Monday, May 25, 2015

Week 13 Sousa, Brazil

Another great week in this beautiful country!

As I mentioned, transfers were this week, but Sister Coelho and I both remained here in Sousa, which means she´ll be the one to finish up my training. We decided that we´re going to go crazy this transfer (in a good way, of course) and we made some goals, like doing Zumba in the mornings, practicing more English (she´s learning), etc. I personally have the goal of being less embarrassed about the language and just speaking more and doing everything I can to learn Portuguese, which means I´m going to be annoying Sister Coelho with lots of questions :) Lots of people still compliment me, and our investigators Sorato and Ceissa even told me I´m already speaking better than a Brazilian, but lots of people also comment on my accent, and even though they think it´s pretty, I still feel self-conscious sometimes. 

I continue to love the food here. Here in the northeast part of Brazil, they have this food called tapioca, which is this white shell thing that you cook on the stove and fill with whatever you want. It´s heavenly filled with sweetened condensed milk, and I decided that the only thing I´m bringing home in my suitcases is tapioca :) 

I got to play the piano in church yesterday, which made me really happy. Normally, the piano they have plays the hymns automatically, but I guess it doesn´t have all of the hymns in its repertoire or whatever, so I got to play one. I also got asked to give a talk next week. Speaking Portuguese in front of a bunch of Brazilians? I thought giving a talk in English was hard. Wish me luck. :)

We continued working with Sebastião this week. He is wonderful and always reads the Book of Mormon passages we leave with him, but he´s pretty discouraged about his smoking addiction and really doesn´t believe that he can quit. We met a woman named Cilene who is absolutely wonderful and kept telling us that God sent us to her to help her. We met lots of other new people and continued working with many investigators this week. I wish I could tell you about each and every one of them, but this email would be even more ridiculously long. There´s always so much work to be done, it amazes me. 

This week, I had a pretty amazing experience. There was one night that we had a lesson with Sebastião followed by a lesson with Sorato and Ceissa. For some reason, all 3 of them chose that day to open up about all of their problems and hardships. I´m sure I didn´t understand the half of it and I was still overwhelmed. When we went home, I was thinking "I´m 19 years old. I´ve lived an easy life. I can´t help these people. What am I doing here?" and I felt God reminding me that I can´t help these people, but He can. During Sorato´s prayer with us, he asked for rain for the second time (I mentioned the first time in an email a couple of weeks ago). I remember noticing that there weren´t any clouds in the sky, yet a few minutes after we got home, it started to rain. I have no doubt that that rain was from God, not only to show Sorato that He answers prayers, but also to show Sister Coelho and I that He truly is with us and that this is His work, not ours. It was so comforting and I´ve never felt more certain that God is with me and that He hears and knows us. 

I hope you´re all doing well! Sending my love from Sousa!

Sister Amy Weatherford :)

One of the pictures is of a few elders in our district randomly posing (no, we didn´t ask them to) with their Books of Mormon, and one is of a bunch of cows being herded by an almost naked child, which is pretty much a normal sight here in Sousa.The rest of the pictures don´t really need an explanation.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 12 Sousa, Brazil

Transfers are this week, and I can´t believe I´ve already been in Brazil for an entire transfer. Time is already passing quickly! I´m anxious to find out whether Sister Coelho is going to continue to be my trainer or someone else will train me for my last 6 weeks. I´ll let you all know next week. 

We continued working with Sebastião this week, and he is making good progress on giving up smoking. This week, we taught him the commandments, and when we asked him if he remembered what they were, he said that one was to keep holy the Sabbath day and holidays. We laughed so hard and had to teach him that it´s really only the Sabbath day that we need to worry about :) We also met a woman named Vilani who invited us into her house and told us that it was an answer to prayer that we found her. She was baptized 15 years ago but hasn´t been able to attend in a really long time. She was so nice and it was a really cool experience to talk with her. We taught a family yesterday, a mom, dad, and two children, and it was also a really great experience. Here in Sousa, there are usually tons of people coming and going as you teach and it´s rare to have a quiet, calm lesson, but our lesson with them was calm and the Spirit was strong.

One day, we were visiting a recent convert, Cilene, and she went into the kitchen to make us herbal tea, but before she left, she turned on the movie Breaking Dawn from the Twilight series. Sister Coelho and I were covering our faces with the Book of Mormon and trying to stay focused on missionary work :) The people here are really funny. I was giving a prayer during a lesson with Cicera, another investigator, and in the middle of the prayer, she commanded me to pray for her kids. I was so surprised about being interrupted while praying that I was tripping over my words for the rest of the prayer. People here interrupt each other and talk over each other a lot. Basically, if someone´s talking and they go to take a breath of air, someone else is going to start talking. 

This week, we also did companion exchanges for one day. I was with Sister Garcia in her area, so I got to meet some new people and it was really fun. We had a miracle, because we talked with the usually unreceptive mother of a young boy who wants to be baptized and she agreed to let him make the choice for himself. It was a good experience to see new methods and ways to do missionary work.

I´ve been seeing miracles with the language this week too. On several occasions, I have opened my mouth to say something that I hadn´t planned to say. I´m also understanding more and more, and especially understanding the things that I need to. I might not understand everything people say, but in general, I´m able to understand the most important parts so that I can understand the needs of the people we teach. I know that God is helping me with this language and I´m really grateful. 

I felt a great love for missionary work this week, especially after our district meeting. Missionary work is really hard, but it´s such a great experience. I´m excited for the things I´m going to continue learning and I´m grateful to be here. And most of all, I´m grateful for your support!

Sister Weatherford

The picture is of Sister Coelho and I with two of the young men in our branch on Sunday after district conference (a district is like a baby stake :). Please excuse the sweaty face.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 11 Sousa, Brazil

It was a great week! Every week, I grow to love this place and these people more. I continue to learn a lot every day, and I´m grateful to be here. This week, I got to try a Brazilian hot dog, which is completely different than an American hot dog. They take a normal hot dog and pile on sausage, corn, mayonnaise, and eggs. Yes, small hard-boiled eggs. It was very strange. One of our investigators asked us if we wanted hot dogs, we said no, and he said "I´m going to go buy some hot dogs" and walked away, so we didn´t really have a choice. It was pretty good though :) The investigator is named Sorato, and he has a lot of doubts and is trying to find answers to his prayers. We had a really cool experience with him this week, because after our lesson with him, he gave the closing prayer and asked for rain. When Sister Coelho and I walked outside, it was raining. I truly believe it was an answer to Sorato´s prayer, to show him that God really does hear him and answer him. 

Also this week, Sister Coelho and I got wolf whistled at by both a parrot and a human all in the same day. We helped a member family move to a new house and they rewarded us with delicious ice cream. We taught a lady named Fabiola who literally called her pastor while we were teaching her, and then told us all of the things he said about our church, most of which weren´t even true. It was totally ridiculous. We had a zone meeting and I got to meet lots of new missionaries who are in interior areas near Sousa. We had a family home evening night with lots of recent converts, and it was really great. At our zone meeting, we talked about working more with recent converts and getting references from them, so we´re working on that. We also had a branch activity that was a dessert contest, and one of our investigators, Cicera, pleasantly surprised us by coming to the activity. It also poured rain once this past week, and Sister Coelho and I went outside and got completely soaked just for fun. I absolutely love rain and it was a tender mercy. 

Despite all of the great things that happened this week, I have to admit that the highlight by far was yesterday. I got to Skype with three of my very favorite people on planet Earth (Mom, Dad, and Josh) and it was such a blessing. I can´t wait to see their faces and hear their voices again on Christmas!

This week, both as a result of Sorato´s prayer for rain and the blessings and answers I´ve received to my prayers, I want to bear testimony that God truly does hear our prayers. I know He loves us so much and He always answers us. He never leaves us alone. I also know that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that He blesses us abundantly when we put our trust in Him. I am grateful to be a missionary and to help other people strengthen their relationship with God and receive and recognize more of His blessings in their lives. 

I love you all!
Sister Weatherford

The pictures are of Skype yesterday, a gigantic pig that was eating trash on the side of the road that Elder Borba (my district leader) tried to give a Book of Mormon to, and the parrot who wolf whistled at us (I know the picture is blurry, but I wanted to show how cool it is to be in a place where parrots just hang out on chairs outside people´s houses :) Also, a couple of old selfies that I didn´t send earlier, me and Sister Coelho and the other sisters, and Kelinha´s baptism.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Week 10 Sousa, Brazil

Dear family and friends,

This week was really good. The language is getting easier (slowly) and I´m adjusting to being here and feeling more comfortable and at home. I´ve never been stared at so much in my entire life as I have been here in Brazil though. I look really different and people are not very subtle. I´ve been told on multiple occasions that I look like Barbie, which I really don´t, other than the fact that we´re both white. My eyes also get complimented a lot since everyone else here has brown eyes. 

Anyway, this week, a 12-year-old girl that we´ve been teaching got baptized. Her name is Kelinha and she is wonderful. Her mom got baptized a couple of weeks ago. We´re going to help her start the Personal Progress program and get integrated in the Young Women´s program here. I´m excited for her. We´re also teaching a man named Sebastião that smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day, but he is making great progress on quitting. He came to church on Sunday and was really happy. He´s great and I love teaching him. We taught many other people during the week too, but those are the two I wanted to highlight in particular. 

We have to do 20 contacts per day, and sometimes it gets a little repetitive and tiring, so Sister Coelho and I decided to spice things up by talking to people who were in cars stopped at a stoplight. It was fun because we had to talk really fast. Also, sometimes missionaries give each other dares for words they have to use during a contact, like "McDonald´s" or "armpit" and it makes it really fun, though it´s hard to stay serious. :) One of the elders in my district speaks English, so he practices with me sometimes and it´s always a nice mental break from Portuguese. The elders in my district also like to say things that sound really close to bad words in English just to freak me out.

This week, there was a shift where the language became noticeably easier. It´s still super difficult, but I feel like I started understanding a lot more this week. It was definitely a blessing and an answer to prayers. 

Also, this is random but people here (especially missionaries) love this dessert called açai. It is a fruit that´s mashed up and served frozen, and to me, it tastes like dirt. I really don´t like it, and it´s unfortunate since all of the other missionaries are addicted to it. Everyone promises me that I will grow to love it too, but I have my doubts. 

This week, I realized that every time I´m unhappy, it´s because I´m being selfish and thinking of myself. So my new goal is to try to forget myself and to focus on other people. During devotionals at the MTC, everyone emphasized that the time you are truly happy as a missionary is when you learn to love the people more than yourself, and I know that´s true. When I stop thinking about myself, I am always happier. I´m representing my Savior, who was the most selfless person and perfect example, and I want to become more like Him. 

I love you all and hope you have a great week! Sorry I don´t have pictures this week. I really am a slacker. Sister Coelho has the pictures of us with Kelinha at her baptism, and she´s going to send those to me soon, so stay tuned :)

Sister Weatherford

Friday, May 1, 2015

Week 9 Sousa, Brazil

Dear family and friends,

Well, it´s been another crazy but good week. I´m still adjusting to the newness of everything and the language is still as hard as ever, but I´m doing well. The food here is still fantastic. Lots of rice and beans and chicken, which I love, plus Sister Coelho and I made this delicious chocolate dessert called brigadeiro and I am in love with it. We eat lunch every day with a member of the church and it´s really good. We also bought bacon-wrapped chicken on a stick one night. Yep, amazing. Also, this week, a little kid asked me why I´m so white, which is something I am constantly reminded of. Sister Coelho always points out how enamored people am with how different (aka white) I am, which is amusing.  

We found some new investigators this week and we even met a lady who has already read the entire Book of Mormon. She´s awesome. We taught her a lesson and asked her if she would pray about it to know if it was true, and she said she already felt that it was. People here are very kind and receptive. They´re not always as good at following through with commitments or coming to church, but we rarely have someone who won´t at least hear us out. The church branches here aren´t super strongly established, so we´re trying to work with the branch president to fix some things and create more unity. 

I love having so much time to study every day. This week, I´ve been studying the Christlike attribute of patience. I´ve read a lot of scriptures about how trials bring patience, and I´ve been trying to remember that even when I get discouraged about the language or something else. I also love studying from the Book of Mormon and getting to carry one around in my hand every day. I love giving them out to people and bearing testimony of them, since that book is the reason I´m here in Brazil. The Book of Mormon is the reason I have a testimony of this gospel and I´m so grateful for it. 

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I have definitely felt it and it has helped me more than I can express. I love you all!

Sister Weatherford

The pictures are of me and Sister Coelho, me, Sister Coelho, and the two other sisters who share our apartment, views of Brazil from our apartment, and our apartment.