Thursday, July 25, 2013


This week, my companion and I planned a great FHE with our recent convert, Pedro, and his family.  We are trying to help his wife have more spiritual experiences so that she will have the desire to come to church with Pedro and start receiving the lessons.  We gave a terrific lesson about eternal marriage and the importance of the family.  It was touching to watch the 7 year old daughter of Pedro say the opening prayer with Pedro helping along when she needed it.  I can't describe how much I love this family!  After the lesson, Pedro and his wife invited us to stay and eat dinner with them.  As we finished eating, we began to converse about the strange animals and insects that we had seen in the Paraiba.  I told a story about being in someone's home when a scorpion came out from under the sofa and the member grabbed a book and smashed the scorpion.  A few minutes later, Pedro pointed to the sofa where Sister Meireles and I were sitting and said with complete calmness, "barata".  I figured that he was just joking with us because we were talking about insects and he wanted to startle us.  I hardly believed I would see a 'barata' at my side when I looked down, but I decided to check just to make sure.  I only needed less then a second to see the barata, register in my mind that Pedro was not joking, and leap of the sofa and to the other side of the room!  Sister Meireles still thought that all of us were joking until the barata began to crawl up her back!  hahaha!  I was glad that I was on the other side of the room! hehe  Em fim, we all laughed for awhile after Pedro's wife saved Sister Meireles from the barata on her back!

Our ward in Bessa doesn't have a chapel yet.  It has only been about 3 years since the ward was formed, and the stake wants the ward in Bessa to have enough members to divide into two wards before they build an official chapel.  In the time being, the ward is meeting in an old warehouse...I love it!  Every Sunday I get to sit up front to play the piano or direct the music, and I can just observe.  This Sunday, I watched as two or three birds flew in between the open windows near the ceiling.  I smiled as a member ran to unplug a fun that was making a very strange noise and appeared to be on the verge of exploding.  I noticed the large, bulky door at the back of the warehouse and a member with his small daughter ducking out.  As I observed, I thought back on all of my crazy apartments that I have lived in on the mission.  The apartment that had a toilet that didn't flush.  Or the apartment that flooded everytime it rained, the apartment with only one window in the basement of a building, the apartment with a door that only shut when you slammed it, the apartment with a shower that didn't drain, the apartment with the window that we climbed in and out of, and the apartment with bats, lizards, and spiders.  As I thought about all of these things, I realized that for as much as we complain about these small annoyances in the moment, they are what we remember in the future, and look back on with fondness.  It's not the perfect, well kept chapel that makes a unified ward and creates great memories.  It's not the smooth running, sleek car that gives a family stories to tell.  But it's those moments when we don't have the 'perfect'  or 'ideal' situation that we end up learning and laughing the most.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beans and Blessings!

Even after 14 months of being in Brazil, I find it incredible that I still have adventures with the food.  After we had taught a lesson, the aunt of our investigator gave us some soup that was made from beans and rice.  We took the soup home, stuck it in our fridge, and forgot about it until the end of the week when all of our food was gone except for this soup.  None of the other Sisters in our apartment would touch the soup, but I don't like to see food wasted (even if it has a high probability to cause something terrible to happen to my insides).  Not only did I eat the soup, but I made the mistake to eat the soup for a night time snack and then for breakfast in the morning.  By lunch time, I was suffering.  My stomach and intestines were so full of gasses, it looked like an inflated balloon!  I haven't felt this terrible since the time I went on a 'homemade refried bean' kick in college and ate burritos for about every meal for a week! hahaha 

Last Sunday, I received a call from our Ward Mission Leader, "Sister, the cousin of Vitoria wants to be baptized.  Can you and your companion teach her this week?"  It didn't take me any time at all to answer that question!  We went to the home of Vitoria Sunday night, talked with her cousin, the sweetest 11-year old girl, (Alice) and marked her baptism for the up coming Saturday!  Alice had been coming to church with Vitoria every Sunday, and out of the blue today, asked what she needed to do to be baptized!  During this week, as I thought about the role of the members in missionary work, I couldn't help but think about how successful missionary work would be and the retention rate, if every member truly did their part to invite their friends and family to visit with the missionaries.  I love how in this past Conference, the suggestion was made that when our friends start to ask questions about the Church, we shouldn't just answer all of their questions by ourselves, but we should say, "Let's ask the missionaries, and if you want, I will be by your side the whole time!"  As missionaries, not only will we be able to respond their questions, but we will be able to invite them to come unto Christ and know for themselves that this Gospel is true!!  For all you faithful members out there...I have an invitation for you!  This week, whether it be in person or facebook, or cell phone, invite someone to visit with the missionaries  (that doesn't mean that they have to accept, but you at least have to invite!!) I promise that if you invite someone to visit with the missionaries this week, you will be filled with more vigor and excitement to take part in the Lord's great work!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Côcegas e Oraçoes

My companion has discovered that I am very ticklish on the stomach, but I explained to her that we will be spending every minute of everyday together for 6-12 weeks, so she had better choose wisely her actions.  Consequently, she promised not to tickle me, but that didn't stop her from using other methods.  One of our investigators lives with his mother who is 89 years old.  This dear woman is the tiniest, most fragile person that I have seen in my life, but still has good health and energy.  While we were talking to her, she felt the need to hold my right hand.  My companion saw the perfect opportunity to make the comment that I liked it when people touched my stomach.  I tried to explain quickly to the woman that my companion was joking, and that it wouldn't be a good idea to touch my stomach, but the poor thing was hard of hearing and went ahead.  When a person is ticklish, they're ticklish, and there is nothing you can do about it...let's just say that when the little old woman touched my stomach it was a good thing she was holding onto my hand because my sudden reaction almost knocked her on the ground!  The old woman looked at me and in all seriousness said, "Você tem côcegas mesmo na barriga!  O que você vai fazer quando um rapaz tocar sua barriga?!"  Eu respondi, "não deixar!!"  rsrsrs!  Mas foi engraçado!  

This week, my testimony and understanding of prayer has been strengthened.  As I pondered about various prayers that I have given, and the different answers that I have received, I began to recognize that the prayers that were answered were the prayers that I truly had tried to seek the will of the Lord, and aline my desires and requests with the blessings that He was already willing to give me.  So, this week, I made a goal to stop praying for general things, and to make more specific requests that focused on seeking the Lord's will and not my own.  All this week, we have been preparing a man named Pedro to be baptized on Saturday.  From the first day that we met him to this week, it has been incredible to watch how his countenance has changed and how his excitement and desire to be baptized has grown.  The first part of the week, everything went well.  He had managed to go from smoking 40 cigaretts a day to only one, and his wife who is firm in another church was begining to open up more and seem more supportive.  Yet, Friday morning, the day of his baptismal interview, I knew from experience that our day woudn't be floating on a cloud.  As we finished our companionship study, my companion and I knelt to pray.  Instead of simply praying that everything would go smoothly for the interview and that Pedro would pass, I prayed that we would be blessed with the spirit to know what to say to Pedro or to his wife to resolve whatever possible problem that could arise to inhibit Pedro's baptism.  At 5:45, we showed up at Pedro's house to take him to the church for his interview at 6:00.  When we arrived, his daughter was playing outside with her friends.  She looked at us and said, "My father called and said that he is working right now, and that he won't get home until 9:00 pm."  My heart sunk.  Of all the possible problems that could have arroused, I hadn't imagined this one. Pedro was super excited for his baptism, and I couldn't imagine that he would let anything interfere with it.  My companion and I stood in silence looking at Pedro's daughter, neither one of us knowing what to do, and neither one of us wanting to believe that Pedro truly wasn't home at that moment to come with us to his baptismal interview.  After asking a few more questions, we simply turned around and starting walking away with that heavy dread in our hearts that we wouldn't have a baptism tomorrow.  When we had gone about 50 meters, I had the sudden thought, "Go back and talk with Pedro's wife."  I stopped in my tracks, looked at my companion and said, "Let's go back and talk to Pedro's wife, maybe she can tell us if he is truly working right now and when he'll come home."  We immediately returned to Pedro's home, and knocked on the door.  Pedro's wife let us in, and we asked her if she knew when Pedro would arrive from work.  We talked for a bit, and then all of a sudden she said, "Can I ask you two a question?"  She then expressed to us some concerns and doubts that she had, and we were able to answer her questions and put her mind at peace.  She then shared with us that ever since we had began to visit Pedro, she had seen an immense change in him.  She told us that she wanted to support his baptism because he had never had this desire to be baptized before.  When I mentioned to her that we would probably need to move the baptism to Sunday because Pedro would miss his interveiw, she replied with a lot of emotion, "No!  Pedro is excited and ready to be baptized tomorrow, and we shouldn't postpone what we can do today until tomorrow!"  My companion and I were pleasantly surprised at the support that Pedro's wife showed.  As we were finishing our conversation, miracle of miracles, Pedro walked through the door!!  After a quick shower and a fast pace walk to the Church, Pedro passed his interveiw to be baptized on Saturday!!  As my companion and I walked home Friday night, we conversed about the day's events.  If we hadn't listened to the spirit to go back and talk with Pedro's wife, we wouldn't have answered her questions and strenthened her confidence and trust in us, and most importantly, we wouldn't have been in Pedro's home when he returned home from work much earlier than we had been advised.  I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers.  As I read in the Liahona this month, prayer is not a business negotio with God to try and convince Him to give us something that we believe is best for us.  Prayer is to understand our Father's will, and then to change our desires and hearts to follow His will and become more like Him.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Soccer in Brazil

Yesterday, was the final soccer game after a series of games with various soccer teams from around the world.  In the two teams that played, one was Brazil.  Let me tell you what, Brazilians love their soccer, and they love it when their country is playing!  At 7:00 pm, the game started, and our work moved from contacts to member visits!  Even though we couldn't watch the game, it didn't matter.  We knew exactly what was going one because everytime Brazil made a goal, the entire street erupted in cheers, and the city shot of a bunch of fire works.  This was us in our lesson with a member, "Let's read a scripture in Moroni 10.  As we learn" ----  Screams and fireworks ------  "Brazil made another goal" -----  and continuing ---- "we need to continue inviting others to learn more about the" ------ Screams and fireworks -----  "Brazil is 'show de bola'! another goal!!"  hahaha :)  I like to see team spirit that Brazil has when it comes to soccer.

After the missionary fireside, two Sundays ago, I spoke with our Bishop and asked him how he would like us to apply what the Prophet and Apostles had taught us.  He told us that he had thought of a number of families that not all the members were baptized.  He mentioned on family, in which only the daughter was baptized.  We had already met the mother and other siblings because we had eaten lunch with them, but we had never met the father.  Our Bishop told us that the father was a great man, who could do a lot for the Church.  In our interaction with the daughter that is already a member, we had the knowledge that her family had an apartment where they lived, and that they also had a home where her father spent most of his time painting because he is a famous painter in Joao Pessoa.  However, we did not know the address of this home or any reference point.  In the evening of the same day that my companion and I had spoken to our Bishop of the father of this member, we were returning home at night, walking in a street that we had never walked down before.  As we were walking, we passed a home with some interesting, ceramic paintings on the outer wall.  I paused and examined the paintings more closely.  They were the exact type of paintings that I had scene in the apartment of this family.  I looked at my companion and said, "This is not a coincidence, let's knock here and see if the father is home!"  We clapped our hands at the gate, and the father answered!  It provided a perfect opportunity to get to know him better and have him get to know us.  Just like we were taught by the 'parable of the father' in the missionary fireside, this work doesn't have a step by step guide book.  We have to move forward with faith and confide in the spirit to guide us as we strive to help others come unto Christ!  I LOVE missionary work!  It doesn't matter who we are, what stage of life we are in, or what calling we hold in the Church, ALL of us have been called to work in the vineyard!  Certainly, this work is the greatest and the most marvelous work that we can be a part of!!