Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains are the Feet

I never was a person to stress.  Perhaps it was because I always exercised a lot, ate healthy, had quick and ready access to cookies and chocolate when needed, or for whatever reason, I just had a much calmer outlook on life; but here on the mission, I stress.  It isn't that type of stress that everyone can see, but it's the kind of stress that eats at my from the inside out.  The kind of stress that often even I don't notice until something drastic happens, like a red light flashing in my face - "you are stressed out, you need to calm down!"

This week, we went on splits with the new Sister Leaders, Sister Britez and Sister Borges, the two Sisters with whom I arrived in the field.  The three of us had a great time reminiscing about the CTM and our various experiences on the mission so far.  I spent the whole day with Sister Borges, making contacts and teaching.  We were out walking in the hot sun from 1:00 pm until 9:00 pm.  My feet, which had various open cuts (small and insignificant) because of mosquito bites, had become slightly infected the day before.  I didn't pay them any mind because normally I have a strong immune system that takes care of little things like that.  Plus, I was washing them every morning and night, and soaking them in saline solution (water mixed with salt).  However, by the end of the day with Sister Borges, my right foot was completely swollen, and it was difficult to walk.  Sister Borges took one look at my foot and said, "Sister Fernelius, you need to get rid of the stress in your life!"  I laughed and said, "That's fine coming from the girl who has some stomach disease now because of stress on the mission!"  hahaha  We both laughed about that, but then seriously talked about how we could remove some of the stress in our life.  This past week, had been very difficult for Sister De Paula and I.  We had hardly gotten into any houses, and all of our investigators stopped progredindo.  Sister Borges shared a story she had heard about Pres Bednar going to give a very sick man a blessing.  When Pres Bednar went to give the blessing, he asked the man, "Do you have the faith to not be healed?"  Sister Borges then turned to me and said, "Sister Fernelius, do you have the faith to do everything in your power to baptize, and then not succeed, and on top of that suffer a bit more from illness or injuries?"  This was a deep question.  Everyone always talks about how we need to have the faith to have miracles in our life.  But perhaps, the hardest faith to aquire is the faith to not receive a miracle but to continue to trust in the Lord and obey His commandments.  It made me think of your State Conference notes, Mom, and the talk by Elder Gay.  He was sacrificing everything, and yet he was suffering.  Sometimes, it doesn't make sense, but we have to continue to trust in the Lord and stand in our rank even though it appears as if we will lose it all and that no 'back up help' is on its way.  Well, I decided that I had the faith to give it my all and still 'suffer'.  I took care of my feet, but continued to work, and in the last three days of our week, Sister De Paula and I received an out pouring of blessings!  Truly, the Lord is looking out for us.  As it says in the scriptures, the Lord will 'try the faith of His people', and if we remain faithful além de tudo, o Senhor vai nos fortalecer e tornar nossas fraquezas nossos pontos fortes!

During one of our lunches, a friend of the member who didn't know that he couldn't hug Sisters, went in to give me a hug.  He kind of caught me off guard, so I just accepted the hug, but awkwardly.  Afterward, the member notified him on that little rule, and he became super embarrassad!  When we went to leave after lunch, he didn't even shake my hand, he just smiled and said, "Tchao, sinta você abraçada!"  (consider yourself hugged!)  haha

My feet are doing much better now, and you can thank a bunch of members who gave me rides, and a member who is a doctor who looked at my feet.  Everyone was super great to help me out, and I am pretty much back to normal now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Everyday, I realize just how small this world is.  On Tuesday, there was a leadership training in João Pessoa.  The Sister Britez from Guarabira came in for the meeting, and her companion, Sister Woodland, spent the morning with us.  Sister Woodland is fresh from the CTM in São Paulo and had gotten to know Cassie while she was there!  Cassie had thoughtfully sent a little note with her to bring to me, not even knowing if we would see each other, but it worked out perfectly!!  After we met up with her, we stopped by the store to grab a few things...primarily Nutella because it is only 5 reais in this certain store, and 10 reais or more in every other store.  When the check out lady scanned the Nutella, it came up as 2 reais.  I pointed it out to her and asked her if there was a problem with the computer.  She asked around, and found out that because of the expiration date on the Nutella (June), they were selling it for a reduced price.  Finishing off a container of Nutella before June is no sweat for me, so I went back and grabbed two more, just for good measure! haha!  We had a great companionship study that morning, doing practices in between snacking on Nutella and crackers!

If someone ever needs a cheap idea of how to put more excitement and adventure in their life, I'd tell them to put aside the car for a week, and get out and walk on the streets for 7-8 hours everyday.  Friday was an interesting day.  First, we woke up to down pouring rain.  When the rain didn't stop by lunch time, we decided to take a bus to our lunch appointment instead of walking.  In our hurry to get a bus, we got on the wrong bus, and had a nice hour bus tour of João Pessoa!  Then, just our luck, once we got to our correct stop, it was still raining and we had about a five minute walk to the members' home.  In those few minutes of walking in the down pouring rain, I managed to arrive at the member's home completely soaked.  So much for the bus keeping us dry!  This member happens to be a returned missionary, so she gave me some clothes to wear  during lunch while she dried me dress.  It was a blessing to leave the house with dry clothes, but it didn't last too long with the continued down pour of rain.  By now, the roads were filled with water, and every car that passed by my companion and I feared being sprayed with water.  At one point, we were passing an abnormally large puddle when I saw a bus barrelling down the road toward us.  I didn't think twice - I took off running in the weeds away from the edge of the road.  The bus passed, and didn't even touch the water.  My companion, who had stayed near the road began laughing at me and my insanity.  At that very moment, a tiny, 5 passenger car, zipped by unnoticed, and completely drenched my companion!  hahaha!  I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard.  Oh the good times that happen on the streets!

Our ward mission leader is preparing to serve a mission, and full of energy.  When he was called to be our leader, the first thing he told us is that he wanted to do lots of fun activities with the ward.  My companion and I started brainstorming right away.  This Saturday, we managed to put together an activity that is very similar to the 'minute to win it' challenges.  We divided up into two teams, women vs men (always makes for good competition)!  Then, we had various challenges - Eating a cookie that is on your forehead without using your hands - Sucking up small pieces of candy from one bowl and putting it in another bowl - rolling a coin to fit inbetween the prongs of a fork - and my favorite...eating a plate of spaghetti with your two hands tied to the hands of another person!  All of the members adored the activity!  We even had the Baptist cousion of a recent convert who came to participate and absolutely loved it!  He told us that he would definitely be coming to our next activity.  We invited him to come to church on Sunday, buuut he wasn't quite so sure about that.  Tudo bem, at least he's converted to our fun activities.  We're one step in the right direction!  

During my mission, I've always been interested by the fact that one day we can meet someone who seems super excited to know more about the church, be baptized, or come to church on Sunday, and then when we return to take them to church or commit them to read the Book of Mormon or to be baptized, they have no interest at all.  How can someone go from hot to cold so fast and with seemingly no reason at all?  As I thought about this, I began to wonder if there was a comparison between this and how we act with Heavenly Father at times.  Often, we have moments when we are 'hot'.  We have a great church meeting, or a spiritual experience, and we are totally pumped up to be better and change.  Then, when we return home, and the moment has come to act and put in practice what we have learned and been invited to do, we turn 'cold', and resort back to the way we have been living.  As we learn in 2 Nephi, we have the power to ACT!!!  When we have 'hot' moments in our life, we need to put what we learned into practice and follow the spiritual promptings that we received.  I know that this Gospel is true, and that when we act and put in practice the principles of this Gospel, we will be truly blessed!

Monday, May 13, 2013


The week of transfers always tends to be busier than any other week.  Sister De Paula and I had had very successful days on Monday and Tuesday, so we decided that we wanted to leave our area on Friday to help the Sisters in Cabedelo since the Sister who had stayed in Cabedelo was now training a new missionary.  Everything was perfect until Sister De Paula suddenly become sick Wednesday night.  We both knew that we couldn’t lose another day of work, but Sister De Paula was in no condition to walk in the sun all day.  So, I started thinking of all the options we had.  After numerous phone calls, I finally worked it out that Sister De Paula would stay with a member who lived in the same apartment building as us, and I would go out teaching with a young woman in the ward.  This young woman is preparing to serve a mission, so the day with me doing missionary work was perfect!  

Usually, when we are walking on the streets, we are moving at a pretty fast pace, but I always try to keep my eyes open, looking at each person as I pass and paying attention to how I feel.  One day, as we past a man, he looked at me in the eyes.  We passed him, and I felt the need to look back.  As I looked back, our eyes met again, and I made a movement as if to want to start a conversation with us.  I immediately stopped and began to talk to him.  As it turns out, he had been visiting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints three years ago with a friend.  During this time, he lived with his girlfriend, and wasn’t baptized.  Now, he lives alone, and has a great desire to start coming to Church again and be baptized!  Truly, as it says in Preach My Gospel, the Lord is preparing people to receive the Gospel.  There are people out on the streets every day, just waiting to receive the Gospel.  We just need to believe, have faith, and open our mouths!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Families & Sacrifice

A mission is full of experiences where you do something without really knowing the reason why.  Sister De Paula and I had just finished knocking at a member's home with no success, when I noticed a man standing on the other side of the street.  He didn't appear too well, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to talk to him.  When we began to talk to him, it was clear that he was drunk.  My contacts with drunks usually go something like this, "We have a message that can help you have a better life.  We are missionaries, and we help people change their lives so that they can be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost.  Are you willing to stop drinking and put aside other addictions or sins in order to be baptized?"  I like to make sure that they have no doubts about what our purpose is and what they are going to have to change in order to be baptized.  This man thought for a moment, and agreed that he would like to have a better life, and that he was willing to stop drinking and smoking.  The next question we asked him was if he was legally married.  He replied that he was.  Beleza!!!  As we walked away, I commented to my companion, "It is way easier to help someone stop drinking and smoking than to convince someone that they need to be legally married.  We began teaching this family, and were astonished by how elect they were!  Within a week, the man, stopped drinking and smoking.  The man and his wife both begun to pray everyday, and even though the man doesn't know how to read super well, he is reading a bit in the Book of Mormon everyday as well!  This past Sunday they both came to church and loved it!  During one of our lessons, the man asked us, "Have you guys noticed a change in me?"  We replied, "Indubitably!  Your entire countenance radiates with the righteous changes you are making in your life!"  After about two weeks of visiting them, out of no where I felt prompted to ask the wife if they had truly been married legally.  I pushed the thought aside, because I didn't want to believe that there was possiblity of them not being married legally.  Yet, I couldn't resist the impression.  Imagine my disappointment, when I asked the wife about their marriage, and she replied that they weren't married legally!  NOOOO!!  (remember, it is easier to help someone to stop drinking and smoking than it is to convince someone to get married)  My companion and I taught a great lesson about the importance of marriage, but the very same man who easily stopped drinking and smoking in a week, is now reluctant to marry legally (even though he and his wife have lived together for 13 years)!  Misericordia!!  Our only hope now is to pray for a miracle!  This family is too perfect to not be baptized!

Last Wednesday, Sister De Paula and I packed up everything to move to our new apartment in Bessa.  When we arrived in Bessa, we found out that our washing machine and mattresses hadn't arrived yet.  On top of that, the man who was renting our apartment still had not removed all of his things or cleaned the place.  It didn't take us long to make the decision to return to Cabedelo and wait for a few more days.  If everything goes well, we will be moving today!

This transfer, our Zone is doing an interesting thing.  This month is the last month for President and Sister Hall, and everyone in the mission wants to send them home with lots of baptisms.  So, our Zone has decided to be more unified and make a few more sacrifices in order to receive more blessings.  Every week, our Zone leaders choose one day for all of the missionaries to leave their own areas and to come to another area to make contacts and help find prepared people in that area.  This past Friday, Sister De Paula and I left Bessa for the day and went to the Center of João Pessoa to make contacts.  I couldn't help but worry a bit about our area and the appointments that we were missing, and the people that we were not finding in our area, but I put these thoughts aside, decided to trust in the Lord, and went to work in the Center!  Even though we basically lost an entire day of work in our area, the Lord truly blessed us.  We were able to reach all of our goals, and the biggest miracle was that on Sunday, we had 8 investigators at Church!!  I have a strong testimony of the importance of sacrifices.  Often, the Lord simply wants us to show that we are willing to do His will, and that we trust in Him, even when His commands don't make sense.  Like Abraham and Issac, the Lord didn't want Abraham to truly offer Issac as a sacrifice, He only wanted to see if Abraham trusted in Him enough to obey.  Likewise, we will be asked to make certain sacrifices in our lives that don't make sense, or that seem 'too much to ask'.  Yet, if we are faithful, and trust in the Lord, we will see that the Lord's blessings are far greater than the small sacrifice we are asked to make.