Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Week 59: Kanooch

Our group leader, Irmão Machado, pronounces Knutti like that--kanooch. He totally leaves off the "i"! So Elder MacJanet, the one who just got transferred here (who I've known for a long time now) calls me that constantly. He thinks it's hilarious. He'll just say "Are you going to have some rice, Kanooch?" Just like that. 

Anyways! What another crazy missionary week. I think that doesn't really change. It's always crazy. When is missionary work NOT crazy? 

Actually, I feel like we haven't seen most of our investigators this week. Funny, because last week during weekly planning we really wanted to make sure we saw everyone on our list. Oh well, it happens. 

But guess what?? We set a baptismal date with Maria, Walter, and Paulinho Silveira!! (family of our recent converts, Anselmo and Clarice) They will be baptized on September 12th, then they will be able to come to church the next day to be confirmed. It should work perfectly with Maria's work situation, but definitely please pray for her that things will work out and she will be able to go to church enough. They are an amazing family. Maria is so excited to be baptized, and she loves, absolutely loves, every lesson that we teach. This week we actually managed to teach her all of the Plan of Salvation in one lesson! In Kriolo! I don't know how that happened, but it probably helped that she kind of already had the right ideas about what happens to us after we die. The elders taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ too, and we helped explain more about baptism. On Saturday, we had our exciting church lesson with Walter and Paulinho! We talked about why we got to church, what we do there, and why we need to wear nice clothes and be reverent. That is the day when we gave the boys their clothes :) They were so happy!! Thank you again mom! Walter's were a little too small, so we're going to try to see if we can exchange them for a bigger size today. Hopefully we can so we can give them to him this week. Paulinho's worked great though. Keila and Nataviah weren't there, but we tried to wait until we taught the lesson before we gave them the clothes. Except Maria took the clothes from us and didn't give them back haha. But that's ok, we asked her to not give them to them yet, but to wait until we taught the lesson about church to them too. 

Otherwise, we did a whole lot of other things that I can't remember very clearly. We weekly planned and did digital mission... Mars, our baptismal date, doesn't like going to church. He thinks it's boring. Because they speak Chinese there. Apparently he doesn't like talking to people, unless it's in English. Too bad he lives in Taiwan, haha.... we tried to help him understand the importance of church this week and we gave him an assignment to think of questions and pray about them and to receive answers to them at church this week. Except he didn't go to church and he isn't answering us or the phone calls of the sisters who work with him there. Oh well, we'll keep trying. He's an interesting guy, but I'm sure he'll figure it out one day. 

On Wednesday we had a dinner with this family who has been visiting from Utah! They are so great. They had us, the Portuguese elders and the English sisters over, which we don't normally do, but they were visiting and rarely have missionaries over while in Utah, so we allowed it. It was so so so fun. We would love to keep them here for our group! Too bad they like living in Utah. Come on, who doesn't want to move to Rhode Island? It's a state with 2 names!!


We also had the opportunity to talk with David Lopes, the man who was baptized last week, about the temple, and he is super pumped to go on September 7th. He's got his parents' names to do and everything! He just got called to be the group Sunday School President too, and I think he was ordained to be a priest on Sunday. He was sustained at least. The Lord definitely has some plans in mind for this little Portuguese group of ours, because we keep teaching these solid men! It's awesome. We are getting closer and closer to our very own branch. How exciting is that??

Yesterday we had this family home evening activity with a bunch of members from our group, and the most important thing for you to know about that is we ate a lot of food and they had pastels (my favorite are the Cape Verdean kind with tuna :) ) and I learned how you make passionfruit mousse. That is so important, I promise you.

And those are really the highlights! Brianna was in Brockton all week, we think, but we did get to see her briefly on Saturday. She seemed so happy. I think it is because her mom and sisters were there (so we got to meet them, which was nice). But we didn't get to teach her because she and all the rest of the world went to this party they had in a park on Sunday. Way to keep the Sabbath right after we taught it, boys. Hahaha oh well! They just aren't used to living that way yet. Change takes time. 

One last thing I want to share. This was so cool.
So yesterday before church, Brother Machado was talking to these 2 ladies who just walked in, and he called us over. We went over and met them--the older one, the mom, said she had just come to America from Cape Verde literally 3 days ago, and she is a really active member of the church! Haha I could see the edge of her garment top and she showed us her temple recommend. She and her daughter, who was the other lady, told us that even though her daughter is not a member, her mom kept bothering her until she found the closest church to where her daughter lives. So the nonmember daughter went and looked online for the church. She found the Central Falls building and the English ward we have here. She told her mom that it would be in English, so she wouldn't understand anything. Her mom said "no, it doesn't matter. I just need to go to church." 


When she got to the church building (like 30 minutes before church starts, that's really impressive for a Cape Verdean lady), they found out that, hey, we have a Portuguese-speaking group that meets here! Her daughter couldn't stay for church this time, but the mom will stay here in America with this daughter for 3 months, and the daughter totally might come to church next week. They were so happy to find that it was a Portuguese group. :)

So let's give a big old shoutout to Odette Silva! The faith that some of these people have is so admirable. I wish my faith was as strong as theirs sometimes. I'm getting there though. 

Lately I've been reading the story of Abinadi, and it is just so cool. Abinadi is an amazing example, and the things he teaches are so good for us to learn!! One thing that I learned and thought about this time around was that he talks about how the Law of Moses doesn't bring salvation. He also explains that the Jews were given the Law of Moses because they were not being obedient enough--funny how when we are disobedient, we are given more rules to follow. I heard once that after President Hinckley said that thing were we should only have one piercing in each ear, a man commented to him how good it was that people know that now and have that rule to follow. President Hinckley replied that is was actually a pretty bad thing that the Lord had to give us this rule and specify that. He said that if everyone were being obedient enough and receiving enough revelation, everyone would have figured that out before, and there would be no need for a rule.

I don't have a source for that, so I don't know 100% for sure if that's what he said, but I've been just thinking about that. Sometimes here on the mission we are told to "live a higher level of obedience". That means to not just follow the rule because we have to. It doesn't mean living the bare minimum of the rule. It means to live a higher standard, be even more obedient than you "really have to". One example of this is Sister Roman. She told me that her personal Word of Wisdom includes not eating chocolate and not drinking any kind of tea. That is her personal choice, of course, but it shows that she prayerfully considered how the Lord wanted her to live that specific commandment. She is literally crazy about chocolate, so she decided she just should cut it out all together. 

So I would encourage all of you, in whatever you are doing, to live a higher level of obedience. To the commandments, to the mission rules, to your parents' rules, to the honor code of BYU, whatever. Don't just barely follow the rules. Pray about them and gain a testimony of commandments and rules, and decide to live the spirit of the law and not just the letter of the law.

It's a good thing for me to think about too :)

I love you all! I hope you have a fantastic week. Have fun at the beach, I guess that's cool... good thing you know about that, because now when I come home we can have cool vacations there during the summer. WIN! Don't get too sunburned, though. That's not so fun.

did Spencer get his postcard? I sent one early last week...

Y'all are the best friends and family I ever had.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 58: Get 'Em Wet

Hellooooooooooooooooooo family! And friends! We had a lovely week this week. Let me tell you why.......

Tuesday we had Kambry with us for a good part of the day! Kambry is the step-daughter of the high councilor, Irmão Dias, who is over the Portuguese group. She is really nice and we had a good time, even though pretty much all we did was go to support Antonia (LA) at her naturalization test. Good stuff though! Now I know all about America, let me tell you. Sister Couto does too.

We did get to Skype with our investigator in Taiwan, Mars! I don't think I've told you about him. He is so cool. And he has a baptismal date!!! He is set to be baptized on August 29th, and it is so especially amazing how the gospel and Spirit can touch the lives of anyone you talk with, even if it is through the computer. We are trying to work with the sisters there in Taiwan as they teach him. He has been having some doubts about giving up coffee and tea, but when we Skyped him, at the end he said that he would try to stop drinking them. Kambry was great in the lesson! So pray for Mars. :)

That night we went to visit Brianna again. It was a lesson fueled by the Spirit if I've ever seen one. We went in and started talking to her, and she really opened up to us about the things she is struggling with in her life. We talked about the lesson afterwards, and found out that we had both been receiving the same promptings the whole time. So we shared with her Alma 7:11-12 and had her look for the word "sin". Try it. We talked more about the Atonement and ultimately how we access the Atonement more and more as we make covenants with God and grow closer to him. So we invited her to pick a day to be baptized, and she chose September 16th!! It's a Wednesday, but if your investigator picks it, it's their day. Sister Couto and I are so very aware of the long road Brianna has in front of her on her way to baptism, so please please pray for her. Pray that she can get out of her situation and be courageous enough to make the changes she wants in her life. Also, please pray for her little sister, who is 4 and is having heart problems. And her mom who has cancer.

We taught Brianna last night, on Sunday, too. We were able to bring the YW president, sister Piscienski, who is AMAZING. She has gone through some of the exact same things Brianna is going through right now, and she helped so much. She will be a great encouragement to her. She invited her to church like 10 times! Brianna wants to go so badly. So pray that she can do that :) Her situation is very difficult and very sensitive, but she has the desire to change her life. The gospel can truly do that.

I might have said this before, but with Brianna, it is very visible when we teach her that the gospel truly brings us happiness. Almost every single time we go to teach her, she is having a bad day and doesn't really want to talk with us. She usually has headaches and things too. But she still listens and talks with us. Then you can see how through the lesson, her countenance changes and she starts to sit up straighter and smile and laugh. She is so pretty when she smiles, and it is literally a miracle every single time to see the gospel change her mood. MIRACLES ARE REAL!

I just love Brianna so much.

Other than that this week, we also painted a shed, tried to teach Ana Goncalves (it was a very difficult lesson... crazy kids are hard to deal with...) about prayer again, had dinner with the Frandsens (sister Frandsen is from McAllen, Texas! she wants me to keep her updated on where Jared is :) She's great. She says her mom will feed you and take good care of you) and talked about helping in Primary, got a new investigator and so much more!

Our new investigator is Ana, (again) the friend of our favorite Nair. (Na-eer) She has been reading the Book of Mormon. She is also in a difficult situation and is very quiet, but she has been liking the lessons so far. Clarice went to help us teach the Restoration with her too :)

We taught David Lopes a little bit more to prepare him for his baptism! And he passed his interview and everything to be baptized on Sunday!! It was a great baptism. Even though he just left, Elder Friebe came back from Brockton for the baptism, and we also had an investigating family there!! David bore his testimony at the end, and it was so perfect for Zito and Filomena and their daughters. So great. David is going to be a really really good, strong member! Wahoo!

Also, Saturday we went to the temple with Anselmo and Clarice so they could do baptisms for the dead. Wow, it was an awesome day, even though we stayed at the temple wayyyyyy longer than we planned (members that came with us wanted to do sealings AND a session....). But really, when is it a problem to stay all day in the temple? Anselmo was baptized for his grandpa, and Clarice for her grandma. It was really special. :) Afterwards, we went to Cambridge and ate some exquisitely delicious Brazilian food, because when in Cambridge... do as Elder Araujo would do! He used to serve there.

Hahaha sorry this email was so scatterbrained! We didn't have tons and tons of lessons, but we did have just some great days. Sundays are literally always so crazy. A new problem always pops up each week, but that's just how it goes.

I love you all! Have a great week. Enjoy summer. Do what the Lord wants you do to!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Week 57: Fufunana

To begin, I want to remind you all of the holiday today: Victory Over Japan Day. It's a real holiday, I swear! All of the libraries are closed because of it. Hahahah but only Rhode Island still celebrates it. Good ole Rhode Island.

This past week was crazy. Thursday we had interviews with President Miller, which was actually really great! President said that our area (Central Falls) is probably one of the best ones ever, right? and I said "right." And he said that if he were a full-time proselyting missionary like us, he would want to serve here. You know that's right! He also just talked with me for a few minutes and asked if I was happy. And I can honestly truly say that I am. I love this place and these people, and I feel like I am still learning a lot. I have a ways to go still though!
The Zone Leaders gave us trainings about making goals and getting investigators to pray, and we've since tried to implement the prayer training, but it has been much, much harder to get some people to pray than we thought it would be. Ana Goncalves is a tough cookie sometimes. 

Friday we had Zone Meeting! We talked about how to put the things we've learned over the past few weeks all together, and I liked how people have been saying this weekend (they also mentioned this in ward council on Sunday) that "The Spirit is in the details". Some things may seem little, but they can be some of the most important. Also, you should know that they had us close our eyes and imagine we were in our favorite restaurant with our favorite people. So get ready to go back to Sweetwater at least once when I get home!!

Saturday. Let me tell you about Saturday

First of all, we started off with our weekly ultimate frisbee game. Always lovely. And then due to trying to save miles and complicated missionary plans, we switched around some cars and ultimately ended up driving home to a locked apartment... with one key locked inside and the other key with the elders 20 minutes and 6 miles away. I remembered that our sliding door to the little porch in the back was definitely unlocked (sometimes I put my stinky shoes there to air out :) ).

So naturally, I decided to climb up to the second-floor balcony of our apartment to let the rest of the sisters in.  I'm attaching some pictures for proof. As I looked up at our balcony, I remembered all those times that Dad and I played Tomb Raider, and I tried to internalize everything I learned from those experiences as I climbed up using the 1st floor balcony, some air vent thing, and our balcony. This successfully landed high on my list of the crazy things I've done on my mission.

I guess I should also point out that all of the other 3 sisters helped me up haha I don't have the arm strength or courage to go up all by myself. I'll work on being Lara Croft, but I need to work my arms more... maybe I'll get swole or something too, right Jared?

That was before 8am. We showered and ran (drove) to the church for a baptism of the English sisters', which went well! EXCEPT. Transfer texts literally started coming in right as the baptism started, so all of us (for some reason we had all 8 Central Falls missionaries plus the 2 PVC sisters there) started to go crazy and we had to turn off our phones and pay attention. So we did! A lesson in patience. 

When the baptism finished, we all gathered in a room and read the t-texts out loud. My past companion, Sister Cruz, is now a PVC sister, so she was there and filmed the whole thing haha. I haven't seen that video yet... anyways! Elder Cagle is getting transferred and becoming a Zone Leader (at only 8 months. Crazy.) and Elder Friebe is getting transferred BACK TO BROCKTON! They should make a movie with that name or something. It's very catchy. He'll be district leader there, if you're interested to know. Other than that, no one else is moving!! That means I get to stay with Sister Couto for another transfer :) And Sister Watts and Field, they are awesome and I love having them as my roommates. Elder Montes will train, and Elder MacJanet (who was in Brockton when I was "born" and who was my ZL while I was on Martha's Vineyard) will be the new Portuguese elder. It will be interesting because we'll have an elder just starting his mission, an elder just about to finish his mission, and a whole bunch of us in between. It'll be a good transfer. 

Haha sorry, I probably give more info than you need or want about transfers, but that's all we talk about. Transfers are life. That's all the drama we get on a regular basis. 

The rest of Saturday was spent preparing for our Noite Cabo-Verdiana Brasileira Portuguesa! It really took all day to get ready. But boy, it looked good. I also tried to start writing my talk for Sunday, but I ended up talking with Sister Cruz instead :) (her mom is doing great! She's the one whose mom had a stroke while I was her companion. Her sister just had a baby, and Sister Cruz loves being the Portable Visitor's Center Sister.) It was good to catch up with her. 

That night was our party!! We had a lot of people and a lot of food. Sister Couto and Walter took a lot of pictures, so I only put some up on dropbox. President and Sister Miller even showed up to the party! They danced a little bit too, much to the enjoyment of their 7-year-old daughter and all the missionaries :) It was a very successful party! 

Sunday was crazy. This week was crazy. We taught people and did missionary work and things, but it will be nice to have this new week to kind of refocus ourselves and make some goals when Elder MacJanet gets here for our area. We've been feeling lately like we've been missing something in our work, so we are going to try to figure out what we can do better. So, the work moves on!

This morning I was studying about covenants and the Atonement, and I think I realized that as we make covenants and perform ordinances, we have more and more access to the Atonement. Just something to think about. Also, if you want something else to study, try studying about the "name" King Benjamin talks about between Mosiah 1-5. It's pretty cool!!

I love you all and hope you have a great week! As Mom and Dad know, I figured out how to make nutella brigadeiro, so I'm set for life, and I don't need to learn anything else. ;)

Sister Couto's mom called this one "a cara de riqueza" which means "the face of wealth"

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 56: Time is Running Out

We should get news of transfers the end of this week. I only have 3 more transfers left, which is about 4 1/2 months. What?
Every time that I remember how short my time is left on my mission, I freak out a little and forget about it so I can go back to work! So we'll forget that for now and get back to work.
This week!
We had a really successful week, actually! We were really productive. We had 25 lessons! That's a ton! 6 with a member present to investigators, 9 other lessons (to investigators without a member present), 4 lessons to members, plus 6 digital (skype) lessons. I know that numbers really aren't important, but I think it just shows that the Lord blessed us with a lot of work this week! Whew!
What to tell you all about. I have to write a lot faster than I have been going so far. Well, we'll do the days:
Monday we taught Brianna! We started the Plan of Salvation, and I think it is answering a lot of her questions about life. She is an amazing person, and I KNOW the gospel is just what she needs and wants. We also visited Lo Moreira, a potential we've kind of been stalking for a few weeks. She's great! Catholic. But she seems truly curious, and we think that she would be a great investigator.
Tuesday we taught Walter the rest of the Restoration. We helped Antonia study for her naturalization test (again). I am learning a lot of things about America that even I didn't know. For instance, the governors of New Hampshire and Vermont are only elected for 2 years, whereas for all other states, it's a term of 4 years. The more you know. We also visited Zito and Filomena, some AWESOME investigators! We taught them the Restoration with Domingas, who is the most solid member we have here I think. She's awesome. The Spirit was so strong in that lesson, and I feel like I had never taught the Restoration like I did that day. I think that means it was all the Spirit. I hope so.
Wednesday I had exchanges! Sister Lira came with me to Paw-tuck-eh-tee. It was kind of a weird day and we only really taught Clarice and Maria. Good stuff though. We also ate at Rosa's Kitchen for dinner (a Cape Verdean restaurant), which is always yummy. During the morning we scraped paint off the Bishop's shed for a few hours, which is strangely relaxing. Also, Sister Wild (Bishop's wife) is really cool, so it was fun to talk with her for a while.
Wednesday was also Sister Field's birthday!! So we threw her a little surprise party with balloons and brownies. I have to get the pictures to you later, we gave our car to the elders for the day but forgot the camera there. Anyways, it was awesome.
Thursday we had some great lessons on the digital mission! We pass people off to local missionaries like crazy, which is so fun. We called sisters in Brazil to give an investigator, and they were like WHAT NO WAY THAT IS SO COOL!! when we explained the digital mission. We also weekly planned for forever and ate a lot of food. That night we drove down to Providence to try to see a LA Portuguese family, but instead we saw Inussa and Carmen! They are awesome. That wedding we went to last Saturday was where we met them. Inussa is a (less-active) member of about 13 years, and he has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. He also pretty much taught the whole Restoration after I asked him what he remembered about the book of Mormon, hahaha. Carmen is great; she met with the elders in Florida before and is so excited to learn more! she already has a testimony! They are awesome. they are also from Guine Bisseau, a country in Africa where they speak Portuguese. The more you know. Please pray that Inussa can get work off on Sundays so they can all come to church. They would be such a fantastic addition to our group!!
Friday was the most productive day I think I've ever had. We visited Yara & Viviane, Brianna again, David Lopes (who will be baptized on August 16th!! He's so cool), Amelia (an awesome potential interested in the BoM), and Filomena. Plus district meeting. I think one of my favorite parts of the day was when David started talking to us about how he believes God has this plan for our salvation, and we were like "wait" and grabbed a Plan of Salvation pamphlet from the car to show him. He was like "No. Way!" And we were like "way." That was the lesson we had planned to teach him! Haha the Spirit is so great.
Saturday we had a sweet game of frisbee in the morning, then we helped a family start to move, and we went to a Churrasco at the Machados' house again! Brazilian food is so delicious. So. Delicious. There were some other members there too, so it was nice to get to know them better. That night we did a lot of computer work that needed to be done and we helped Antonia study again. She'll pass, I know it!
Sunday (whew, maybe this wasn't short haha sorry) was church! That morning we were asked by Sister Wild to teach Gospel Doctrine, so we were like "uh okay". After we took the sacrament, we went to prepare our lesson on Acts 1-5. When we went to give it, it went surprisingly very well! Heavenly Father helped us out a lot. We only got through Acts 1 & 2 though haha. We also sat with Walter in Primary, which reminded me how awesome Primary is. Later we taught a couple of lessons, including one to Ana Goncalves! I love her! She remembers a lot about repentance, and we can tell that she truly is growing a desire to be baptized. She's awesome.
Here's one thought I got from when we taught Gospel Doctrine: Now that we have experienced what the gospel is like, we need to turn around and share it with others. Even though we were not with Christ while He was on earth, and we did not see God and Jesus Christ with Joseph Smith, we still have had our own experiences, and because of those things, we know that this gospel is true. Think of it like a delicious plate of food--if I tell you it's super delicious, how will you know? You need to try it. Try the gospel, read the Book of Mormon. Get baptized. Once you do, you will have a desire not only to have more and more, but you will also feel the desire to share with others!
I loved that. "You have had your own experiences with the gospel".
And that's all folks! This Saturday we will have a "NOITE BRASILEIRA CABO-VERDIANA PORTUGUESA" activity, so I think we will prepare all week for it. We want all of Pawtucket to come and dance and eat and give the missionaries the leftovers.
I love you all! I love the Lord! I love missionary work.
Stay faithful, my friends.