agency to choose.  Helaman 14:30-31 talks about how we each have the power to choose, and that the Lord has given us the knowledge and the power.  But, many people in today's world "are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (D&C 123:12-16).  Our responsibility as members and missionaries, is to show people where they can find the truth.  Often, it takes more than one invitation to break through the clouds of confusion, deception, and life-long traditions, but by small and simple things the Lord bringeth to pass the salvation of many souls. An invitation as simple as coming to a church activity, or coming to a church meeting could be all that someone needs to find the truth!  Even if someone rejects your invitation, never stop inviting!  Sometimes it takes more than one invitation to break throught those clouds of darkness!  I know that this Gospel is true!!  The Lord is pouring out blessings upon us everyday.  He wants us to be happy and He wants us to be the best that we can be.  If we trust in Him, we will never go astray! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Beans & Blessings

For some time now, I've been suffering from a bloated stomach every single day.  At first I fust figured it was the large quantity of food that we eat for lunch and then walking in the hot sun.  Yet, after I complained enough about 'just wanting to feel like a normal human being again' my companin told me to try and stop eating the beans during lunch.  This entire week I have only eaten rice, noodles, lettuce, and chicken.  Surprisingly, it worked!  I should have remembered that my stomach has a thing against beans after I went on a homemade refried bean kick and ate my own refried beans with tortillas everyday and just about destroyed my intestines...buuut I guess it takes me a few more bloated stomachs to learn that no matter how badly my head wants to love and eat beans, my stomach and intestines are not willing to make a compromise on this one! heehee

Question: How is it that my companion and I can find people at home, make an initial contact with them, and schedule a time to return and teach them more, but everytime we return we can never seem to find them at home again?'s strange how people's lives just all of sudden become so busy.  My favorite response is when a family member tells us, 'it was just good luck that you caught him home that one time because normally he's never home'...suuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrreee :)

Saturday had been a day full of these kinds of experiences.  All of our teaching appointments fell through and we had numerous rejections in our street contacting.  We had literally passed by the house of every possible investigator and walked the length of our whole area twice by the time it was
7:30.  At this point in the night, my companion and I had just left the house of an investiator who had made up some excuse not to talk to us, and we were aimlessly walking down the street.  Finally, I just stopped in the middle of the street and said, 'Sister, I don't know where we're going or what we're doing; can we say a prayer?'  We moved away from the center of the street and said a short prayer.  After the prayer we both scoped out our various options of streets, paying attention to how we felt as we looked in each direction.  Almost at the same exact moment, we both looked at the street in front of us and said, 'that way, we need to walk down that street.'  The feeling was so strong that we needed to go that direction, that I got shivers.  Someone who needed our message was waiting for us, and the Lord was going to lead us to them.  As we walked down the street, the member who was with us commented that a woman who came to our English class one time lived nearby.  We decided that it wouldn't hurt to pass by her home.  When we arrived, Sister Blanco and I recognized it as the home of a woman who we've tried to teach, but she works a lot and never came to church.  I almost didn't want to knock on the door, but as I looked through the window, I saw her husband sitting on the couch.  'We've never talked to him before', I thought.  The husband came to the door and started talking to us.  He was really unreceptive, and we were on the verge of just leaving when I decided to ask one more question, 'What importance does religion have in your life?'  He responded that he didn't think religion played a very big role in his life because it was too difficult to know which one was correct, and he felt deceived by all religions.  Needless to say, he let us in his house, and we continued talking.  As we listened and asked more questions, this man shared  with us his desires to follow the Savior, and his frustrations with how confusing religion is in today's world.  Sister Blanco and I both felt prompted to share the story of Joseph Smith's frustrations and search for the truth.  After we had recounted the whole story, the man asked with total sincerity, 'Do you think God would answer my prayer if I asked the same question?'  (It's so hard to stay cool, calm, and collected when you're actually teaching someone with desires to know the truth!  I can control my outside expressions, but on the inside you can bet there's a mini festa going on with a pinata and Forró music!!)  We left a Book of Mormon with him and the invitation to read and pray.  As we left, the man commented, 'who knows, maybe your lives are a part of the answer to my prayers.'  The first few moments after we left the man's home were silent, and then my companion asked, 'What just happened?'  I smiled and replied, 'A miracle!'  Like Nephi, we had been led by the spirit, not knowing beforehand where we should go, and because we followed the spirit, we were led to this man who was honestly seeking for the truth!!

As I've pondered the importance of baptism in our lives, I've come to realize that it is through baptism that we can 'apply the atoning blood of Christ' and 'become a saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.'  Our purpose in this life is to become like our Heavenly Father; to reach our full potentioal of becoming gods and goddesses.  Covenants (the first of these being baptism) are what help us to reach this potential.  When we make a covenant with God, we promise to either stop doing certain things or start doing certain things in order to live a higher standardç a more God-like standard.  The baptismal covenant is outlined in a variety of scriptures, Mosiah 5:2,5,8; Mosiah 18:8-10; and D&C
20:37.  Something that I found very interesting is that each of these scriptures mention something about enduring to the end.  When we are baptized, we promise the Lord that we will stick with Him through thick and thin, the good times and the bad times.  In return, the Lord promises to bless us with His spirit, the refining fire that will help us take those experiences in our lives and help us become more like our Savior.  The process of 'becoming a saint' won't be a ride through chocolate world, but if we stick with it to the very end the free chocolate (or eternal life and salvation) is a guarantee!!!  'I say unto you, he that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life...I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation.' (Mosiah 4:6-7)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hormones & Chocolate

I don't know if Elders have the same problem, but I always feel like my hormones are going crazy on the mission...sometimes I'm scared to even talk to myself.  Perhaps its just the business of our schedule everyday or the challenging work.  Whatever it is, I find myself craving chocolate on a regular basis...not necessarily a bad thing (except when I'm craving Reeses or Snickers and I know I can't buy one of those delectable chocolates here...*tear*)  Now in my second transfer in Guarabira, I've made the determination that Guarabira has the potential to break me or make me stronger; and with most things in life, it's up to us to decide what it'll be.  I've decided that Guarabira will make me stronger.  It's kind of like sports (any aspect of life is kind of like sports) It's the coach that really pushes you to reach your potential, even if you want to die in the middle, it's this coach that you truly love and respect.  Heavenly Father is the best coach I could have right now.  Sure, everything I'm going through and have gone through in Guarabira hasn't been necessarily pleasant, but as long as I don't fight against my Coach, but instead learn to trust in him and just go to work, I will become stronger, I will become better, and I will become the powerful missionary that He needs and knows I can be.

Today I had my first P-Day de zona!!  We all met up at the Chapel and played some volleyball, basketball, and football (just throwing around the ball)!  Gosh it's been such a long time!  and wow did it feel so good to play sports again!  To be honest, I can't believe I've survived almost 5 months wearing a skirt everyday...miracles still happen!  However, I do have to say that sweating in a t-shirt and shorts is a whole lot more pleasant than sweating in a skirt! heehee!

Thanks so much to everyone that has written me!!  I appreciate the letters very much!  Your support and encouragement really mean a lot to me! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


As I've been pondering about faith, I came across the scripture in Moroni 7:37 that says 'it is by faith that miracles are wrought' and if miracles have ceased it's because the faith of men has ceased.  As I thought about this scripture, I thought about different situations that had occured in my life previously, or that are occuring right now; and I realized that sometimes 'miracles cease' in our lives not because we lack faith, but because we cease to recognize the miracles that we are receiving.  The thing about miracles is that we don't always get to choose what miracle we receive.  A miracle doesn't need to be something huge - a less active member who returns to church, a member who offers you food 10 minutes after you and your companion have mentioned how you could really use something to eat, a ride in the back of a truck to a member's house that is a 30 minute walk away and you and your companion are already beat, just the fact that we wake up each day with the opportunity to share the Gospel and improve ourselves is a miracle!  Sometimes, the miracle is something everyone can see and appreciate; other times the miracle is something that changes within us that only the Lord and our ownself can perceive and appreciate.  Whether outwardly or inwardly, the Lord is working miracles in our lives everyday!  As we choose to look for and recognize the tiny miracles in our lives, our faith will grow and our happiness will be abundant!

Monday, August 13, 2012


I don't know if it's stupidity sometimes or faith in the Lord, but there are things that I do as a missionary and places I go as a missionary that I would never do if I wasn't wearing a black nametag!  For example, right now we are teaching a handful of families that live on the same street.  There is one part of the street that is a little dark and doesn't have any houses.  Sure it's kind of spooky, but the sun always sets at 5:00 so I'm used to walking around the streets of Guarabira in the dark.  The first day my new companion arrived, we were walking in this street and she asked me, 'Is this street safe?'  I shrugged, 'I haven't died yet!'  That night, every family that we talked to (3-4) mentioned something about how dangerous that street was.  Not only because it is a little dark and sketchy, but also because there are a lot of dogs that have been known to bite people.  Everyone was surprised when we told them that we hadn't been attacked by the dogs yet!  Needless to say, my companion and I have found a different road to walk on.  The Lord protects His missionaries!

Lately, I've been pondering a lot about faith and 'the trial of our faith'.  At times I feel like I have faith that the Lord will bless me in my missionary efforts, that we'll be able to find elect people to teach, that an investigator will come to church, that a family with study the scriptures together, that we'll be able to accomplish certain goals that we make.  I believe that with the Lord's help and a lot of hard work we can do anything, yet when nothing happens I wonder if I am lacking in faith.  Yet, as I studied more about faith I learned that the Lord doesn't try our faith simply by holding back blessings or waiting long periods of time to answer our prayers.  The trial of our faith is learning to accept the Lord's will even when we can't understand it or see how it will truly bless our life.  When we seek to understand and know the Lord's will, we will stop fighting against the Lord, and start working with Him.  In every aspect of our lives, and especially missionary work right now, I need to seek to understand the Lord's will.  Once we our both on the same page, we truly can accomplish anything!!!