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!!