Thursday, January 28, 2016

Week 48 Cidade Verde Natal, Brazil

New Companion

So, I got a new companion this week. Sister Nunes had to go home early, so there was an emergency transfer and my new companion is Sister Gusmão. She´s 19 years old, from Mato Grosso (Brazil), and is in her first transfer in the mission field. She was in Caicó being trained by Sister M. Baker and Sister Muria. She´s an excellent missionary and it doesn´t at all seem that she´s so new as a missionary. She already seems very experienced and I think she´s going to be the one training me instead of the other way around. :) But I miss Sister Nunes like crazy! She was such a great friend to me and we laughed together all the time, so I miss the fun times we had. But I´m grateful for the help that Sister Gusmão has already given me in this area. 

On Wednesday, before Sister Nunes went home, we got to meet together with other missionaries and watch the worldwide missionary broadcast, which was great. We also met a guy named Elder on the street, which was weird. It would be awesome if he went on a mission :) Sister Nunes went home on Thursday, so we spent most of the day in the mission office waiting for her to go to the airport and waiting for Sister Gusmão to get here. 

The miracle of this week was huge progress with Ítala, who we´ve been teaching for a long time, and her husband Hugo. Hugo had never sat in on a lesson with us before, but we invited him and he came. We talked about marriage, and he said he wants to marry Ítala and agreed to let us help out with everything and plan the wedding for the end of February. He also agreed to come to church with us on Sunday, and he said the closing prayer. It was huge progress for Hugo. He and Ítala went to church on Sunday, and Hugo loved it! We´re really excited to keep working with them and seeing them progress. Brena is also doing well. We taught her about the plan of salvation yesterday, and we took Monaliza (a member) to the lesson, and she bore powerful testimony and helped out a lot. Brena said she felt different in our church than she feels in the others and she´s really seeking to know the truth. It´s been awesome to teach her. Francisco is doing well, but we saw him only a couple of times this week as he was busy working. 

A quote for the week: "My young friends, today I say to you that if you trust the Lord and obey Him, His hand shall be over you, He will help you achieve the great potential He sees in you, and He will help you to see the end from the beginning." This quote is a great comfort to me. Everything in my life, and in all of ours, boils down to trust in God. We´re going to have struggles and we´re never going to have answers to everything, but the one thing we can always have is trust in Him. I know He has all wisdom and all power, and I´m grateful to put my life into His hands and know that He can make more out of it than I can.

That´s pretty much it for my week. I hope everyone had a great week and is doing well!

All my love,
Sister Weatherford

Pictures with the gorgeous Sister Nunes!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Weel 47 Cidade Verde Natal, Brazil

We saw lots of miracles this week. It started out on Monday night, when we met with Francisco and started getting him ready for baptism. He told us that night that, even though he´s spent 17 years as member of a Messianic church, he´s happier with his 17 days in our church then he was in 17 years there. He told us he doesn´t even have the words to thank us for what we´ve done to help him. On Tuesday night, he called a phone number to talk with representatives of the church about the 12 step program that the church has to help people overcome addictions. We encouraged him to pray, read the scriptures, call us, and do other things like that to be able to avoid drinking. He sincerely wants to change, and was soooo excited all week for his baptism. But unfortunately, when Sunday came around, our bishop didn´t let him get baptized because he had drunk on Saturday. Which was fair, since he wasn´t supposed to drink on Saturday. But it was heartbreaking to see his disappointment. We heard that he bore his testimony during Elders´ Quorum and said that he was supposed to get baptized that day but couldn´t because he´s an alcoholic, and he asked for help from the brothers. Francisco is one of the most humble people I´ve ever met, and I know that he´ll be able to get over his alcohol addiction. The gospel has power to change people, and I´ve already seen huge changes that it´s made in Francisco. We´re going to keep working with him and motivating him and he will surely be baptized soon.

As for Renata (the woman I talked to at the bus stop who went to church last week), she made huge progress this week. She has lots of questions and doubts and curiosities, so we showed her lots of scriptural passages about ressurrection (as opposed to reincarnation), John 10:17 that talks about the "other sheep" Jesus Christ went to visit in the Americas, and more. She told us that she knows it was God who sent us to her and said that she doesn´t know why she took so long to find the church. We marked her baptism for Sunday, and everything went perfectly. She promised to stop drinking coffee and beer, Elder Carpenter interviewed her and said she was ready, and everything was perfect. Until Saturday, when we called her and found out that she had gone to her friend´s house and wouldn´t be back until Sunday afternoon. We got super discouraged and thought that the baptism was going to get put off until next week. But then, at 8 pm, she called us and said she was on her way home and wanted to talk to us. We went by, and she told us that one of her friends had said a bunch of things about the church (all lies, and crazy ones at that) that made her doubt her decision. But we cleared up her doubts, it all worked out, and she got baptized after church on Sunday! :)

Other than that, we had an integration activity on Friday night, planned by our ward mission leader, that was really fun. He´s doing great work and helping us out a lot. We had interviews with President Soares this week, which was great. He gave me some helpful advice and it was fun to get to talk to him one-on-one. Our lunch appointment for that day fell through, so when the interviews were over, President gave us a ride to a restaurant and ended up staying to eat with us and even paid for our food :) We went to an FHE at Paraguassu and Yusha´s house yesterday night, and they made pancakes and maple syrup! And it´s been raining like crazy here and I LOVE it! 

Another thing I´ve noted here on my mission is that members of the church here in Brazil are pioneers. Most of them are converts, and the church has been here for very little time compared to how long it´s been around in the US. I have so much respect for the members here and admire them greatly. I feel really blessed to be serving among such a faithful people, with people who have made so many sacrifices to be members of the church! They are a powerful example to me.

All my love,
Sister Amy Weatherford

I´m attaching pictures of our FHE on Sunday night. I´ll send more as soon as I can get my camera attached to this dumb computer. :)

Me with a poster of Luan Santana haha

Us with our ward mission leader

Us with Enoch, a brother from the ward

 Renata's baptism

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Week 46 Cidade Verde Natal, Brazil

I love Cidade Verde! We had a great week. Lots of miracles happened. One of them was that we met a man named Robson on the street and he gave us his address so that we could visit him another day. Or so we thought. We showed up at the address he gave us and the woman who answered the door said that she was his wife, but that they separated a year ago and he doesn´t live there anymore. But she let us in, gave us ice cream, and listened to our message. Her name is Lércia. She even told us that she thinks it was the will of God that we met Robson, that he gave that address, that she had come home from work early that day....all so that we could meet her. It was a cool experience. She couldn´t go to church on Sunday, unfortunately, but hopefully it works out this week. Also, she thought I was Brazilian! My Portuguese is getting better :)

Our investigator Francisco also called us one afternoon and asked us to come to the chapel. He was there and told us that he had gotten an answer to his prayer and wanted to follow this path. We showed him the baptismal font and told him that was his next step, and he wants to get baptized. He needs to stop drinking first, but he´s super willing to ask for help and we know that he can do it. We also called in a couple of brothers who were in the chapel as well, and one of them happens to be a convert who drank a lot before getting baptized, so he bore testimony to Francisco about the transforming power of the gospel. It was a great experience.

We also met a young man, Ivo, on the street, who also gave us his address. When we went to his house, he wasn´t home but his mom told us that she had been praying and waiting for someone to help her son and that we were an answer to her prayer. We also met two 25-year-old women, Ingrid and Brena, who are super great. Brena went to church with us on Sunday, and we´re excited to teach them this week. I feel like we´re getting really blessed here with great people to teach.

Also, Renata, a woman we had talked to at the bus stop, went to church yesterday and went with us to a family home evening in Paraguassu and Yusha´s home. She was part of the Espírita religion, which is pretty different and even believes in reincarnation, but she´s liking the church a lot. 

When we went to teach Ariston this week (a cute old man that we´re teaching), Francisco was also there. Ariston lives in an area where a lot of people drink, so usually they´re a little bit tipsy and are really hilarious. Francisco calls Ariston "Santa Claus" because he has a white beard. A drunk guy showed up and called us beautiful, and Ariston and Francisco scolded him and told him that he has to respect us because we´re God´s representatives. :) Francisco and Ariston are really lovable. They´re really sincere and want help. They both gave prayers that were absolutely beautiful. I felt so much love for this Brazilian people that is as a whole incredibly faithful and has so much love for God. I feel really lucky to be a missionary here where people already have that desire to grow close to God.

Also, a funny story from yesterday. We´re helping out with a project in which we´re updating all of the addresses in the system. A lot of people have moved, so we have to go to all of the addresses in the ward and see if that person still lives there or not. We went looking for addresses on the most ridiculous street I´ve ever seen in my life. It´s a suuuuper long street, and the number system of the houses goes something like this: 15, 1378, 2, 54, 8, 906... Absolutely no order at all. I pity the mailmen here :)

Anyhow, everything´s great here! I love my companion, my area, and my mission. I hope everyone has a great week!

Sister Amy Weatherford

Monday, January 4, 2016

Week 45 Cidade Verde Natal, Brazil

Happy New Year! This week on P-day, we spent the afternoon with an awesome family in our ward. Their names are Paraguassu and Yusha, but we call them Painho and Mainha because they treat all of the sisters as their daughters. They have three kids, Rebeca, Josh, and Isaque, and an unofficially adopted daughter named Jessi. They´ve traveled a lot to the United States and invited us and the other four sisters from our district (who are from the Pirangi ward which meets in the same chapel) over to make cinnamon rolls. Then on Tuesday, we also spent the evening with them because Sister Nunes skyped her family in their house (she didn´t skype on Christmas day because her family was traveling). Jessi is absolutely obsessed with the Backstreet Boys, so she pulled out her guitar and she, her sister Rebeca and I sang together. We also got to eat açaí with them. It was way fun :)

It was a good teaching week. A recent-convert young woman, Vitória, went out with us one day to help us, and we´re finding good people to teach. We taught Maria, the woman who went to church last Sunday, and she left it very clear to us that even though she loved her visit, she has absolutely no intention of "becoming Mormon" and leaving her church (Presbyterian). We also taught Sandra, who is even more stubborn than Maria. (Sandra is Ítala´s mother-in-law, who have both visited the church several times and love us). Sandra is Catholic by tradition, even though she´s not active right now, and she also told us that she does not in any way want to stop being Catholic to become Mormon. So we asked her to say a simple prayer, asking God what she should do. She said she´s already certain that the Catholic church is right for her and therefore doesn´t need to ask God, so we told her that if she´s already so sure, what does it hurt to ask God and make sure? But she´s so stubborn that she refused and we couldn´t convince her.

One thing I´ve learned on my mission is that Brazilians love chocolate chip cookies. Seriously. Every time I make cookies for someone, they beg me for the recipe and beg me to make more. On New Year´s Eve, we didn´t do anything special besides going out for açaí (yes, açaí is my addiction). We went to bed at 10:30, but woke up at midnight to try to watch the fireworks that went off on the beach, but there were hardly any and it was a letdown. But we screamed "Happy new year" out of our window before going back to sleep :) 

I hope everyone had a happy new year and had a chance to reflect on the past year and make some resolutions. 2016 is going to be a great year!

Sister Amy Weatherford

I attached pictures of our district and of me and my gorgeous companion.

It´s been raining a lot here and it´s beautiful!