Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 44 Cidade Verde Natal, Brazil

Merry Christmas!

This week was great! Early in the week, we ate lunch with a woman named Vanúzia, who has the craziest story I´ve ever heard. She told us that she has two daughters that were born on the same day, one at 1 am and one at 1:15 am, but they´re not twins. Apparently, the people in the hospital messed up and sent her home with another person´s child, and the other woman home with her child. She only found out 8 years later! How crazy is that?! For those who have heard of the show Switched at Birth, it´s almost identical to her story.

We also got to eat at McDonald´s this week, which was the first time I´ve ate there in almost 10 months. McDonald´s here in Brazil is super expensive and therefore a lot more classy than it is in the US. I´ve never felt so fancy eating McDonald´s. :)

On Christmas Eve, we decided to go around visiting recent-converts and part-member families singing Christmas hymns, and it was way fun. We got invited to a fancy Christmas Eve dinner at President Soares´ counselor´s (who´s in our ward) home. 

Then, on Christmas, the best thing ever: I got to Skype my beautiful family! It was so wonderful to see their faces and hear their voices and laugh together. I´m so grateful for my family :)

I´m also very grateful for my Savior and for the Christmas season in which we celebrate His birth. I know He lives and loves us, and that through Him, we can find peace and joy even in hard times. 

The first picture is of me and my beautiful companion, then me with a super cute couple that Sister Nunes baptized with her first companion (Márcio and Michelle), then me and Sister Nunes with Sandra and her daughter-in-law Ítala, who we´re teaching. 




Week 43 Cidade Verde Natal, Brazil

Transfers

So, I got transferred this week. To Cidade Verde, which is in the south zone of Natal. Or in other words, the rich zone. Seriously, it´s another world here. A large part of our area is condominiums and apartment buildings that are really hard to get into, and in which we can´t even proselyte. So we have to rely a little bit more on references and help from members, but luckily, the ward here seems awesome. The ward attendance is about 200 people, which more than doubles any of the other wards I´ve already passed in, and the members are super great. We´ve already gotten a couple of Christmas presents. :) Plus, a lot of people here speak English, which means that my name isn´t so hard for them.

My companion is Sister Nunes. The other Sister Nunes (my filha is actually Sister G. Nunes, to distinguish the two of them). Sister Nunes is from São Paulo, she´s 19 years old, has 4 months on the mission, and her last companion was Sister Ochoa, who was also my companion. Cidade Verde is her first area, and this is her 4th transfer here, but luckily she loves it here so she´s not tired of the area yet. The only problem is that her only two companions until now were in their last or second to last transfers on the mission and weren´t exactly the most diligent, so it´s going to be a little bit different. But I hope that we have an awesome transfer. 



Us with Isaque



Pictures (I´m going to send more later when I switch to a computer that I can connect my camera to): the Brazil Natal mission. Good luck finding me (it´s like Where´s Waldo? with Sister Weatherford :)

 Our last district meeting

 Us with Lauane (I´m super nasty and sweaty in these pictures, sorry)

 The view of the chapel from my new home here in Cidade Verde


My new zone



Me and Sister Coelho on her last day

 Me and my companion and the elders in our ward with Santa Claus at the ward Christmas party
 Me, Carina, and Sister G. Nunes

 Us with Neto

Us on the way to the rodoviário (totally don´t even know that word in English)




Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 42 Santarém Natal, Brazil


This week was a week of miracles. And also probably the best week of my entire mission. It started off on Tuesday with our absolutely wonderful mission Christmas conference, which brought all of the 160 missionaries together. Not only was it super spiritual and uplifting, each zone of missionaries also performed a skit, all of which made jokes about the things all of us see so frequently here in the Brazil Natal mission. They were hilarious, and it was fun to laugh about the weird things here in the Northeast of Brazil :) I also got to see all of my old companions and friends that I´ve met here on the mission, and it was so great to be reunited with everybody. Three of my companions are going home this week (Sister Coelho, Sister Ochoa, and Sister Nóbrega). The mission conference was the best, and I felt so much love for my mission. Really, it was the best choice I´ve ever made in my life.

A small tender mercy that happened this week was when we were doing street contacts. We decided to talk with a young woman who walked past us, who told us that she had already been baptized but went inactive. We talked to her for a while and bore testimony about Jesus Christ, and she thanked us afterwards. She said it´s amazing how even in just a few short minutes, the Spirit can have such a strong influence, and told us that we were two angels that God put in her path. It was a really powerful experience and I´m grateful that we happened to pass by her on the street.

One of the other miracles from this week is that Jessica decided to get baptized. She had been living with her boyfriend, but out of nowhere, he got offered a job and had to move out, which meant she could get baptized as long as she promised to live the law of chastity, which she was willing to do. We scheduled her baptism for Saturday at 5 pm. On Saturday at 4:30, we found out that the baptismal font was dirty and empty. Crap. After a little bit of conflict with our ward mission leader, who wanted to cancel the baptism, we decided to take her to a chapel close by to do the baptism. Two members of the bishopric helped us with everything, and so did the missionaries in our district. One made a cake, one brought soda, and Neto gave us a ride there. I gained a testimony of service, because I was so grateful for everyone´s help. And the baptism was beautiful! Jessica thanked us for such a special day, and it really was. She is incredible, and we feel so lucky to have taught her and to have been able to see her baptism, which we didn´t think was going to be able to happen for a while.
Another miracle is that on Sunday, a sister in our ward brought her nonmember boyfriend, who she asked us to start teaching him, and a brother brought his nonmember girlfriend, who wants to get baptized on Christmas. We´re excited for all of the work that is going to get done here in this area, even if one of us gets transferred this week.
After church, we visited Carina to say goodbye to her (since we´re pretty sure at least one of us will get transferred). We had one of the most spiritual lessons I´ve ever had on my mission, then we took pictures and said our official goodbyes, just in case. She thanked us for everything we´ve done to help her and told us that we were really important in her life. She even cried and it was super sweet. (I´m going to send the pictures next week since I´m waiting for someone to email them to me). I love her and I can´t wait to get the news in the future that she got baptized and that got sealed in the temple to Edivaldo!
This week was truly miraculous. I don´t know if I´ll get transferred this week or not, but no matter what, I know that I will always love Santarém. It was my hardest area, but also by far the most rewarding. And I know that miraces are going to continue to happen here. I´m so grateful for everything the Lord has taught me through my experiences here, and for the abundant blessings He has given us here. Truly, being a missionary is the best. <3
Love,
Sister Amy Weatherford
Me, Sister Coelho (my "mom") and all of the people that she either started or finished the training of and the people that her "daughters" trained. In other words, our little mission family :)
Me and Sister Nóbrega

Me and Sister Thomson




Me and Sister Nunes
Me and Sister Ochoa
Me and Sister Nunes on the bus




 

Jessica's baptism






Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 41 Santarém Natal, Brazil

Dear family and friends,
This week, I celebrated my 9-month mission anniversary! I can´t believe I´m already halfway done! The time is seriously going by so fast, it almost scares me. I´m more grateful than I can express that I´m serving a mission, that I´m having this incredible experience. Through all of the hardships as well as the blessings and miracles, I have learned and grown a lot and strengthened my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior, which has been and will continue to be an amazing blessing in my life. <3 Missão Brasil Natal! <3

This week was good, but unfortunately my time is short today so I´m going to keep this email brief. We had stake conference on Sunday and our investigator, Jéssica, came and brought her boyfriend and nephew. She´s already a missionary and hasn´t even got baptized yet. :) And tomorrow is our mission´s Christmas conference, where all of the missionaries are going to meet together. It´s going to be awesome and I´m super stoked.
Also, the picture I´m attaching comes from a mission tradition of sisters taking fake "pregnancy pictures" when they complete 9 months on the mission. So here´s a picture of me, pregnant, and Sister Nunes :)

All of my love,
Sister Weatherford


Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 40 Santarém Natal, Brazil

This week was great. Several members, including our ward mission leader, went out with us to help us teach our investigators. Carina decided she wants to get baptized, but her husband (a less-active member who is coming back to activity) needs to get divorced from his first wife and they need to get married before she can get baptized. It´s been really rewarding to work with their family and help them get active in the church. We also got to do a service project, cleaning the house of a woman in the ward who is pregnant but can´t stay on her feet very long since her pregnancy is hazardous.
As for investigators, Rose didn´t go to church on Sunday. Again. But when we went by, Isaque came up to me and told me that they´re working on convincing her to let them get baptized. And before we left, Lauane begged us to read a scripture with her. Those two kids are angels. :) They also tickled us to death before we left, and Lauane pinned me down and put lip gloss on me. They´re really cute. Jessica went to church, finally, for the first time on Sunday! And we´re teaching a young woman named Janaina who is super smart and said she´s going to read the whole Book of Mormon. She couldn´t go on Sunday, but she´s progressing really well.
We also were immensely blessed on Sunday. On Saturday, literally no one we went to visit was home and we were super discouraged. The expectation in the mission is to have 3 investigators in sacrament meeting, and we thought we weren´t going to have any. We picked up Jessica on Sunday, who went, and then when we showed up in the chapel, to our surprise, Jadsom (the husband of a recent convert, Edineide) was there, along with two other non-members that their member friends had brought to the meeting. I felt so blessed and felt that the Lord had seen our effort on Saturday and did a miracle for us.
I have also never played so much piano as I played on Sunday. I accompanied the hymns in our ward, accompanied the hymns and the entire Primary program in the other ward, and accompanied the hymns for the other ward´s elders´ baptism. I loved it! I love playing piano and love being able to serve here in Brazil by playing. Our bishop came up to me and told me that I can stay 5 more transfers here if I want. :) Plus, the Primary program was beautiful. It´s already cute in the United States, and it was made even cuter by the little kids speaking Portuguese, which is still weird to me. I love the simplicity of the Primary music and the kids, yet the powerful testimony they bear of Jesus Christ.
And lastly, since Thanksgiving was this past week, I just want to share a few thoughts. I studied the story of the 10 lepers this week who were healed by Christ and only one of whom turned back to give thanks. Sometimes we forget to be thankful and our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. A Greek philosopher once said, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." President Monson taught that sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God´s love.
Even though this area has not been easy, I´m truly thankful to be here. I´m thankful for everything I´m learning, for the members here, for the experiences I´m having that are preparing me for the rest of my life. I´m immensely grateful for my family members, who mean everything to me. I´m grateful to be a missionary and I´m grateful for the gospel and the hope and peace it brings to my life. And above all, I´m grateful for my Savior. He truly is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. He gave His life to serve, to be our example, and to atone for us. As it says in the Living Christ, "God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine son." I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and got to reflect upon the abundant blessings in each of your lives.
All my love,
Sister Amy Weatherford







Week 39 Santarém Natal, Brazil

Dear loved ones,

It was another crazy but great week here in Santarém. On Monday, I taught Sister Nunes how to make chocolate chip cookies and we took them to Lauanda and her whole family. They ate literally all of them in five minutes. Brazilians love chocolate chip cookies, and they´re not common here. Lauane and Isaque also decided on Monday that they wanted to get baptized...but unfortunately, on Thursday, their mom, Rose, decided not to let them because they already got baptized in the Catholic church as babies. But Rose loves us and is going to let us teach her, so we´re hoping that we can help her change her mind. 

We had a district meeting on Tuesday with some snacks and herbal tea as refreshments, and Elder Church was joking around and speaking Portuguese with a British accent, which was the most hilarious thing. As I mentioned last week, our ward had a "noite de integração," which is basically just a ward activity, but with the idea of letting visitors get to "integrate" themselves with the ward members. We played a bunch of games and even had a trivia competition where the loser got whipped cream rubbed in their face. They made me and Sister Nunes compete against each other, and guess who got whipped cream in their face? Yours truly. It was a fun activity though. Two of our investigators went, Jessica and William, and several members brought friends. 

Sunday was great. Carina, her mom Eunice, and her sister-in-law Taise, all went to church, and so did Didi, Carina´s inactive member husband (who is Arthur´s dad). We rehearsed with the Primary, since I´m being their pianist (and loving it), and Lauanda went out visiting people with us afterwards. Lauane wrote me a super sweet note telling me that she loves me that absolutely made my week. 

We also got some valuable advice this week from one of the counselors in the bishopric here, Gislan. He served a mission and he reminded us not to worry so much about baptisms and numbers. He told us that our mission and the experiences we have are preparing us for the rest of our lives. He told us several stories from his mission, and his advice was what we needed to hear. 

I love this area and the incredibly special people here. :) 

Love,
Sister Amy Weatherford

Pictures:
The sisters in our district
Us with Jessica (investigator) and her cousin Jucielly (member)
Our district
Us with William
Me getting whipped cream shoved in my face by my loving companion
Me with my new friend, Sabrina, who is my fellow One Directioner! :)
Me with Lauane <3











Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 38 Santarém Natal, Brazil

I´ve given up on coming up with subjects. Please forgive my lack of creativity. This week was good and passed really fast. Last P-day, we went skirt shopping and the lady who worked in the store was really funny. She called us "galega" and "outra galega" (galega is what they call white people) and opened the doors of our changing stalls whenever she felt like it, which was nerve-wracking. But we each bought a couple of beautiful long skirts. :)

As for investigators...Júlio César loves the Book of Mormon. He said he feels a difference in his life when he reads regularly, and that he finds lots of strength in it. But...he doesn´t think he´s ready to get baptized. He´s really hesitant, and unfortunately, I think we´re going to have to back off a little and not visit quite as often. We´re still praying that he changes his mind, but for now, we can´t do much. He´s really funny, though. When we taught the Law of Chastity, he told us that his body was an amusement park (yeah, I know, disturbing) but that now it´s a temple. He said he´s going to turn into a monk. 

I don´t remember if I already mentioned William, a 38-year-old man, but he´s an awesome investigator. He´s super nice, super receptive, and we love teaching him. He´s going to go to our ward´s "noite de integração" (integration night...?) this week and is excited. Lauane and Isaque are still progressing, but they couldn´t go to church yesterday because their grandpa had died the day before and they weren´t home. Carina, Arthur´s stepmom, is also doing really well. She went to church yesterday for the first time and loved it. We´re really excited to keep working with her, and Arthur is really happy. His dad has been inactive for a while but still has a really strong testimony, and we´re hoping that he can start getting active and that Carina can get baptized. :)

This week, I got to talk to Sister Thomson on the phone. The funny coincidence is that she´s in Sousa, in my first area! So she´s meeting all of the wonderful people there that I love. And a tender mercy from this week is that the Primary president of the other ward asked me to be their accompanist for the Primary program, so I´m getting to practice the piano a lot and utilize the skill that my beautiful mother taught me. :) It´s also getting really hot here. Never in my life have I been as sweaty as I was on Sunday. It´s a really uncomfortable feeling. 

And on a spiritual note, I just wanted to share a couple of quotes that I love. President Uchtdorf said, "Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we´re on our knees but while we´re on our feet serving the Lord and those around us...By becoming the answer to someone´s prayer, we often find the answer to our own." And along with that, I heard another quote that says "Pray as if everything depended on the Lord, then work as if everything depended on you." I´m trying to apply that as a missionary by trusting in the Lord and also working with all of my strength so that His will can be manifest and accomplished. 

Com muito amor,
Sister Amy Weatherford

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Week 37 Santarém Natal, Brazil

Another Week


Some crazy things happened this week. First, I had my 8-month mission "birthday." I can´t even believe I´ve already been here 8 months. And second, we were in Neto´s house when a huge tarantula casually walked in. I went absolutely nuts, jumped up on the couch, and screamed. A lot. Neto wasn´t even scared; the only comment he made was complaining that I got his couch dirty with my shoes. For anyone who has watched She´s the Man, I basically relived the tarantula scene from that movie, but screamed about 1000 times more. Neto and Sister Nunes almost died laughing at me. :)
Other than those things, it was pretty much a normal week. It was a little bit harder than usual to find people at home and find new people to teach, but we also had lots of good things happen. Júlio César is still unsure about baptism, but he absolutely loves the Book of Mormon. He said that it´s helping him a lot to deal with what he´s going through. He also calls us his two angels and "semideuses," or half-gods. A man named Damião that we had left a Book of Mormon with but hadn´t returned to his house yet passed us on the street in a car, stopped, and told us that he´s been reading. It was a random surprise that made us really happy. It always makes me happy when our investigators read the Book of Mormon, since it´s such an important book to me and since it plays such a huge role in my own testimony. And one of our investigators, Grimoaldo, who always says that he´s going to go to church but never does (which is a normal problem here), actually showed up on Sunday, which also was a pleasant surprise. Some of our investigators are hiding from us and pretending not to be home, which is really discouraging and not great for the self-esteem, but we´re doing our best here and trying to find humor in those types of things so we don´t get discouraged. But everything is well here. We even started doing Zumba in the morning for exercise, and it´s fun. Sorry for this super random email and for not sending any pictures this week!
Love,
Sister Amy Weatherford

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Week 36 Santarém Natal, Brazil

We had another great week. This week was transfers (this one was only 5 weeks), but Sister Nunes and I stayed here in Santarém. Only two elders in our district were transferred, and our zone hardly changed at all. I´m super happy that we got to stay together in our area, since I really wanted to finish her training and keep working with the people we have here. We met another amazing investigator, Jessica, who is the aunt of a young woman, Juciele, who hasn´t been active in church for a while. We´re working with both of them and they are wonderful. We did a contact with two young men on the street who asked us so many questions that we ended up standing there talking to them for at least an hour. We returned and taught one of them, João Lucas, later in the week, and we´re going to keep working with him. We also started teaching a woman named Carla, who is addicted to drugs but is super receptive and wants our help. She has two daughters who we´re also teaching. We´re still teaching Lauane, Lauanda´s sweet 10-year-old sister, and Júlio, our golden investigator. We didn´t get to teach him at all this week since he was never at home when we went by. He recently got divorced and he´s keeping himself really busy so he won´t be as sad. But he did go to church on Sunday. :) 

I love this ward. This week, several members went out with us to help us teach, do contacts, pick up investigators for church, etc. The members here are absolutely wonderful and always willing to help, which means a lot to us. Now that I´m a missionary, I really want to be more helpful to the missionaries when I get home. :) 

Also, happy Halloween! It did not at all feel like Halloween. Brazil recognizes that October 31 is Halloween, but no one does anything. I hope everyone ate lots of candy :) Also, Halloween is supposed to be cold, but now that it´s turning into summer here, I literally feel like I´m going to melt every day. I can´t even express with words how hot it is here. And it´s just going to get worse! But I love being a missionary here. I love this gospel and I love my Savior. And I love all of you; thanks for your support!


Love,
Sister Amy Weatherford


Me and Sister Nunes with our favorite white chocolate (which we gained in a gift exchange with our district)


Me and my beautiful companion (with another picture in the background -- photoception!)

Me and the gorgeous Sister M. Baker :)

We did a gift exchange with our district, sort of a secret santa type thing :)