Monday, January 28, 2013

Weather warning for Santos: If it's ridiculously hot and sunny, prepare. Real soon it will dump a rainstorm!

Come listen to an apostle's voice!! This week my life was permenantly changed! We had a special conference with Elder Bednar on tuesday and is was AMAZING! He really is a living apostle called of God. We fasted, read his talks, and were really prepared for his visit. We woke up at 4:20am (yikes!) to get to São Paulo for the conference. For 4 hours straight we just soaked up pure Spirit. The way he taught was so radically different--completely by the Spirit. He told us to get rid of the bad "traditions of our fathers," including avoiding the impulse to write down every word that he said (that would be the large plates of Nephi) but to just write what we learned by the Spirit (the small plates of Nephi). Yeah, pretty sure my large plates are pretty large all these years..but my small plates sure got filled! It's amazing to me how we can all go with questions different, but we all receive very specific answers. The Holy Ghost is amazing! I have a lot to change and improve. But I'm here to serve and just bless others! Here we go!
Other amazing news....miracle baptism! We were able to teach R and witness her baptism and confirmation on Saturday. It was really beautiful. She laughed at how quickly it passed by. She said she thought that the bishop would hold her under water a while to really wash away her sins. We all laughed, but for me, this is a symbolism of the love and forgiveness that Heavenly Father has for us. It doesn't matter what we've done, how many sins or how serious they are--the moment we decide to repent and we start to follow His plan (partaking of the ordinances of the Gospel like baptism and the Sacrament), he forgives us. Just like that! It's quick. It's real. It's beautiful.
So pretty sure that Heavenly Father's lesson for me this transfer is PATIENCE. And the more I try to be patient, the more opportunities Heavenly Father gives me to "practice" :) Until yesterday. We were in a lesson and at the beginning she gave us a huge glass full of juice of maracujá. Well they sure are talkers and not even half way through the lesson I was in desperate need of a bathroom! Oh dear, talk about test of concentration! Alright, but on the serious, I'm really grateful that I have such a patient companion and all that I am learning here.
We played Indiana Jones adventure trying to get to another appointment this week. We went all the way across town in the pouring rain to teach a recent convert. Well the closer we got, the more  flooded the road became. I would have just trekked through it, but Sister M says it's not safe. So we strategized like two mad chess players, and miraculously made it!
Remember everyone, FAITH IS ACTION. I hope that all of you are praying with faith and acting on your prayers. I know he hears and answers, if we are willing to follow His Spirit.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fast blessings? Consider fasting!

Time after time I am amazed and grateful at how quickly and abundantly the Lord responds to our righteous fasting and prayers. Once again He responded as we prayed, fasted, and worked. 14 new investigators! I know that He wants to prove our faith (through our actions) before He can bless us. I hope to keep exercising my faith and working hard so that He can bless this area. We had really neat experiences this week in finding new investigators. I'm really trying to follow the Spirit and open my mouth and take advantage of all opportunities. For everything there is a reason. For this, the Lord really blesses us, but it takes faith every time! We were also bless with a miracle this week. After sacrament meeting, Bishop called us into his office with a couple (a less active and non member) who had just gotten married a few weeks ago. We had visited them on Monday to get to know them and they came to church. R informed us that she wants to mark a date for her baptism! She has been taught by the elders since May 2012, but was held back by the marriage. Well, we marked her baptism for Saturday and are now in the process of making sure that she's been taught everything and is qualified for this special moment. The sisters of Ponta da Praia found a very special woman for us as well. She has 4 kids and came to church with two of them. She's really ready to accept the gospel and is really special. She just has a problem with marriage. We hope to be worthy of these wonderful blessings the Lord is giving us. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Faith is ACTION

So what happened this week, it poured rain, and more rain, and more rain--what a blessing from Heavenly Father, because we've only had two sunny days and I'm already super dark and blonde! Yesterday we were talking to a couple and the man asked me a question, he said "now you can be honest, there aren't any "gringos" here, just brazillians. You talk funny, but you're brazilian."  He thought that I was brazillian and was surprise when we said I was American. How about that? I'm brazillian, gente. It's official.
Sister M and I try to convince people all the time that she's from New York (she actually speaks english really well) and that I'm from her city. Everyone believes her, but only one person has believed me until now because M has a very strong accent, but Sister Melo doesn't have can I learn it if she doesn't speak it? It's quite the joke. I'm so blessed to have Sister M as a companion, we're already best of friends and that makes it so great to interact with everyone else. Lots of stories and jokes and laughs. 
We've started teaching a great couple, C and B, that are really great! They came to church yesterday with their two little girls and they seem to be very interested, especially C. He really is searching for truth. He said he had the opportunity to get baptized in 3 other churches, but hasn't found the right one yet...I know that the Lord has lead us there. It was the elders that had taught him the first time a few months ago, but never again. They were impressed by our organization that we were coming to continue teaching him.

We've discovered that Satan works in all sorts of ways to try and stop this work, but he can't! Our first week here we were walking in the road and all of the sudden, a girl jumped out in front of us and started talking to us. She put out her hand in front of me and I thought "Oh no, we're being robbed." I didn't dare look down to see if she had a gun, until my companion said, shake her hand. Ha ha oh ok. Well she started complimenting everything about me...eyes, skirt, etc. and putting sacks of things in our hands. Turns out she was trying to sell little goody baggies for $6 (or 3 for $15)--way expensive! And we talked with her for a bit and invited her to church and went on our way... Well we were in such a shock from the experience that we became very timid to talk to people in the road...and for some reason it seems like we are walking on eggshells here, we have to be careful of everything that we say. Well we walked around like that for a few days. As you can guess, not much happened. And you know when you haven't done something for a while it's that much harder to do it again the next time.  Well that's how we felt. But we discovered that that was just the enemy's way of trying to frustrate this work, because both President T and I receive revelation that Sister M and I were to be together in this area at this time. Com certeza for a reason, so we can't let anything get in between us and that purpose. We have people to find, souls to save (or help), and lives to change. So we finally overcame our shyness and miracles await! 
I know that this is the Lord's work. I know that everything happens for a reason. I know that all things are possible through faith, and that our faith is measured by our ACTIONS. May you all find the faith and courage to ACT this week on inspired promptings to do good. You can and will be an instrument in the Lord's hand, just remember to ASK WITH FAITH and ACT!
Love you all!

Monday, January 7, 2013

When Grandma's are nearing the end of life, they go on vacation with the grandkids!

Alright, who's excited for this brand new year?! I am!! So we got the news of transfers Monday afternoon, went around town saying goodbye to everyone and early Tuesday morning, we went to transfers. I always felt like I would go to the coast at the end of my mission. We discovered that there was way more sisters going to the baixada than there was areas, so I also felt like I would open an area. I also felt really strongly that I would be companions with Sister M. Well Heavenly Father sure knows us, that's exactly what happened! Sister B finished training Sister M, so now we joke that she's hanging out with grandma ha ha. The drive to Santos was gorgeous, I didn't know that there was green here! Turns out Santos is actually an island? News to me. And it's hot! Our first lunch told us that it never rains in Santos, shortly after it started pouring rain for the next 4 days and at times we had water up to our knees! But when it's not raining, it's HOT. And it's all flat (no hills!) and LOTS of apartment buildings. Our area isn't too big. And the members are great! Everyone is super excited to have sisters :) And we're super excited to be here!

I feel like I have a lot of things to report and funny stories to tell, but it's been so long since I've had time to write in my journal, that I'm not remembering any! But overall, I feel completely renewed and excited and happy. I spent 5 months in Santo André and had a lot of success and learned a lot of lessons. And now I'm excited to put them all in practice. I'm excited to be myself and enjoy my time here and really make a difference. Sister M and I are so alike, it's creepy. She jokes that I'm just her imaginary friend that's all in her head. We are just absolutely loving our time together. One dangerous thing...we like to make cooking experiments. Needless to say, we made a running goal.

I really feel like Heavenly Father watches out for me, takes care of me, leads me, guides me, teaches me, chastens me, and above all else--blesses me. I'm so grateful for that. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to share His Gospel, (even if it is to a whole bunch of people with bikinis and surf boards;). But really, I couldn't be happier! Opening and area isn't easy, but I have the certainty that it's the Lord's will and the best thing for all of us. We're going to bring even more sunshine to sunny santos!