Monday, August 15, 2016

Week 77 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Last Week

So, it´s official. This week, I´ll be ending my time here in Natal and returning home to Laramie. 

I want to express briefly how grateful I am to have served a mission. It´s hard to believe that it´s already over, but I know that my memories and experiences will stay with me forever. I´m so grateful to have spent this time getting closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior, and testifying of them every day. I thought that I was going on a mission to do something in return for my Heavenly Father, but He blessed me more than I even imagined. I´m so grateful for my Savior´s sacrifice and for the greater appreciation I now have for His Atonement. I know that He lives, that He loves us, and that His restored church is on the earth today. 

I love you all! Thanks for keeping up with me and my weekly emails, and thanks for the support!

Pictures: Missão Brasil Natal -- the best mission in the world <3
Fernanda, who we baptized, went out with us for the day! Love her!
Me with Cleide and Rakelly (who Sister V. Lopes and I baptized)
Me and Valtemir 
Me and João Paulo









Thursday, August 11, 2016

Week 76 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Exchanges

This week, we did an exchange with two of the sisters from the Pirangi ward, Sister Braz and Sister Ramos. I went to stay in Sister Braz´s area with her, and Sister Ramos went to stay with Sister Gallo in our area. I stayed there from Wednesday until Saturday morning. Sister Barbosa and Sister Hansen live in the same house as Sister Braz and Sister Ramos, so it was fun to spend some time with them as well. 

I also had my last zone meeting this week! It´s pretty hard to believe that it´s all coming to an end. 

Sorry for being such a slacker with these emails, but it´ll be so much easier to tell stories in person :)

Love,
Amy Weatherford 


Pictures from Fernanda´s baptism last week

Me and Yusha :)

My mission is the most gorgeous of all!

Me and Sister V. Lopes

The biggest cashew tree in the world

Me and Rita and Julia <3

Me and Paraguassu, Yusha, and their kids

I died (we use that term for who is finishing their mission)











Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Week 75 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Best p-day Ever

This email is going to be short, since I´m currently in the middle of the best P-day ever. We´re here in Cidade Verde with Paraguassu and Yusha´s family, and my convert, RITA!!! Yusha took me, my companion, Sister V. Lopes and her companion, along with Rita, to see the biggest cashew tree in the world and to see the beach (from far away) and we had a barbecue for lunch. I feel so blessed and so happy :) 

We had a wonderful week, and we baptized an amazing 12-year-old young woman named Fernanda. I can´t send pictures from this computer, but I´ll send them next week. 

Sorry it´s so short, but know that I´m healthy and extremely happy :)

All my love,
Sister Amy Weatherford

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week 74 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Alecrim

Hello all, forgive my lack of creativity with subjects. And also this short email. I´ll try to sum up what happened this week. João Paulo, a 20-year-old young man we were teaching, got baptized on Wednesday, and Camila, a 15-year-old girl got baptized on Saturday night, and they both got confirmed on Sunday. Unfortunately, I don´t have pictures of either of them, because Elder C. Silva took the pictures on his camera. 

Valtemir is doing wonderfully and even went to church on Sunday in a white shirt and tie -- cutest thing ever!

I gave a talk on Sunday, my last talk here in Brazil! I really can´t remember much else about the week, but things here are well and I can´t believe how fast the time is passing. 

I can´t wait to see you all in less than a month!

Love,
Amy

Us with Valtemir

Us eating açaí with our stake president




Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 73 Alecrim Natal, Brazil




Forgive me any typo in this email, because I´m literally using the worst keyboard in the world. 

So, this week, we started teaching Ivan, the 23-year-old son of a formerly less-active member who is getting active again and took Ivan to church on Sunday. He is super eleito. He told us that he´s played soccer in the church for years and that his member friends always invited him to churh, but he never felt like going. Until now! He was a member of the Assemby of God, but left it a few months ago. And we had the privilege to teach him and get him ready for his baptism on Sunday

Miracles in Alecrem


Ivan also has a friend, named Rick, who was at Ivan´s house one day when we went to teach him. Rick was also a member of the Assembly of God but left it a few months ago. When we explained about the Restoration, he said that he had been praying and asking God which was the true church, and that God sent us to answer that prayer. He agreed to pray about what we taught. We saw him the next day, and he told us that he had a dream in which he saw us and the church. He said he felt that what we taght was true, but he still wated to ask God specifically about baptism. The next day, he told us without our even asking "I´ve made a decision. I`m going to stay in this church." He is unbelievably eleito. He´s 16, almost 17 years old (almost exactly Josh´s age). It´s amazing to see how God prepares people to receive the gospel. I´m excited to see Rick´s progress in the church, and I hope he goes on a full-time mission one day :)

This week we also did a family home evening with Paulo, Rosilene, and their kids, all of whom were baptized several years ago but went inactive because they got offended by a member. We´re trying to help them get active again. They´re a very special family. 

Our ward also had a "festa junina," which is a typical cultural thing from Northeast Brazil. They have a dance called quadrilha, and I filmed it, so I`ll show you guys the videos when I get home :) They also eat a lot of food made out of corn, and cocada, which is made out of coconut and sugar and is delicious! 

Valtemir is doing well. He had a relapse this week, but he´s putting in a lot of effort. He got confirmed, got interviewed by Bishop, and even got a white shirt ad tie that he´s going to start using :) 

I´m not gong to write anymore because this keyboard is stressing me out, but I love you all!

Love,
Sister Weatherford

Me and Sister Gallo
Us with Ivan and his dad, Ivánio, at the ward party
Baptisms (we baptized Ivan and Rick, and the elders baptized a 12-year-old young man, and the other people in white are the people who performed the ordinances)
In front of the church after the baptisms






Our lunch on Sunday

My birthday



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Week 72 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Craziness

This week was seriously one of the craziest on my mission. It started off with the news that Sister V. Lopes was getting transferred to the north zone of Natal. My new companion here in Alecrim is Sister Gallo, who is from Argentina, 23 years old, and has 11 months on the mission. I´m super excited to work with her! Plus, Sister Stadler got transferred from Mossoró to Cidade Verde, which is in my zone, so I get to be her Sister Training Leader! I love that girl <3 On Tuesday night, the 5 new sisters who got here last week spent the night (3 of them came straight from the Provo MTC, so I got to be translator to help them out), and on Wednesday and  Thursday night, the sisters who were going home spent the night. And the 4 sisters from the Pirangi ward had to stay at our house all week because their house got robbed and they need a place to stay until they find a new house to live. So our house was crowded all week and there are suitcases all over the floor, which is a little stressful for a neat freak :)

On Thursday, I turned 21! It was one of the best birthdays ever. I got phone calls from Sister Stadler, Sister Nunes, and a few other sisters, and Elder Petter and Elder C. Silva, along with the Pirangi sisters, organized a surprise for me that night. Elder Petter made up some lie about having to renew our passports to get us to go to the mission office, where they had everything set up and were hiding. When we went in, they all came out and sang to me. They bought a 5 liter box of açaí and hung up balloons all over. It was so sweet and I felt special :)

We had a small conference (with our zone and the Parnamirim zone) with President and Sister Colleoni and their 12-year-old son Geovanny, who is surprisingly mature for his age. It was fun to get to know them and they seem great. 

And the best news of the week is that Valtemir got baptized on Sunday! After the baptism, he literally seemed like a different person. He was radiating happiness, and I know he felt the relief of being cleansed from his sins. I could see how happy he was to have a chance to start his life over. 

Love,
Sister Weatherford

And last night, Rebecca and Roosvel, the couple from our ward who lives in our apartment building, invited us over to eat dinner with them. Here´s our selfie :)

All of the sisters from the two zones

Valtemir´s baptism!

Sister Teixeira, Sister Stadler, Sister Miller (who are in a trio in Cidade Verde) and me







Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Week 71 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Goodbye President Soares

We had a pretty interesting week. To start off, President and Sister
Soares were released, and President and Sister Colleoni (from São
Paulo) arrived! It´s both sad and exciting, since the new President
and Sister seem wonderful.

Valtemir made great progress this week; he didn´t drink or smoke from
Sunday until Friday, when he had a relapse. We took Valtemir to the
house of a recent convert named Joacy, who also drank a lot before his
baptism. Joacy bore testimony to Valtemir, gave him advice and
encouraged him, telling him about how happy he is to have left his old
self behind and started this new life as a follower of Jesus Christ.
We´re going to keep working with him until he can get baptized.
Patience is a virtue. :)

Thursday night, we had an activity that we missionaries organized
with our bishop´s help. We did the Iron Rod activity where everyone
got blindfolded and had to follow the "iron rod" (a string) through
the chapel to arrive at the tree of life, which was a plastic tree
with chocolates taped onto its branches. It was a success, and we took
several investigators.

Friday, one of the companionships we take care of had a conflict,
so we had to take a bus to their area and sit down and talk to them to
help them out.

It was a pretty crazy week, but I was blessed with many tender
mercies. One is that a less-active member named Dantas sent us home
with lots of delicious birthday cake on the day we went to visit him.
As I always mention, I´m always amazed by how giving these people are.
We got to eat a delicious lunch on Sunday, a dish called
"escondidinho," which is made with macaxeira (also called
mandioca....I don´t know the word in English) and chicken and is
absolutely heavenly. A man named Eduardo showed up at church on Sunday
with a member from another ward here in Natal, so we´re going to start
teaching him. He seems really great and receptive. And the best tender
mercy of all was a phone call from Sister Stadler. She called me on
Friday, which was a pretty discouraging day, and she told me she felt
like she needed to call me but she didn´t know why. She is so sweet!
And on Sunday, she called me and handed the phone to Aparecida, a
woman we had started teaching the week before I was transferred. She
called to let me know that she had been baptized that day and was
extremely happy :) I love being a missionary, because the work we do
keeps going forward even after we leave.

This week is transfers, so I´ll let you all know what happens!

Love,
Sister Weatherford

Pictures: Us with Sister Talentino and Sister Mulberry, who came from
Sousa to renew their visas

Us with the delicious pizza we ordered (yes, that´s chocolate pizza)





This is Aparecida, the woman from Mossoró who called me! Love her! <3 


Us in our area

Us eating açaí :)

Us picking up investigators on Sunday morning







Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Amy's homecoming WOW!



Week 70 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Alecrim

So I honestly don´t have a lot to tell you guys about this week....I think I´m just getting lazy about writing these emails, to be honest. :) It was a good week with super rainy weather, which I love! We´re still helping Valtemir, who had a couple of relapses last week but is still making huge progress. Depending on his progress this week, he can get baptized on Sunday

This month is an exciting one for northeastern Brazilians. June/July is the time of year where they celebrate São João and they have what they call festas juninas with traditional dancing, traditional foods made out of corn, and stuff like that. On June 23, everyone lights a bonfire in front of their house, which is cool, despite being a huge hazard. :) Plus, tons of people have been throwing firecrackers on the street, which always gives us a good scare. It´s been pretty crazy around here. 

And...that was pretty much our week. I don´t have a lot to relate in terms of investigators, because a lot of the people we´ve found haven´t progressed a whole lot. But keep Valtemir in your prayers, please!

Love,
Sister Weatherford

Zone conference!

Me and Sister V. Lopes
All of the missionaries who go home in August
Us with President and Sister Soares
Our district (us and Elder Petter and Elder C. Silva, the secretaries)

Pictures of Rakelly´s baptism








Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 69 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Zone Conference

So, this week was our last zone conference with President Soares. It´s weird to think he´ll be going home in less than 2 weeks. I felt the Spirit very strongly, testifying of the reality of Jesus Christ. 

This week, we did an exchange with the sisters who are serving in Canguaretama, a small "interior" city that´s close to Natal. I stayed in my area with Sister Zavaleta, who is from Peru and has 5 months on the mission. It was a good week, and we baptized Rakelly, the granddaughter of two recent converts. She´s been attending church for several months with her grandparents, and finally decided she wanted to be baptized. Her baptism was very special. 

I don´t have time to write more than that, since our stake president and his wife are going to take us out to see some historic parts of Natal. Sorry! I´ll send pictures next week!

Love,
Sister Weatherford


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Week 68 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

Alecrim

This week started out with what we call conselho, which is a meeting for the leaders of our mission (zone leaders, secretaries, assistants, and sister training leaders). The meeting was on Tuesday, but the sister training leaders from the interior came on Monday and spent the night in our house, which was fun. The meeting was similar to the zone conferences, just with less people. The secretaries, assistants, President and Sister Soares all spoke, and we talked together about how we can have more success and be more obedient as a mission. As part of the conselho, the people who go home at the end of this transfer bore their testimonies, and it scared me to think that the next group bearing testimony will be my group. Whoa. 

On Wednesday, we had a zone meeting so that we could teach the other missionaries what we learned in the conselho. I got to meet more of the sisters that I´m responsible for, which was great. 

This week, we started teaching Cleide and Joacir´s daughter, Greice. (Cleide and Joacir are recent converts). Greice and her husband Marcone attend a church called Congregação cristã and is better known as the church of the veil. Something like that. I don´t think it even exists in the US. Anyway, they´re really receptive and we were able to teach them about the Restoration, and they surprised us by going to church on Sunday (they didn´t commit to going but said they would go if it worked out). Marcone didn´t go because he had to work. And during sacrament meeting, Greice´s 4 year old daughter asked me "Where is Jesus Christ? Is he here?" I explained to her that He was there but that we couldn´t see Him. Her question was so cute and showed the pure, innocent faith of a child. She was in His house, so naturally Jesus Christ must be there. 

There´s a recent convert in our area named Wilmer. He loves to buy presents for people, and he´s been wanting to buy açaí for us for a while, but it´s never worked out. But this week, since my throat was better, we accepted his offer and he sent us a liter of açaí. It was sooo good. :) I also got to eat a lasagna this week that tasted like it came from Olive Garden. 

And the best part of the week was Valtemir. We found out that he started drinking and smoking when he was 8 years old. Yes, 8. And he is now 56, so it´s been a while. He even went through a period in which he used injectable drugs (though luckily doesn´t anymore), and occasionally uses crack. But this week, he made amazing progress. He went to church for the second time, and he hasn´t even been leaving his house so that he won´t get tempted to drink. He´s been studying the Book of Mormon and praying, and always humbly asks for forgiveness and for help to overcome his addictions in his prayers. It is such a pleasure to teach him and to see how much he wants to change. And I know that even though he´s been addicted for 48 years, he can change. That´s the beautiful message of the gospel: that the Atonement doesn´t have limits, and that God can truly do miracles. I believe that with all my heart and know that Valtemir can change and can start a new life. 

All my love,
Sister Weatherford

Pictures: 
conselho
Elder Aguiar, my best zone leader ever (from Mossoró)
Zona Natal
Our sisters <3