Monday, April 29, 2013

Flip Flops and Water - Lots of it!

Well, we have officially entered the 'epoca de chuva' here in João Pessoa.  Every morning, we wake up to pouring rain, and if we're lucky we get to walk in it all day as well!  Early in the week, we returned home from an uneventful P-Day shopping trip to realize that we had lost the keys to our front door.  Once the reality of the situation sunk in, the four of us calmly walked around to the bedroom window almost at the back of the house, pushed it open, and climbed in.  For the next three days, we entered and left our apartment climbing in and out of our bedroom window!  hahaha!  Just imagine what a sight we made, four girls in skirts climbing in and out of a window!  It's a good thing that the window is at the back of our house and no one from the street can see us!

Tuesday morning, my companion woke up throwing up, and one of the other Sisters woke up sick as well.  The two of us healthy Sisters climbed out the window and headed to the Farmácia to buy some 'Dramin'.  When we returned back to the house, I began to feel sick as well.  So, I took some 'Dramin' and laid down to see if I could get feeling better by the afternoon to get out and work.  Imagine - on a normal day I can sleep like a rock in qualquer lugar e em qualquer momento...add some medicine with a strong sleeping effect, and I sleep like a dead person.  Literally, I laid down at around 9:00 am, and when I returned to conciousness, it was 7:00 pm!!  Needless to say, my companion and I didn't get out to work on Tuesday.  The next few days of walking in a constant state of 'soaked' because of the rain were perfect to recuperate!  Yet, the Lord blessed us because of our diligence and sacrifice.  On Saturday our investigator Josivan was baptized!!!  

No baptism is a calm baptism.  Sempre, sempre, sempre tem alguma bagunça no dia do batismo!!  Saturday, my companion and I were walking to lunch, when all of a sudden, my sandals that I have used for about a year, broke!  We were 30 minutes from our apartment, no time to return, and I had 10 reais in my bag.  So, we did the only sensible thing we could do in the moment, entered the nearest Mercadinho, and bought a pair of flipflops!  It was strange walking in the streets with flipflops, showing off the awesome tanline that I had after one year of using the same kind of sandal in the sun, but it was better than walking bearfoot!  Our next bit of excitement happened as we were walking to the Church for the baptism.  We had planned for our ward mission leader to pass by the home of Josivan and pick him up.  Thirty minutes before the baptism, our cell phone rang.  It was our ward mission leader.  "Oí Sisters, eu passei na casa de Josivan, mas ele não estava.  Tudo estava fechado.  Eu acho que ele fugiu..."  I listened in stunned silence, but replied calmly.  "Tá bom, vamos passar na casa da mãe dele, e depois nós vamos na igreja."  Sister De Paula and I turned around, and headed to Josivan's mother's home.  She told us that she had no idea where Josivan was.  So, we decided to pass by Josivan's home by the slim chance that he might have returned during this brief period of time.  The whole time we were walking, I was praying that by some miracle we could run into Josivan in the road, or at least find him at home.  The tiny alley way that led to Josivan's house was completely dark, but I could hear music playing faintly in the darkness.  We entered, and approached Josivan's door.  There, in a hammock, lay Josivan, sound asleep, and listening to some Bob Marley type of music.  Apparently, he had worked later than normal, arrived home after our ward mission leader had stopped by, and went to sleep.  We woke him up, talked him through putting a towel and some clothes in a backpack, and headed off to the Church for his baptism!!  Even now, I can hardly believe that Josivan was baptized.  There have been countless obstacles placed in his path to prevent his baptism, but each time, a miracle has happened to make his baptism possible.  Truly, the Lord is in control.  This is His work, and nothing can stop it as it moves forward, filling the entire earth!!  I love this Gospel, and I love this blessed opportunity that I have to be a missionary and help others fill their lives with the blessings of the Gospel!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Lord's Answers

The first three days in Bessa Sister De Paula and I spent much of our time getting to know the area, trying to meet the members, and searching for an apartment.  In all of this craziness, we did our best to find people to teach and fulfill the key indicator goals that we have every week.  It was the Saturday night after the second session of General Conference, and we had managed to get two young men from our ward to show us around their neighborhood.  As we were walking down the streets of their neigborhood, we stopped to make a contact.  In the middle of our contact, another man showed up and listened in. Out of habit, I included him in the invitation to come to church with us the next Sunday.  He replied that he couldn't come this Sunday, but that he would go the next Sunday.  Since he showed a little potential, we asked for his address.  However, he had recently moved houses, and we had no idea where anything was.  So, we grabbed what reference points we could from him and marked a return visit, with no idea how we would find his house to make this visit.  The next week, we headed to the local where this man had described.  We spent 30-60 minutes walking up and down the street asking people if they knew our investigator.  (Usually, if you hit the right street where someone lives, you just have to say their name and anyone can tell you where they live!)  After an hour of searching and no progress, we decided to give up and head to another investigator's house.  Our other investigator lives on the same street, but down a little alley way.  As we knocked on her door, the neighbor stuck out their head to see who was knocking.  Much to our astonishment, the neighbor was the man we had meant on Saturday and had been searching for for the past hour!  Without a doubt, the Lord knew that this man was prepared to hear and accept the Gospel because there is no other way we would have found his home if we hadn't been led by the spirit!  It has been incredible to watch this man's progress in such a short time.  After the first lesson with him, he began to read the Book of Mormon from the beginning, and reads a little everyday when he comes home from work!  Before every lesson, he always has a list of questions for us about something that he has read in the Book of Mormon!  When we taught him about the Word of Wisdom, he willingly gave us all the coffe he had in return for another type of drink that is similar to coffee, but not harmful (Cevada).  He is truly an 'eleito'!  Yet, as his baptism drew closer, he expressed his fear of being baptized and then falling away because of a lack of friends or other temptations.  Sister De Paula and I used and said everything to help resolve his worries and doubts, but nothing worked.  Finally, I looked him in the eye and said, "You are prepared to be baptized, but you need to receive this confirmation from God.  So, we have a special invitation for you.  Tonight, you will pray and ask God whether or not you should be baptized.  Then, you are going to open up the Book of Mormon and place your finger on a verse and start to read.  I know that Heavenly Father will answer your prayer with what you read.  Do you have the faith that you will receive an answer in this way?"  Our investigator looked calmly back at me, and with total confidence replied, "Yes, I believe, and I will do this tonight."  The next day, we arrived at his house, anxious to see what his answer had been.  We started out the lesson, and he told us that he had said the prayer and opened the Book of Mormon.  We asked him where he had opened up to.  A few suspensful minutes passed by as he thumbed through the pages looking for the verse that he had read and marked.  At the point when the silence was almost suffocating, he spoke, "I read here," and motioned to a verse in the book of Alma.  We asked him if he could read it for us.

"...I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers." (
Alma 24:7)

As he read, it was all I could do but shout for joy!  I started praying in my head, "please help him understand this verse in the same way that I am understanding this verse, because this is the answer he needs!!"  Once he finished reading, I looked up at him and asked, "what was your answer?"  He smiled and replied, "you are the people that God has sent to me to help me follow Jesus Christ and live a better life."  YES!!!!  I love the answers that Heavenly Father gives!!  They are always so perfect, so simple, and so clear!  I know that Heavenly Father understands our worries and doubts.  He knows us in a very personally way; and if we seek His help through study and pray, we will find specific and clear answers for our lives as well!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fogo Nos Ossos!!

While I was in Sousa, the four of us Sisters who lived together had a saying that we always said as we left our apartment to go to work.  We said, "Sorriso no rosto, fogo nos ossos, e Livro de Mórmon na mão!"  (Smile on your face, fire in your bones, and Book of Mormon in hand!)  Everyday, it's what we said to get ourselves pumped up to head out in the burning sun and preach the Gospel!  My favorite part about this saying is the part in the middle, "fogo nos ossos!"  The interesting things about this saying, is that the prophet Jeremiah also used this terminolgy to describe his passion for the Gospel.  During a very difficult time in his life, when he was imprisioned, mocked, and persecuted, the prophet Jeremiah became discouraged.  In Jeremiah 20:9, he expresses his feelings of wanting to give up, but then he says, "but his word (the word of God) was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones...and I could not stay!"  I love this description!  Even amidst his trials and persecutions, the prophet Jeremiah burned with the energy and power of the word of God.  The key to obtaining this same passion for the Gospel in our own lives, is found in the very same scripture; "The word was in mine heart."  Everyone of us will feel weak at times, but where do we find our strength - in the word of God - the scriptures!  When we truly have the word of God written upon our hearts, we too will have 'fire in our bones' to serve the Lord, and conquer the trials we are called to bear.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


A couple months ago, we had a special training with Elder Christenson.  During his time in Brazil, Elder Christenson commented with Pres. Hall about the change in age for missionaries and how this would affect the various missions in the world in relation to creating more missions, training all these missionaries, calling more mission presidents, finding more apartments, and just accommodating for more missionaries.  Elder Christenson told Pres. Hall that when the Prophet received the revelation to change the age, he didn’t tell them how they were going to accommodate more missionaries in the field, he just told them to find a way to make the changes!  It's a lot like how the Lord commanded Nephi to go and get the plates.  Nephi wasn't given specific plans, he had to go forward, excercising faith in the Lord, and as he followed the spirit he was able to fulfill the will of the Lord.  When Pres. Hall called me and my 'daughter' to serve in Bessa, he gave us two instructions, 1) Find a place to live and 2) Work hard!  Without any idea of what the area was like, or who the members were, we left the mission home and headed to the Bus station.  At the bus station, a member recognized our badges and greeted us.  I asked him if he lived in Bessa.  He replied that he didn't, but that a member from Bessa was arriving shortly to drop of their son.  From this member, we were able to get the number of the Bishop, call him, and set up an appointment to visit with him that very afternoon.  Finding the Bishop's house was another adventure!  With only a few reference points, we asked around to know which bus we should take, and headed off into the jungle of the city of João Pessoa.  And so, our adventure began!  Each day is a miracle as we hitch hike (take alternativos) or take a bus from Cabedelo (where we are lving right now with other Sisters), to Bessa, and then somehow we find our way around and make our way back to Cabedelo at night.  The members in Bessa are super helpful, and very excited to have Sisters.  When we went to the stake center to watch Conference, we walked in and everyone started whispering, "It's Sisters, I haven't seen Sisters here for years!"  I feel like a celebrity!  I am grateful for this opportunity to help the Lord's work move forward, and to literally take part in the Prophet's counsel to make the changes necessary to accomodate more missionaries!  When the Lord commands, He always provides a way!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Grande Coisas

Saturday, we had marked the baptism of Edmundo.  Edmundo was supposed to be baptized on the 9th, but fell through.  We found out his problem, and worked hard to help him overcome his difficulties.  This past week, when we were teaching him, he practically cited Mosiah 5 (I think) to us when he said that he had no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually.  So, when his baptism fell through again this Saturday, I was a bit disappointed and confused.  However, I will not have the opportunity to help him overcome whatever is his challenge this time because I was transferred!!!

Saturday night, Sister Oliveira and I returned to our apartment, low in spirits, but determined to be positive and happy.  As we were putting the uneaten cookies from the baptism in the fridge, our cell phone rang.  "Oi Sister Fernelius, I have some news for you.  Tomorrow, you will go to the Bus station and buy a ticket to João Pessoa because you will be training again!"  I was dumb founded, and could only reply, "but Elder, can we buy tickets on Sunday?!" hahaha  Then, an even bigger surprise, Elder Williams asked to speak to my daughter, Sister Oliveira.  "Sister Oliveira, you need to buy a ticket to João Pessoa as well, because you will be training também!!!"  What the what!!!!!?  My daughter will be training right after being trained!!!  Pres Hall must have a lot of confidence that I trained her well!  Yesterday, I received my second daughter, Sister Da Paula from Maceió (she doesn't know Elder Erler).  We are opening an area in João Pessoa (bairro Bessa) that has always, always, always been the area of the assistants!  First, I open an area in Sousa that has always been the area of Líderes de Zona, and now I am opening an area that has always been the area of assistants!  Isso aí!  When Pres Hall was interviewing my daughter, he told her that she needed to learn a lot from me because he would need her help to train in May (5 weeks from now) because are mission is scheduled to receive 14 Sisters!!!!  Right now we have 22 Sisters!  It feels good to know that Pres Hall has such great confidence in my training abilities!  Sister Da Paula is amazing and we are going to tear apart Bessa!  When I was in Sousa, I said a prayer one night, "Heavenly Father, I am on fire, and I want to work.  I am ready to truly give everthing that I am.  Please, send me to open an area training an American" (the American part wasn't answered, but Heavenly Father answered the rest of my prayer!)  I LOVE missionary work!  I never want my mission to end.  Literally, Literally, I am seeing the promise fulfilled that I received when I was in Guarabira -- "you will be more than a conquerer" (Romans 8)  I love this work!!  

Some quick facts:
I lived in four different apartments in Sousa!  After the third move I mentioned to a member, "If President Hall needs to move missioanries, he can count on me!"  hahaha  I should be careful what I say!  Right now, my companion and I are living in Cabedelo with other Sisters, but we need to find an apartment in Bessa where we can live!