Friday, March 29, 2013

The Book of Mormon and Bats

Monday night, my companion and I returned from teaching and began to make our plans for the next day.  The other two Sisters weren't feeling very well, so they were already asleep in the other room.  As Sister Oliveira and I were talking, I notices a furry little creature scurry across the hallway and into the bedroom where the other Sisters were sleeping.  I stopped Sister Oliveira in mid-sentence and said, 'I think I just saw a mouse run into the bedroom!'  Since the room was completely dark, we grabbed a flashlight, and cautiously crept into the other room.  We carefully passed the dim light of the flashlight across the floor, behind the door, and then near the bed of one of the Sisters.  It was hardly noticeable, but there at the end of the bed was a tiny, furry creature, clinging on to the sheet.  As I pointed it out to Sister Oliveira, the furry creature burst into flight.  As you can imagine, our reaction was not one of calmness and maturity.  We both screamed, Sister Oliviera dropped to the floor, and I leaped into the other room where we had been studying!  No one in our apartment (or the apartments next door), was sleeping at this point! hahaha  With an attentive audience, the other two Sisters, Sister Oliviera and I chased the bat around for about 5 or so minutes until we were finally able to catch it in a bucket and dump it out of the window!  That poor bat will probably need therapy after the trauma it suffered in our apartment! heehee

In an effort to continue using creative ideas to find more people to teach, we have begun to teach an English class.  This past week, the other Sisters brought two investigators, a 65 year old woman, and a 52 year old woman!  In one of the activities that we did, I asked our 'students' to think of a phrase that they would need to know how to say in English if they were in the US.  One of the women instantly replied, "Eu sou Brasileira e eu estou em apuros!!"  (I'm a Brazilian and I am in desperate need!!)  hahaha!  Yep, I guess that would be an important phrase to know if you were in the US for the first time and didn't know any other English!

During our most recent training with Pres. Hall, he emphasized the importance of using the Book of Mormon in every aspect of our work.  In order to put in practice this counsel, Pres Hall invited all of us to always walk with a Book of Mormon in our hand (not in our bags).  This past week, we were making a contact with a man and I showed him a picture of Jesus Christ in the Americas after his resurrection.  When I mentioned the word 'resurrection', the man became very interested.  At the beginning of our conversation, he had mentioned that his wife had passed away a year ago.  I felt prompted to ask him if he wondered where his wife was right now, and what happened after death.  At first, he denied that he had a curiosity about this topic, but then all of a sudden, he stopped, looked up at me, and asked, "but really, where is my wife right now?"  We then had a wonderful opportunity to use the Book of Mormon to teach this man about the spirit world and the resurrection.  

Another investigator, was struggling to overcome various difficulties, and my companion and I felt that we needed to help him understand the importance of reading the Book of Mormon every day.  After our lesson with him, he began to read.  Two days later, when we passed by again, his mother told us that she has never seen her son so happy.  Our investigator also told us that he had never felt so good before in his life!  Time and time again, the power of the Book of Mormon is manifested to me!  I don't know how it works, but I know that it does!  If you have a question, if you are struggling with a weakness, if you need counsel, if you are depressed, the Book of Mormon will help!  Within its pages, you will find the answers to the questions of your soul, the strength to overcome your weaknesses, the counsel to guide your life, and the happiness to raise your spirits.  I know without a shadow of a doubt, that the Book of Mormon is true!  Read it everyday!  Pray and ponder about its teachings!  It has the power to change your life!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Water Ad

As my companion and I were walking to lunch one day, we were talking about how we would like to lose some weight, and how we should go about acheiving this goal (this conversation is just about as common as our conversation about when we should make ou next batch of chocolate chip cookies...hahaha, yes, I know, não faz sentido).  When we arrived at the Irmã 's home, she began to tell us that strange things were appearing in her water.  She then brought out a tiny plastic cup of water that she had filled from the tap.  As I looked into the cup, I could see 10 or so baby worms swimming around in the water (talk about instant shivers)!  Normally the water from the tap isn't that bad, but Sousa hasn't had a good rainstorm (rain for a week or longer) in about a year or longer.  So, the water is getting low and other exciting things are appearing.  When my companion looked into the cup I jokingly made the comment, "How much weight do you think we'd lose if we drank that cup of water?!"  Needless to say, we evaluated the pros and cons of the situation and decided that it would be better to try other methods of weight loss! hahaha

This past week, we had two baptisms scheduled for Saturday.  At the last minute, our second baptism fell through.  For the rest of the weekend I prayed and pondered a lot about this investigator, trying to receive inspiration on why he had given up at the last minute when he had seemed so firm, and how we could help him set another date to be baptized.  As I thought back on everything we had taught him, I remembered on lesson when he had acted a little strange.  When I shared this with my companion, she concorded with me.  When we arrived at his house on Tuesday, we began to ask inspired questions.  My companion asked him if we had taught him something that he thought would be difficult to obey.  He replied that we had, but wouldn't come out and say what it was.  In that moment, I could see clearly in my mind the commandment that he was struggling with.  I didn' give myself a second to doubt the inspiration, and immediately asked him if it was this commandment.  He replied that it was.  It was incredible experience, an Ammon and King Lamonhi type of experience.  My companion and I had used observations, study, prayer, inspired questions, and than trust in the Spirit to pin point the nesessity of our investigator.  Once we understood his need, we were able to once more follow the spirit and teach a lesson that helped him overcome his fears and doubts and fortify his desire to be baptized!  I know that the gift of discernment is real!  When we righteously and diligently strive to serve and bless others, we will receive the needed guidance and inspiration!  We are not alone on this journey or this task to strengthen our families, wards, and stakes!  I know that this Church is true!  We are guided by a living Prophet who recieves revelations daily!  This is the only true Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Maior Alegria!!!

On November 4, 2012, André Perreira da Silva entered the waters of baptism and became a 'new creature', 'born again' in Christ. During the follow weeks, he became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he received the Holy Ghost and the Priesthood of God.  As he continued to progress in the Gospel, learning and sharing with others his new font of happiness, he had a goal; he yearned for the opportunity to hold his arm to the square and using the Priesthood of God that he had worthily received, perform the ordinance of baptism for someone else.  On March 10, 2013, Maria de Fatima Perreira de Andrade entered the waters of baptism where André stood waiting to help her down the steps and perform her baptism!  It was an incredible moment as I stood near the font, watching as two very special children of God, who I love beyond description, took important steps in their lives to draw closer to their Heavenly Father.  

For one month now, we have been teaching Maria, Nataliany, and Raquel.  All of them have embraced the Gospel with all their heart and soul.  However, because of their ages, they needed to receive permission from their parents before they could be baptized.  The weekend that they planned to ask their parents, my companion and I prayed and fasted for two days.  I was positive that Heavenly Father would answer our prayers, soften the hearts of the parents, and on Monday when we showed up to talk to Nataliany and Raquel they would tell us, with smiles on their faces, that they had received permission to be baptized.  You can imagine my shock as I left their apartment Monday night with their words echoing in my mind, "our parents won't let us be baptized".  I walked in silence through the dark streets of Sousa, but in my mind I was having a heated conversation with my Heavenly Father; "How could you do this to me?  Or better, how could you do this to them?  Don't you want them to be baptized?  Can't you see their desire?  Didn't we fast and pray for a miracle?  What was the point of my promise to them that if they fasted and prayed along with us that they would receive permission?"  As this thoughts angrily replayed over and over in my head, a calm voice broke through the anger and said, "Patience, Courtney, I am the 'master gardner' I know what I am doing.  I can see the full picture, and I know what needs to happen in your life, in the lives of these young girls, and in the lives of their parents. Have patience, and all my promised blessings will be fulfilled."  It was a humbling moment to realize how foolish I was to be angry at God.  Who was I to dictate what should or should not happen in my life?  My Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself, and He certainly knows what I need to experience to become the person that He needs and wants me to become.  I know that as we trust in the Lord, and have patience in His promised blessings, we will become more like our Savior. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Power of Change

There is nothing more sweet to my ears, than to ask an investigator if they read the Book of Mormon, and then to hear them say, "yes! I read the part you marked, and now I'm reading from the beginning and I'm in 1 Nephi 12!  I LOVE the Book of Mormon; de verdade, I am passionate about the Book of Mormon.  I love it's stories, it's teachings, and it's power to answer the questions of the soul.  So, when an investigator begins to embrace the Book of Mormon and understand it's power and wonderfulness, I become immensely happy, almost to the point of having literal sunbeams shooting from my skin!  It is incredible to watch as the principles of the Gospel truly change peoples lives.  During a lesson with one of our investigators, we asked him how he shows his faith in God.  He replied that he shows his faith by saying kneeling prayers.  He told us that before he met us, he had never said a prayer on his knees before, but now he always kneels to pray!  Another investigator got up during our Fast and Testimony meeting this Sunday, and bore her testimony about how she had always read the Bible, but when she read the Book of Mormon she could feel something different, something special! I know that this Gospel has the power to change our lives!  We know the truth!  We know what path to follow.  The only thing that we need to do is APPLY these principles into our lives.  I know that as we apply the principles of the Gospel in our lives, just like my investigators, read the Book of Mormon, say kneeling prayers, go to church, obey the commandments, we too will experience a might change in our hearts!