Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Week 66 Alecrim Natal, Brazil

On Tuesday we got the unexpected news: I was getting transferred to Alecrim, which is the neighborhood in Natal where the mission office is. Which also means that I´m now a sister training leader. And guess who took my place in Mossoró 2? Sister Nunes, my daughter! And Sister Stadler is also pretty much my daughter, and now they´re going to be companions <3 My new companion is Sister V. Lopes. She´s 21 and is from Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. She´s amazing and I´m excited to work with her.

But unfortunately, this was a rough week. First of all, our house here in Alecrim is where all of the sisters who are going home stay, so on Wednesday and Thursday, we had to help the outgoing group of sisters get everything in order to go home. Then, my companion got sick with fever and a sore throat, and then I got sick. On Saturday and Sunday, my throat was hurting like crazy and my whole body ached. And last night, I had a fever of 102 degrees. I´m still not so great right now, but I´m hoping to get better soon so we can have a good productive week. 

Sorry for this short, unexciting email, but I love you all and hope you had a great week!

Sister Weatherford

Pictures: Me and my two filhas at the bus stop before I left
Our district on transfer day

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 65 Mossoró, Brazil

Service projects, baptisms, and blessings

 On Tuesday we got to eat almoço at Luana (our convert)´s house, who signed up on the lunch calendar. Super cute :) Then we went to Marcos´and João Victor´s house to do a service project. Our whole district went: 4 sisters and 4 elders. Their house is absolutely filthy, so we went there and took everything out and deep cleaned it. I already knew the house was in bad shape, but we didn´t know how bad of shape until we took everything out....and discovered a mouse family (which the elders killed with brooms) and about a thousand cockroaches. I was honestly shocked to see people living in such horrible conditions. There were mountains of dirty clothes that hadn´t been washed for months, full of cockroaches, that we shook out and took home to wash in our washing machine. The bathroom was full of spiders (luckily I wasn´t the one to clean the bathroom). It was disgusting. But it turned out really nice when we finished, and we hung up pictures of Jesus Christ as a finishing touch. Elder Aguiar shaved Marcos´ beard, since he was embarrassed by it at church last Sunday. It was great to have that opportunity to serve some of God´s precious children. 

Unfortunately, despite all of our efforts, Marcos ended up not getting baptized this week. We found out he had been lying to us and had been drinking and smoking secretly. He even tried to lie to Elder Harris during his interview, saying that he hadn´t drunk, when it was obvious that he was so drunk, he couldn´t even walk straight. And when we went to pick up João Victor for church on Sunday, he also let us down, saying that he didn´t feel like going. He had been doing so well during the week, asking if we were going to give him a white shirt and tie, and even going back to school (he hadn´t been going for a few months). I remember feeling so let down, so disappointed to see João Victor and Marcos throw everything we did to give them a chance to start a better life out the window. But then I realized that God was letting me glimpse how my Savior feels when people choose not to use His Atonement, when people throw the opportunity He gives them to change their lives for the better out the window. Those kinds of experiences have helped me get to know my Savior on a level that I never knew Him before.

We also saw many blessings this week. We met an amazing family, a mom (Aparecida) and her three kids, Letícia, Luiz Antonio and Emily. We only taught them one time, and only Letícia was able to go to church yesterday, but we feel strongly that they were prepared by God to receive the gospel and we know it is going to bless their lives immensely.  

Plus, Allan and Maria Clara got baptized this week! Agnelo, Maria Clara´s uncle, baptized both of them. It was super stressful getting everything ready for the baptism, because there was no water in the chapel and we had to reschedule for 4 pm on Sunday, plus Agnelo messed up the prayer a few times and couldn´t manage to get her all the way underwater. So Maria Clara got baptized about 10 times. But it all worked out and the Bishop´s wife even made a beautiful cake :) (there were 4 baptisms in total, since the other sisters baptized two people)

That was our week! We have transfers this week, and I´m praying to stay here in Mossoró 2. 

Sister Weatherford

For you to have an idea of how tiny Marcos´ house is
Marcos before shaving
Marcos after shaving
We 4 sisters did a photo shoot last P-day haha: we <3 Mossoró, gangsters, walking :)

Me and Sister Stadler
Us with Luana on Sunday
Us with Felipe, who is going on a mission to Argentina this week
Baptism pictures
Maria Clara and Allan

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 64 Mossoró, Brazil

Great week

I´m going to give more of an update on specific people, rather than events from the week:

This week, Stefanny got baptized! She´s 12 years old and is amazing. She has a strong desire to do what´s right, and she always invites her friends and cousins to church too. She got baptized on Thursday, confirmed on Sunday, and already got a copy of Personal Progress. We see huge potential in her. 

Her friend Marlon wanted to get baptized too, but his mom didn´t let him. But as we were walking down the street after leaving the "vila" (a place with several houses) where Marlon and Stefanny live, we heard someone yell "Hey!" and we turned around and saw them and several other children running after us. They caught up to us and everyone was saying excitedly "He wants to get baptized tomorrow!" pointing to a 10-year-old boy named Allan. We asked him if it was true and he nodded. We asked him if he knew what baptism was for, and he shook his head. We told him that he can get baptized, but that first we have to help him get ready, teaching him some things and taking him to church, and he agreed. 

The next day, we met Allan´s mom, Eliene, who is super supportive of his desire to get baptized. She is very receptive and we´re going to start teaching her as well. 

This week, we taught Lara, who is friends with a member of our ward who is going on his mission to Argentina next week. His name is Felipe, and he picked us up along with another member named Letícia, and took us and Lara to his house. We taught her the Restoration and Felipe and Letícia both bore their testimonies, which made the lesson super powerful. Lara said a sincere prayer asking God to help her know if the church is true. I think she already knows it´s true, because the day after, she told Felipe that she´s going to get baptized within these two years while he´s on his mission. But we and Felipe are going to try to convince her to get baptized before he leaves. :) 

On Saturday, my heart melted. We were walking towards the bank when we ran into Lucas, 2 of his member friends (who were inactive) and a nonmember friend of theirs. They were coming back from the Primary activity, which had been cancelled. It was literally the most adorable thing I´ve ever seen and I was so proud of my little Lucas for going to the activity on his own and for being such a good little missionary <3

Sunday was crazy. We took a lot of young kids to church, since Stefanny invited a bunch of friends, and one of the counselors in the Primary came and complained and made us sit in on the Primary lesson because they apparently weren´t behaving themselves. When we got there, we saw that our investigators were behaving themselves super well and the members were the ones being wild, so we got pretty annoyed. But it all worked out fine.

And last of all...Marcos (João Victor´s dad). We spent this week getting Marcos ready for his baptism, which was supposed to be yesterday. He didn´t drink or smoke all week (he almost smoked a couple of times but we got there right in time to take the cigarette out of his mouth before he lit it), but he drunk on Sunday morning. So we postponed his baptism. But he did go to church and he loved it. I feel so honored to teach him, because I have never seen someone with so much desire to change their life and who is so willing to do whatever God asks. It will be amazing to see him enter the waters of baptism on Sunday. 

All my love,
Sister Weatherford

Fernanda (Brad´s wife) from our ward makes the most delicious chocolate chip cookies I´ve ever eaten. 

Another picture of João Victor´s baptism that I forgot to send

Us with our bishop and his family

Stefanny´s baptism

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Week 63 Mossoró, Brazil

Mossoró <3

This week, I celebrated my 1 year and 2 month mission anniversary! We had a good week. Let me try to sum up the highlights: 

We spent the week helping João Victor get ready for his baptism, and we started teaching his dad, Marcos. Marcos has a drinking problem, but this week he asked us, "What do I need to do to get baptized?" We told him that he needs to quit drinking and smoking, and he said he would. He made quite a bit of progress this week and was excited to go to church on Sunday. Unfortunately, when we went to pick them up on Sunday morning, he wasn´t home and therefore didn´t go. But we´re not going to give up on him. He and João Victor live in very humble circumstances, and we know that the gospel will be an amazing blessing in their lives. 

I got to play the piano at our stake president´s baptism this week, which is always great. Once again, thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to play piano. It´s one of my favorite ways to serve :) 

One day, we were walking along a street when a man named Carlos, who is an inactive member that we had met last week, called us over and invited us in to eat a delicious homemade soup that he had made. It had been kind of a discouraging day and that small act of kindness touched my heart and meant a lot to me. I´m so grateful for people who are willing to reach out and serve those around them, because the small things can make a huge difference in someone´s day.

We´re teaching one of Lucas´ friends, Francisco (also known as Chiquinho), who is a 12-year-old boy. He´s super intelligent and he pays attention to everything we say. He said he had already been baptized in another church, but when we explained that he needs to be baptized in the same way that Jesus Christ was, he said he wanted to get baptized, so it´s scheduled for this Sunday. We´re hoping it all works out, because we already see him as a future missionary :)

We´re also teaching a 7-year-old girl who always comes to church with her member uncle and who is going to turn 8 on May 18. Her name is Maria Clara, and she has become my shadow. On Sundays, she follows me around wherever I go and it´s pretty adorable. She´s excited for her baptism. 

And on Sunday....we saw a miracle happen. We picked up João Victor for church and while we were walking around picking up other people, he started saying that he didn´t want to get baptized anymore. He continued saying that on the bus, and during all 3 hours of church. We tried talking to him and asking him why he changed his mind, but he wouldn´t tell us. Sister Stadler and I went into a classroom by ourselves and said one of the most fervent prayers of our lives that the Lord would touch his heart and that everything would work out, and when he came out of the young men´s lesson, he went into the bathroom with Alberto (a young man that the sisters teach who also got baptized yesterday) and they came out dressed in their baptismal clothes. It was literally a miracle and the baptism was beautiful. I wanted to cry when I saw João Victor in the water, because I know that that decision he made is going to change his life. He has huge potential and we´re so excited to see him progress.

And, last night, I got to Skype my beautiful family! It was so good to see everyone and hear their voices <3 And I didn´t even cry this time, probably because I know I´m going to see everyone in 3 months. And afterwards, Fernanda (Brad´s wife) made us huge, delicious chocolate chip cookies :) What a great way to end a great week!

Sister Weatherford

Zona Mossoró
Baptism pictures 
Amy in front of the "mother" store

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 62 Mossoró, Brazil

Mossoró <3

Our bishop already loves Ricardo, the man we baptized last week. On Monday night, he organized a family home evening and picked up us and Ricardo, along with the other sisters and a few of their investigators (some 10-year-old kids who kept begging me to speak English :). We´re really happy because we know it means that the ward will keep taking care of Ricardo even after we get transferred.

On Tuesday, we went home after almoço because I was dead tired. (Ever since we went to Ouro Negro the week before, I was super tired all the time and always had a headache, and sometimes a slight fever.) When I measured my temperature, I saw that I had a fever, so we stayed home that afternoon. My fever got up to 102 degrees, and would not go away. I finally decided to ask someone for a Priesthood blessing, so we called Felipe and his dad, Jucenildo, and asked them to come over. They came and gave me the blessing at about 9 pm, I went to sleep, and woke up without a fever in the morning and was great for the rest of the week. I know that it was because of the power of the Priesthood. I know that Heavenly Father wanted me to humble myself enough to ask for a blessing and trust in His power. 

We had a good week, but lots of discouraging moments in which we had to drop investigators or in which we got dropped by our investigators. But we worked super hard and did lots of street contacts, and the Lord blessed us for our efforts. We found lots of great new people to teach. And on Sunday, Lucas (the boy we baptized) went around inviting all of his friends to church and took two of them, Iggor and Chiquinho. Sunday was one of the most stressful days of my life. It´s never a good idea to take a group of young boys to church, because they all rally each other up and cannot stay still and be reverent. They were all running around in the chapel, talking super loud, laughing and being totally irreverent. During the sacrament, I had to repent for having felt the urge to kill investigators and recent converts. :)

And on top of that, we gave a lesson in Primary and all of the kids were screaming and stressing us out. Sunday really made me think twice about Elementary Education...

I played the piano at the sisters´ baptism after church, and pretty much all of the little kids came over and surrounded me to watch. They asked me to speak English too. It was hilarious, and you´ll see a picture attached. 

After church, we visited João Victor, who will be baptized this week. We had to ask for his dad to sign the baptismal "ficha," but he doesn´t know how to read or write, so we covered his thumb in pen ink and he signed it with his fingerprint. I also think Brazil is the only place where, when you go to fill out the ficha, the person doesn´t know their own birthday or their parents´ full names and birthdays. Oh, Brazil. :)

So, that was our week: a crazy adventure. But I wouldn´t trade it for anything :)

Sister Weatherford