Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 61 Mossoró, Brazil


This week was transfers, and I stayed here in Mossoró with Sister Stadler, which I was hoping for. Sister G. Nunes got called to train a new sister, so I became a grandma! :) The sister she´s training is Sister Cueva from Peru, and she seems awesome. She already speaks Portuguese really well. Elder Harris, our district leader, is training an American, Elder Zylks. Sister Barbosa got transferred, and Sister Teixeira from São Paulo came in her place. 

This week was great, though tiring. On Tuesday, we went to a place called Ouro Negro, which is part of our area, but is pretty far away (like an hour and 15 minutes walking). We spent hours walking in the sun, and when we got home that night, I had a fever and my whole body ached. I´m pretty sure it was heatstroke or something. And for the rest of the week, I was exhausted. 

But the best part of the week was Ricardo´s baptism on Saturday! Ricardo is seriously amazing. He´s still reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and is already in 2 Nephi. He got confirmed on Sunday, along with Lucas, who´s the most adorable thing ever. Lucas also took his friend Miguel to church. 

We started teaching a couple named Daniel and Izamara, who went to church on Sunday. They are great, but they´re not legally married. And Daniel doesn´t even have legal documents, because he wasn´t raised by his real parents and the person who raised him never registered him. But there´s a member of the church here in Mossoró who works in the cartório and is going to help us out with his documents and can help them get married for free. 

We´re working a lot with our recent converts to get referrals. Luana took us out the other day to meet her friends and neighbors, and Alice is inviting all of her friends to church. We´re hoping that it helps us find lots of new people to teach. 

Sister Weatherford

Me and Sister Stadler

Our little family: my daughter, Sister Nunes, granddaughter, Sister Cueva, and stepdaughter, Sister Stadler :)

Our district and Ricardo´s baptism

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Week 60 Mossoró, Brazil

Crazy Week

Things are well here in Mossoró. Before I get into updates about our investigators, a few random things: 

We 4 sisters organized and held a ward activity on Wednesday night in an attempt to encourage the members to help out more in missionary work. We shared the message of the Restoration, did some role plays about how to invite friends to church, and the members wrote down the names of people that they wanted to invite. It was a great activity and our ward mission leader loved it. His name is Goldenberg and he´s a little...strange. Plus he wasn´t very excited about his calling before, but after the activity, he got a lot more excited and we´re hoping he´s going to help out more. 

Our neighbor owns a rooster. The most annoying rooster on the face of the planet. Every morning, he wakes us up and interrupts our personal study with his crowing. It´s seriously irritating. 

One of the members of our ward, Chicon, lives in our apartment building. He is incredible and is willing to help us out with anything we ask. We´re also pretty sure he´s one of the 3 nephites, because we´ve never even seen him eat and he´s rather mysterious... :) 

Brad took us out to eat rodízio pizza, which is like Rodízio grill, but the waiters go around with pizza instead of meat. Chocolate pizza is the best <3 

So, investigators...

Remember that I talked about Micael last week, who went to church and loved it? We visited him on Tuesday and taught about the Restoration. He´s a super intelligent young man. When we invited him to get baptized, he said he wasn´t sure and that he wanted to get baptized, but only a few years from now. So on Wednesday, we fasted for him (and a couple of other people that I´ll mention in a minute). When we went back on Thursday, we read Alma 32:16-18 with him and he said he wanted to get baptized, so we filled out his "ficha" (totally don´t know that word in English) and taught him the commandments. On Friday, Elder Harris interviewed him. On Saturday, we read the Book of Mormon with him. Then, when we went on Sunday to pick him up for church, he said he didn´t want to get baptized anymore, because he didn´t want to keep the law of chastity. We were heartbroken :( But we´re not going to give up on him. He´s an amazing young man and he knows that he needs to be baptized. I think he just got scared that it was so fast and made up an excuse. 

Paula: Paula is the mom of a young man who was baptized before I got here, Daniel. On Tuesday, we invited her to get baptized on Sunday along with Micael, and she accepted and got way excited. We visited her every day this week, yet on Sunday, when we got there, she said she was feeling sick and didn´t want to go to church.

Lucas: Lucas is an 11-year-old boy that is friends with Jorge, a 10-year-old boy who was baptized a few months ago. We had already invited Lucas a few weeks ago to get baptized and he accepted, so this week, we finished teaching him the lessons and organized everything. We met his aunt, who´s responsible for him, and she is sooo happy that we´re helping Lucas. She´s Catholic, but she told us that we can take Lucas to church whenever we want. She´s already excited for Lucas to serve a mission, haha. One day, we asked Lucas to say the closing prayer. He was nervous in front of his aunt, so Sister Stadler offered to speak and let Lucas repeat after her. When it came to the part of giving thanks, his aunt cut in and took over and made Lucas repeat after her. She went on for about 5 minutes, making Lucas thank God for being a "child of God, a young man of God, a MAN OF GOD (she was almost yelling at the part)." It was a really intense prayer. I was literally shaking with silent laughter during the prayer because it was hilarious to hear Lucas repeating every single word she said. But anyway, Lucas was baptized on Sunday and it was awesome :) He´s super adorable! 

Ricardo: Ricardo is Luana´s dad and is extremely intelligent. He´s already been to church with Luana 3 times and loves it, but he was a little hesitant about baptism because he´s been member of a Shalom Catholic church for 30 years. But when we went to see him on Friday, he accepted a baptismal date for this Saturday! He´s already reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and he said he´s going to read the whole thing. He´s amazing! 

Alice, the young woman we baptized on my first Sunday here, went out with us and loved it. She said she wants to serve a mission. :)

It was an amazing week, followed by the most emotional Sunday ever. We were super sad about Micael and Paula´s baptisms not having worked out, and to make things worse, Goldenberg taught Gospel Principles and said a whole bunch of stuff that did not need to be said. (Like that he wants to learn how to stop the wind just like Jesus Christ, and how the government just robs our money. And the lesson was supposed to be about Priesthood...). We´re going to ask the bishop to let us teach the class from now on. Plus, Normando, a man who got baptized before I got here, told us he doesn´t want to come to church anymore because he fell back into alcohol and drugs. He is such a lovable person and it was so heartbreaking to hear him say that that we cried. Everyone was worried about us before our eyes were super red. Luckily, it didn´t show in the pictures of Lucas´ baptism.

Last night, we had a pajama party at the other sisters´ house (Sister Thomson, Sister Miller, Sister Hernandez, Sister Rodrigues, and Sister G. Nunes) and we ate lots of açaí :) 

Sorry this email is huge, but it was a pretty crazy week. Yesterday, I felt really let down. I even felt let down by God, and I questioned why things can´t be easier.  I questioned why God let Paula and Micael not get baptized. But then we watched a video called "Missionary Work and the Atonement" in which Elder Holland says that when we ask why missionary work can´t be easier, we need to remember that someone a lot greater already asked the same question. Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, and to really come to know my Savior, I need to feel a tiny part of what He went through. How can I expect it to be easy for me when it wasn´t easy for Him? I really do feel closer to Him when I go through hard things as a missionary, and I feel the power of His Atonement lift me up and comfort me. I know that He knows everything we go through and that He can strengthen us to bear up all things. And I love being a missionary <3

Sister Amy Weatherford

Lucas´ baptism
This picture is horrible, but it´s of me and Sister Thomson eating açaí :)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 59 Mossoró, Brazil

Mossoró abençoada

I love Mossoró. I found out that I really missed being in the interior and didn´t even know it. People here on the street are a thousand times friendlier, and it´s just awesome to be a missionary in the interior. But it is unbelievably hot here. Even hotter than it was in Natal. At noon, it literally feels like being inside an oven. I can feel the sun roasting my legs and the back of my arms. But I try not to complain about the sensation of sweat running down my neck and back, because I know that one day I´ll miss it. :)

Anyway, this week was fun. Every Thursday, our whole district goes to one companionship´s area and splits up and finds new people for that companionship to teach in their area. So on Thursday, we went to our zone leader´s area and we had a pretty cool experience. We were walking by and saw a guy standing on the street corner with headphones in, so we just said "Boa tarde." He took out his headphones and said "Tudo bem?" so we stopped to talk to him. He said he had gotten out of prison a few days before and really wanted to change his life. We talked about the church and baptism, and asked if he accepted our help to get ready for baptism and start his life over. He accepted and was really interested and receptive. He even told us that he had been in his house but felt like going out and standing on the corner, though he didn´t know why. It was to meet us. It´s amazing how God works in such simple ways to put people in our path. 

Also, there´s a brother in this ward named Brad, who´s American. I´m pretty sure I already mentioned him (he´s married to a Brazilian and opened an English academy here). On Saturday, he asked me to help out since one of the teachers couldn´t come, so I got to direct a conversation class. I also found out that my companion speaks quite a bit of English, really well, but is shy about speaking. It was way fun, and we also got chocolate chip cookies! His wife, Fernanda, makes some of the most delicious cookies I´ve ever had in my life. 

On Saturday, Luana got baptized. Sister Stadler and her previous companion had invited her to church before I got here, and last Sunday, she watched Alice´s baptism and decided she wanted to be baptized too. She´s 21 and has light retardation, so she acts more like a teenager, but she´s super sweet. She developed a slight crush on Elder Harris after the baptismal interview, haha. 

Sunday was amazing! There´s a bus that the church rents here to pick people up for church, especially investigators. We were able to pick up Lucas, an 11-year-old boy that we teach, Luana and her dad, and put them on the bus, and then the bishop´s wife gave us a ride to pick up our investigators in the neighborhood where the bus doesn´t go. Luana, along with Normando and Carlos, two people who were baptized before I got here but weren´t confirmed because of general conference, got confirmed yesterday. We took Micael, Carlos´ older brother to church too. He did seemed totally uninterested when we invited him during the week, and I didn´t even think he was actually going to go with us, but he went and he loved it! He said he´s going to go next Sunday too. Plus, a member brought his friend, Lara, to church and she loved it and wants to get baptized, so we´re going to start teaching her. 

I´m seriously so happy here. It always takes me a little while to get used to a new area and new companion, but I´m already totally adjusted and absolutely loving this new area and this new adventure :) I love being a missionary!

Sister Amy Weatherford

There´s a company here called "Weatherford." Kid you not. 

An old picture of me and Sister Gusmão drinking coconut water

Luana´s baptism

 Rita's baptism <3

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Week 58 Mossoró, Brazil

Emergency Transfer

On Thursday, I got a pretty depressing phone call. I was getting emergency transferred to Mossoró, a city in the interior of Rio Grande do Norte. TWO days before Rita´s baptism. And when I got the phone call, I was in a different area doing an exchange, so I had to go back to my area, pack my bags, say goodbye to Rita and leave for Mossoró the next morning and it was all really crazy. 

My new companion is Sister Ariadne Stadler. She has only been on her mission for a month, so I´m going to finish her training. She´s 19 years old, from Curitiba, and was born in the church. And she is amazing. I am so excited to be her companion. And I´m super excited to be here in Mossoró. It´s everyone´s favorite place in the mission, despite being the hottest. It´s going to be an adventure for sure. 

On Sunday, we baptized a young woman named Alice that the sisters were getting ready. I met her two days ago, but I love her so much already. She reminds me a lot of myself, and we´ve already made plans to go to a One Direction concert together some day :) 

Rita and Julia got baptized yesterday, and I wish I could have been there, but I am so happy. Before I left, Rita gave me a framed picture of the two of them so that I wouldn´t forget them. I miss them so much! I feel so blessed to have met so many incredible people on my mission. 

General conference was amazing. It´s hard to believe that by the time the next conference rolls around, I won´t be a missionary anymore. I was grateful for the inspired messages that were given.

All my love from Mossoró,
Sister Weatherford

Us at a member´s house. It´s an American (Brad) who came back to Brazil to open an english school and got married and stayed here and is now a member of our ward. They made us cinnamon rolls!
Saying goodbye to Rita :(
On my way to Mossoró!
Reunited with Sister Thomson and Sister G. Nunes in Mossoró!
Me and Sister Stadler
Us with Alice before the baptism

A cool story for you to share with the family.

On my last Sunday in Sousa (a while back...), I did what we call a contato de fogo, where you invite someone to get baptized the first time you talk to them (in a contact on the street). The man accepted, and told us that he had problems with drugs and really wanted help. We wrote down his address, but I was transferred that Wednesday and lost track. 

This past week, Sister Pace (who was in Sousa), showed me a picture of that very man, on the day of his baptism! His mom was also baptized. Sister Pace said that the man (his name is Francisco, by the way) even remembered me, though he didn´t remember my name (of course, haha). But he told her about an American missionary with a really sweet, bright spirit. :)

It brought tears of joy to my eyes to see the fruits of my work 7 months later! I´m sending along the pictures of his and his mom´s baptisms. 

Missionary work is amazing!

Where is Mossoro: