Sunday, September 27, 2015

Preview: Amy's New Zone

Well, here is a photo of Amy with a new companion.  We are excited for tomorrow's letter!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Photos from the beautiful Natal shore

Hello! This is Mom. I copied these photos from Sister Megan Baker. They capture the beauty of Natal and, even more so, the beauty of the sisters who are serving there. Enjoy!

Mission President: Sister Soares
Sister Baker and Sister Silva
Sister Atunes and Sister Pereira
Sister Nóbrega and Sister Weatherford

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 30 Gramoré Natal, Brazil

Another week in Gramoré I don´t have too much to say this week, since it was pretty much normal. We´re still having a hard time finding people at home and some of the addresses we went to find (from people who had given us their address last week) didn´t even exist, which can be discouraging, but we definitely had some tender mercies this week. Luciana is progressing reallly well. We taught her about the Restoration of the gospel, and she gave the cutest prayer afterwards. She thanked God for our wonderful visits and told Heavenly Father that she really wanted to visit His house on Sunday. Unfortunately, she didn´t come to church, so we´re going to see what happened. We have another investigator named Daniel who we´d been teaching for a while but had never gone to church, so we went by on Saturday night and told him that since he´s not going to progress until he goes to church, we weren´t going to visit him anymore until he went. Then he surprised us by showing up on Sunday! The ultimatum worked ;) Another of our investigators, the 12-year-old young man named Ismael, also visited for the first time on Sunday. He´s part of the rastafari religion, which I didn´t even know was a religion, but he liked church on Sunday and is reading the Book of Mormon. And Maycon and Maria José went to church too. When Maycon found out that there´s going to be a transfer this week and we might leave, he started praying and asking Heavenly Father to let us stay here. During sacrament meeting, he asked Sister Nóbrega to write our names on a piece of paper and then he drew a heart around them. He is the cutest thing :) That´s pretty much all the news I have from the week, and I didn´t even take any pictures. Even though it´s been discouraging at times, I´m grateful to be here in Gramoré. I´m learning patience, and I always take comfort in the fact that my Savior went through much harder things and that missionary work never was easy, not even for Him. I´ll let everyone know what happens with transfers! Love, Sister Amy Weatherford

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 29 Gramoré Natal, Brazil

My life in Natal

So, last P-day, Sister Nóbrega and I walked to some sand dunes that are close to our area and walked around on them looking at the beautiful view. Then last night, Sister Soares called us with the news that she and us and 2 other sets of sisters were going to spend P-day together. And guess where we went? To the sand dunes. But we went on a different side and actually got to see the gorgeous beach here. And she even let us dip our feet and walk around in the water. It was the coolest P-day ever. :)

This week was a little discouraging in some ways, since Andreza told us she doesn´t want to get baptized because her whole family is Catholic and because she doesn´t want to give up drinking at parties, and her brother Pedro is pretty much avoiding us. It´s really heartbreaking when investigators that you care a lot about and had so much hope for decide to stop investigating, but it´s part of mission life. And we did find some wonderful new ladies to teach, Zenaide and Luciana, that we´re excited to keep working with, along with some other new people. Maycon, the 8-year-old son of our investigator Maria José (who wants to get baptized but the man she´s lived with for 18 years doesn´t want to get officially married), decided this week that he wanted to get baptized, and was going to get baptized on Saturday, but his dad didn´t let authorize the baptism yet. We´re going to talk to him this week and we´re really hoping he´ll let Maycon get baptized on Sunday

Every time we offer to help someone here, they refuse. We offer to do the dishes after almoço, but they are super stubborn and won´t let us. But we miraculously managed to do a little service on Saturday. We showed up for almoço at Vital´s house and saw that they were using wheelbarrows to move a gigantic pile of sand to another location. We offered to help, and of course they refused. I was a little insistent (to the point that Vital´s mom lovingly (I think) called me a stubborn American :) and we ended up getting to help them. And then while we were eating almoço afterwards, they gave us two bags full of Avon products to say thank you! People here are way too nice. 

Yesterday, we saw a drunk guy stumbling down the street who fell over two times and then I think he just decided it would be easier to scoot down the road on his butt, because that´s what he did. People here drink a lot, especially on Sunday. And this week we ate a lot of a traditional Northeastern food called galinha, which I´m pretty sure is just an entire chicken thrown into a pot and cooked. It´s not bad, but sometimes you get some funky looking pieces of chicken. But hey, what would a mission be without some weird food? 

Everything is good here, but the area here is just harder overall than Sousa. People are still really receptive, but it´s hard to get people to come to church on Sunday and to help people to progress, so we end up having to look for new people to teach. I feel like we´re working really hard, yet it´s been hard to see any results. But we´re going to keep working as hard as we can and trust in the Lord. And even if we don´t see many results, at least we have the chance to learn patience and become more like the Savior. 

The first two pictures are from the dunes last P-day, and the rest are from today. And yes, camel-riding on the dunes is a thing here. I´ve never had to be careful with where I stepped because of camel poop before today. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Week 28 Gramoré Natal, Brazil

6 Months

Well, this past week, I officially passed the 6-month mark. I can´t even believe that a third of my mission is over. 6 months ago, I stepped into the MTC with little idea of what awaited me. I still remember the moment they put my nametag on me, and I feel so lucky for these past 6 months I´ve spent wearing my Savior´s name over my heart every day. In these 6 months, I´ve seen the Lord´s hand helping me accomplish things I couldn´t have accomplished alone as I´ve learned how to function in a foreign language and a foreign culture, how to talk to random people on the street every day, and more. I´ve spent 6 months eating rice and beans every day for lunch, taking cold showers, sweating buckets in this crazy heat, getting called "galega" (white girl) more often than "Sister," but more importantly, I´ve spent 6 months studying and bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ that it contains. 6 months being a representative of my Savior and trying to help others come unto Him. 6 months in this crazy, beautiful country that I adore, among the wonderful Brazilian people I´ve grown to love so much. And despite the rejection and hard moments, I´ve seen clearly what my mission call states: "Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children." These 6 months have been one of the greatest blessings in my life, and it´s been amazing to see people change their lives and experience the joy of the gospel. I feel honored to be fulfilling my small role in answering the Savior´s mandate to "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." These 6 months have already changed my life and I can´t wait for the next 12. :)

Other than that, this week, we had a really inspiring zone meeting, and one super discouraging day in which no one was home and nothing worked out. The tender mercy of that day was that Pedro´s mom told us that every time she sees him, he has his Book of Mormon in hand and is always trying to get her to read it too. He´s already a missionary and hasn´t even been baptized yet. :)

Then on Thursday, we did a companionship exchange with our sister training leaders, who are part of another zone. I stayed with Sister M. Baker in her area, Potengi, and her companion stayed in Gramoré with Sister Nóbrega until Sunday night. It was so fun, and I adore Sister M. Baker. She´s from California and also went to BYU, so we got to talk all about that, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, all of the crazy things we had to adjust to in Brazil, and more. She speaks Portuguese super well and is an amazing missionary, and I adopted her as a role model because I want to be like her 6 months from now. She is seriously amazing and it was wonderful to be her companion for a few days. :) I attached a picture of us. We also saw lots of miracles in her area and I got to meet lots of great people. One 12-year-old young man is dying to get baptized, but his grandma won´t let him because he´s "bad-behaved," when in reality, he´s a perfect little angel. When we went to his house, he asked "Can we read the Book of Mormon?" and "Can I say the closing prayer?" and was so excited about everything. It was the most charming thing ever and I hope his grandma takes a chill pill so he can get baptized. All in all, it was a wonderful week. :)

I hope everyone has a great week!

Sister Amy Weatherford

From Sister Baker's blog --

I spent a good part of this week in exchanges with Sister Weatherford in my area. Sister J. Silva went to Gramoré and stayed with Sister Weatherford's companion. I missed Sister J. Silva, but I loved working with Sister Weatherford. She has been on the mission for 6 months, but she is already a fabulous missionary (and got a hang of the language super fast!). I was blown away by how willing she was to do contacts, something that was rough for me in the beginning of the mission. We worked hard together and we saw a lot of miracles.I spent a good part of this week in exchanges with Sister Weatherford in my area. Sister J. Silva went to Gramoré and stayed with Sister Weatherford's companion. I missed Sister J. Silva, but I loved working with Sister Weatherford. She has been on the mission for 6 months, but she is already a fabulous missionary (and got a hang of the language super fast!). I was blown away by how willing she was to do contacts, something that was rough for me in the beginning of the mission. We worked hard together and we saw a lot of miracles.

We were walking down the street and there was nobody else on this road. Out of nowhere a woman turned the corner and called us over and asked us to pray for her. We sat down on the curb with her and she started telling us about how she had just left her husband, and that she had nowhere to sleep. All she had was a plastic bag with a denim jacket inside because her ex had thrown all of her things in the street. She sat with us and cried. She said that she had been walking with the idea to end her life, but then we passed by and almost without thinking she had called us over. We talked for a long time. Cried with her. Hugged her. She called us her angels. I don't know if we will ever see her again because she is sleeping in a different house every night and didn't have an address or phone number to give us. We tried to mark with her to meet up this week, I just hope she remembers. But whatever happens, I felt so grateful to truly be a tool in God's hands to protect His daughter. He knew what she was going through and He sent us there to help her, to comfort her. I thought of our baptismal covenant, "to comfort those that stand in need of comfort." It was such a powerful experience to be able to truly live this promise that I made when I was baptized. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Week 27 Gramoré Natal, Brazil

It was another good week here in Gramoré. Last P-day, we took the bus to another part of Natal called Alecrim and went shopping. I needed some more skirts, since all of mine go flying up in the wind and it obviously causes problems. :) Vital went with us to help us not get lost, and it was fun. 

This week, we did a street contact with a guy who seemed completely normal...and then told us he was the devil. We got out of there as fast as we could. :) One day, we were singing a hymn to start our companionship study when a giant flying insect came straight for my head and we both started screaming. After that, we couldn´t even sing anymore because we both collapsed into giggles. And I have become the unofficial ward pianist, which I love. Our ward also had an open-house activity on Saturday to help people get to know the church. There was food and games and lunch and missionaries in every classroom teaching people little snippets of lessons and it was really cool. We got some good references that we´re going to contact this week and hopefully start teaching. 

Pedro and Andreza are both still progressing, but neither of them was able to come to church on Sunday, sadly. We have another investigator, Maria José, who has already been investigating the church for a year but isn´t baptized because the man she´s been living with for 18 years doesn´t want to get married. We´re also working with her 8-year-old son, Maicon, and hoping that her husband changes his mind. We also worked quite a bit with a recent-convert young man, Adson, who is wonderful. 

It was a good week and I really love the people here, even though the work is a little bit harder overall than it was in Sousa. Sorry this email is so late today; this morning, we walked to a Carrefour supermarket that´s about an hour away and then made lunch as a district and it took forever, which is why we´re on email now. And sorry I don´t have any pictures to send this week -- this area is considered a little bit less safe, so I don´t like taking my camera with me very often. :(

Sister Amy Weatherford