Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Glorious Sundays

It's always a glorious Sunday when our investigators actually come to Church!  Two Sundays ago we were especially excited because the family of the little girl who asked us to help her dad stop drinking came to Church!  They seemed to really enjoy it, and right after the meetings we marked a time with them that we could do a Family Home Evening with their family.  However, when we showed up Monday night they informed us that they liked the Church, but that they didn't want to have to commit to go every Sunday.  The rest of their family was Catholic and they just didn't want to fight to attend church every week and to keep the commandments.  They knew that they would have to change a lot of things in their life, and they didn't want to put in the effort.  They begged us to understand them and to not be mad with them.  With complete sincerity, I looked them in the eyes and said, 'We're not mad, we'd never be mad, but we are extremely sad because we know that this Gospel will bless your lives, and you don't want to accept it.'  I can't even begin to describe that feeling of sadness I had, to see choice children of God reject the blessings of the Gospel simply because they didn't want to work for it.  It made me think of a friend of mine who was a convert to the Gospel.  When I asked him to tell me his conversion story he told me that he literally had to fight for everything he has in the Gospel today.  Whether you are a convert or a life-long member we always have to be fighting for the Gospel.  Do you think family prayer, FHE, personal scripture study, temple attendence, church callings, etc are easy? NO!  Of course not, but they're worth it; they're worth the fight!!  Who's on the Lord's side who?...Let's you and me stand with the Lord; let's be on His side; because I can promise you, it'll always be the winning side!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cows, Dirt Roads, and Lunch!

It's hard to tell sometimes where the fields end and the city begins.  My companion and I will be walking to an investigator's house or to the Chapel and a couple of cows, or pigs, or goats will cross the street in front of us or walk past us heading into town (probably to do their weekly shopping)...we just give them a 'bom dia' and continue on our way! 

Traveling to the member's houses for lunch is usually only a 15-20 minute walk.  However, this past week we had a 45 minute bus ride on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere until we finally arrived in a much smaller town where the member lived.  I tried reading letters on the bus, but all the pot holes in the dirt road kept me more focused on not throwing up then on reading.  As one companion told me, 'who needs roller coasters when you've got buses in

I've developed a tactic for eating at member's home so that I can avoid being compelled to eat more than my stomach can handle.  I dish up what I want to eat, and then eat as slowly as I can, pausing between every bite to ask questions.  It usually works pretty well even though I have to eat one medium size plate of food in the same amount of time that the Elders eat two or three huge, heaping plates of food (this is truly the hard part...).  At one member's home I had finished eating and the Irmã looked at my empty plate and asked, 'já parou? porque?' (You've already stopped eating? Why?)  Thank goodness we have two Elders to make up for what we Sisters don't eat. 

A very common dish in
Brazil is Feijão Preto (or black beans cooked with just about every part of the cow or pig).  There is always rice, pasta, lettuce, and sometimes couscous to go along with the Feijão.  You pile everything on your plate, all mixed together, and then eat.  It's pretty much fantastic!  The only slightly adventurous aspect of eating like this is that you can never be quite sure if you'll eat something that probably shouldn't be eaten...*picture this*  Everyone is sitting around the table, four missionaries conversing with an Irmão and Irmã, members in the Branch.  I'm happily eating, listening to the conversation and commenting every once in awhile between bites.  Then, I put a fork full of rice, beans, pasta, and lettuce in my mouth.  I bite down.  Instead of the usual, normal texture that I'm used to, I bite down on something a little gristly, something that my mouth certainly doesn't want to keep chewing.  I look around at everyone sitting at the table.  Everyone is oblivious to my unpleasant discovering.  I look across the table at one of the Elders and he notices the look of terror in my face, but can't do anything to help me out.  Instead, he only gives me an encouraging smile and tries not to laugh.  After glancing around the table a couple more times to make sure the coast is clear, I slying spit out the foreign object and conceal it on my plate!  Whew!  No one saw that...or at least that's what I'll keep telling myself! heehee!

This past Sunday, my Mission President visited the Branch in Guarabira.  He spoke about the parable of the rice man who came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to be saved in the
kingdom of God.  When Jesus replied that he needed to keep the commandments the rice man confirmed that he already did this.  Then, Jesus told him, 'one thing thou lackest'.  Each of us are like this rich man.  We are each striving to keep the commandments and follow our Savior.  Yet, we each have the favorite sin, that one thing that we hold back.  We need to have faith in the Lord that when we truly give up all that we have to Him, He will bless us in ways that we can't even imagine!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012

It was about 8:00 at night and my companion and I were selecting the last few houses we wanted to knock before heading back to our apartment.  Looking down a little allyway off the main street we saw a quaint house all lit up.  As we approached the house, we noticed a couple things.  First, alongside the house was another allyway, but much smaller and much darker.  Second, there was a plaque on the house that said, 'pequeno covento'.  I pointed to the plaque and kind of laughed, thinking that this was an extremely Catholic home or something like that.  Without putting much more thought about the strange plaque, I clapped my hands at the door to get someone's attention inside.  Imagine our surprise when a nun came walking out of the kitchen to answer the door!  hahaha :)  My companion and I just looked at each other and said, ' that's what 'pequeno covento' means...'!  The nun answered the door, and I did some quick thinking and starting a conversation with her just talking about how we were missionaries here in Guarabira and did she know anyone that we could visit.  We had a pleasant little conversation about how much the people of Guarabira needed Jesus Christ in their lives, and then the Nun told us that she could give us one piece of advice.  She pointed to the dark allyway that passed along the side of her house and proceeded to tell us that we should never go down that allyway.  As my companion and I walked away from the 'pequeno covento', my companion turned to me and said, 'before we knocked on the nun's door I wanted to walk down that allyway...'  The Lord's always looking out for us, even if it's through a Catholic nun!!

Last night, my companion and I stopped at the home of a family who we had made a contact with earlier in the week.  The grandmother, daughter (40), son (35), and daughter of the son (10-12) were present.  We taught a simple lesson about the importance of batism and invited the family to prepare to be baptized.  The family wasn't super receptive, but they said that they would be willing to come to church one Sunday and learn more about the Gospel.  It was just a normal lesson with the normal responses.  However, at the end of the lesson my companion asked if there was anything that we could do to help the family.  The adults shook their heads, but the young daughter timidly raised her hand to draw our attention to her, and said, 'I have something that you can do.'  Then, with a slight crack in her voice she continued, 'Can you please help my father stop drinking?'  I looked into this young girls eyes and could see the enormous amount of faith that she had in us - she truly believed that we could help her father.  I've never helped anyone overcome something as difficult as drinking, but I'm not about to let this little girl down.  My companion and I won't leave Guarabira without doing everything in our power to help this father stop drinking and to bring the the blessings of the Gospel into this family!
With my interaction everyday with a wide variety of people, members, less actives, and people of other religions, I see more and more clearly how Satan works in our lives to destroy us and our families.  In 2 Nephi 28:20-22 it says, 'For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.  And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: all is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well - and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.  And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none - and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.'  Satan is tricky.  He uses a variety of different methods to pull us away from the things that will truly bring us happiness and eternal life.  And for this reason the Lord has warned us, 'wo be unto him that is at ease ini Zion! and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil and ye be led away captive by him.'  The Gospel isn't just a 'to do' list of 'fun suggestions' or 'good ideas'.  The Gospel is our protection!  The Gospel is the ONLY way that we can defend ourselves and our families from Satan's influence.  Family pray, daily scripture study as a family and personally, FHE, visiting teaching, home teaching, attending church meetings, living worthy and honoring our covenants, obeying the commandments (tithing, word of wisdom, the law of chastity, etc) -- these are the things that will truly protect us.  We can't afford to make excuses to not do these things.  Instead, we need to make excuses TO DO them!!  This Gospel is true!  When we live the principles of the Gospel we will have true happiness in our own lives and in our families.  And one day, if we remain faithful and endure to the end, we will receive eternal life!  This Gospel is glorious!  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012



In Natal I would occassionally be questioned about my nationality or someone might comment on how strong my accent was, but for the most part people didn't feel the need to state the obvious...not so in Guarabira.  My companion and I will enter a home and someone goes running to invite the whole family to come see the two Americans that are in their home.  Everyone wants to talk to us, touch us, and wave at us! hahaha!  I feel like such a rare gem here in Guarabira and that's even with basically no make up, unattractive sandals, simple hairstyle (up and out of my face), and sweating like I just sat in a sauna for 10 minutes!  The city of Guarabira is about as big as Shippensburg (mais ou menos); small enough that people in the market know who we are and ask about where 'the other sister' went.  Friday night was some kind of festa (in reality where there's a Brazilian there's a festa!) and everybody had a bonfire lit in front of their house roasting corn on the cob or just sitting there watching as their children shot off fireworks and other explosives!  Sometime, just for fun, turn on some crazy, upbeat music really loud, add fireworks and other explosives going off in the background, then throw in some yelling children and drunk men, finally turn on a smoke machine to blind your eyes, AND then try and share a message about the Gospel with someone!  I always had this perfect image in my mind of what a mission would be like - sitting in someone's living room, no distractions, the spirit's strong and the person is attentive and can feel the spirit too, we teach our lesson, ask questions, answer questions, and then leave the house feeling like we're walking on sunshine! - HA!  and yet the Gospel still goes forth!  No unhallowed hand can stop this great work (and that includes fireworks, festas, yelling children, and bonfires)!  This Gospel is true and every man, woman, and child will have the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel.  I love missionary work!  It's repetitive, it's exhausting, it's dirty, it's dang hard, but despite all this it's the greatest privilege to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, to watch as He guides my companion and I to reach out to His children and to bless their lives.  There really is no other greater work on the face of this earth than this; to bring souls unto Christ!!