Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Baptism!!

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas! We had a 2 hour Christmas conference in Uberaba with Pres. and Sis. Prieto. It was short and sweet but I understand that they have a family that they need to spend time with. We spent the morning on a 4 hour bus ride (the bus was EMPTY...who travels on Christmas day?) Our Christmas day lunch thought that we would stay in Uberaba for Christmas day, so when we showed up ather house she hadn´t even started cooking anything. We helped her make a simple lunch...rice and beans and a meat and some fruits.

After lunch we had to start running around to get everything ready for our baptism that night. We´re really blessed to have such a great ward mission leader here in this branch. Irmão Henderson set up the chairs for us and turned on the baptismal font while I was making my phone call home. I love you all! When our baptism showed up 15 minutes late, we were in a panic because there weren´t enough priesthood holders to have a baptism. We were running around at the last minute because our planned priesthood holders traveled without letting us know. We managed to find some dedicated memebers to come and perform the baptism and serve as witnesses. One of the Irmãos was fishing when we called him, but hurried home to shower and make it to the baptism. This is how I want to be. I want to be the type of member that people can count on and that´s willing to put the church first...even on Christmas day...when I´m fishing.

Our baptsim was Sadayuke. He´s half Japanese! He was taught by the elders a while back but didn´t want to be baptized. But, he´s been coming to church regularly now and last week asked us to mark a baptismal date for him! Baptism on Christmas Day is super special! Now we´re working on a baptism New year´s day.

One of my Christmas presents was transfers! I got a new companion...Sister Da Silva. She´s from Manaus which is part of the Amazon and I´m super excited to get to know her better. She´s one of the sisters that I know the least, but she knows how to work hard and I know that we´ll be woking hard together here in Patos. Sister Chipman switched places with Sister Da Silva and is now working in Uberaba with 2 other Americans. I´m greatful for the things that I learned with Sis. Chipman. . . I´m glad that I´ll have the opportunity to work with Sis. Da Silva.

Well...next up is New Years. I can´t believe that another year has gone by! But here in Brasil it´s Christmas Eve that´s full of fireworks...let´s just say the sisters didn´t get very much sleep Christmas eve and I´m sure New Year´s will be just as noisy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Physically and Spiritually Staying in Shape

This week was all about Christmas. The branch had an afternoon at the chapel with Churrasco (barbeque type lunch) and then a big dinner. Because of the big lunch I was in no shape to eat dinner :) I passed out the candy canes you sent and everyone loved them. It´s wierd to me that these people have never heard of candy canes, but for us it´s part of the Christmas tradition. At the activity we had a tone of less active members participate. We´re trying to work with the less actives and get them excited again about the gospel.The hills here are killers. This picture doesn't
do them justice, but they are literally 90 degrees
and we always arrive at the top out of breath.

I´m looking in my daily planner to see exactly what we did this week...a lot of walking. We have the entire city and our investigators are sometimes on opposite ends of the city. When one appointment falls through it´s not such a good feeling because normally it takes a minimum of 30 minutes to arrive at the houses of our investigators. The people that live too far away to walk, we catch the bus, which is always a hot spot to make street contacts and invite people to visit the church.

This past week I finished reading all the general conference talks...from May. It took me a while because with only 1 hour of personal study time and so many things to study, I can´t read conference talks every day. But it feels good to look at my Ensign all marked up and think about all the things that I learned. We recently got the October Ensign (the special edition about temples.) I´m tearing through it, but it makes me miss going to the temple weekly. I can´t believe it´s been so long since I´ve been to visit the temple! The branch will be going on another temple trip in January because of a couple that´s going to go be sealed. It´s so great to see members that literally count down the days until they can visit the temple again. Sometimes we take advantage of the fact that the temple is so close to us when really we should remember always the blessings of going to the temple. I love hearing about the temple experiences that everyone back home has in going to the temple, especially grandma.

So, this is my new adopted daugher, Nilzielle. She wanted a Christmas tree for Christmas, so an Irmã in the ward went out and cut off a tree limb for her to decorate. We used the decorations you sent mom, so it was perfect. Nilzielle has never had a Christmas tree before and was super excited to put up all the christmas lights and decorations! Thanks for all the supplies! Oh...and she´s obsessed...i mean OBSESSED with Japan. You have no idea how much she loves me just because I´m Japanese and when she saw our family photo she was super excited to see how Japanese mom is.

This is just a clip of what rainy season tastes like here in Patos de Minas. I´ve heard that other cities are worse...yikes. I tried speaking in English, but half way through my brain tired and Portuguese came out. Sorry! Talking this Saturday should be interesting :)
video

Monday, December 13, 2010

2 Baptisms!

This past week we were blessed with 2 baptisms! Deise was baptized and so was Giulia! What was really great was that Deise´s sisters and mother came to her baptism and Giulia´s grandparents also came (they´re not members). It´s so great to see missionary work that happens in our own homes and families. There was good member support too…Deise is already a part of the branch and so many of the Irmãs really like her which is no surprise because she is SUPER special.

This week was super hectic. We got a phone call Tuesday from Elder Reed (the secretary in charge of finances and bus fares and transfers.)

E. Reed: Sister, President Prieto wants to interview you and Sis. Chipman.

Me: Ok

E. Reed: He wants to interview you tomorrow.

Me: Ok

E. Reed: He wants to interview you in Goiânia.

Me: WHAT?!?

Goiânia is a 10 hour bus ride from Patos de Minas! Well E. Reed was kind and offered us 2 options for our bus. We could either leave that night 9:30 pm to arrive in Goiânia a little after 7 am or we could leave 4:10 am the next morning to arrive in Goiânia a little after 2 pm. Well…since I sleep on all the buses anyways, we opted to leave that night. He told us that we wouldn´t be returning to Patos until Friday morning, so we spent the rest of our Tuesday canceling appointments and lunches.

I thought it was a little weird that Pres. would bus us out to Goiânia in the middle of the week when it would be way more cost and time efficient for him to come to Patos. That night it poured rain while we were waiting at the bus station. We got a phone call from our district leader and when he heard the noise in the background he asked us where we were. I told him we were waiting for our bus to Goiânia and he said “You too?” apparently the Sisters in Uberlândia were also going to Goiânia. This confirmed my suspicions that we weren´t going to Goiânia for interviews…

After a looooooong bus ride we arrived in Goiânia and dropped our stuff off @ the mission office. We then went to work knocking doors in Goiânia. I´m so greatful that I´m working in an area that´s a smaller city. I really don´t like the big cities and it took us a while to find a neighborhood with houses and not apartments. I can´t imagine what the work is like in São Paulo.

Well when we were finally allowed to head to the mission home, we ran into the rest of the sisters!!!!! All of us showed up @ the same time and we were told that our Christmas present was a sleep over in the mission home!!!

We ate a big dinner and then got our presents…when we opened the wrapping paper it was to find a scrap of wallpaper and a piece of cardboard. What I´ve always wanted (speaking of presents I got the rest of the packages for Christmas). Sis. Prieto led us to a table full of arts and crafts stuff and let us have at it. My creative little mind was just whirling with ideas. In the end all of the sisters made picture frames or some sort of picture…I made a baby mobile. It´s now hanging above my bed on the same string as my mosquito net.

Sis. And Pres. Prieto shared a spiritual thought and then let us have at it with the pictures. It´s the first and probably the last time that all of us will be together and so we made the most of it staying up until almost 4 am. The next morning we felt the effects when the alarm went off 6:30 am…like always and we were rushed to the bus station to catch our 8 am buses. Sis. Chipman and I spent the day working in Uberlândia with the sisters there and then caught a bus back to Patos the following morning.

Well this was our exciting week this week and I know that until Christmas things are just going to get better!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Warmth in Brazil. . . In More Ways Than One. . .

While you are all freezing in the states, here in Brasil, December and January are the hottest months of the year!

I have some fantastic news!!!! Deise was interviewed Sunday afternoon and is going to be baptized this next Saturday!!!! The branch president told everyone in our branch counsel that the branch would be receiving a real pearl...Deise. He´s already extended a calling (before her baptism!) and has challenged her to prepare for a mission...and she accepted! I really love the faith that she has and the willingness to do whatever God asks of her.

We´ve also been blessed with a surprise baptism! This past Saturday, one of the members in the branch approached me at an activity we had and told me that she wants her daughter to be baptized on her 9th birthday....which is this upcoming Saturday. Because her daughter is already turning 9 she needs to be taught all the discussions which means lots of bus rides to their neighborhood to teach her everything before Saturday. But it really is a blessing. I knew that God was preparing something wonderful after the terrible week we had 2 weeks ago.

Our goal is to baptize 4 people this transfer and we want to focus on finding a family to prepare. What´s hard about this city is that it´s a richer area. This means that everyone works, so knocking doors during the day doesn´t bring a lot of success. We spend more time inviting the house maids and babysitters to church than the actual families. But we can´t become discouraged because we don´t know who could be waiting behind the next door.

We´ve been teaching the mother who recently sent a son on a mission to São Paulo. She´s making great progress and is coming to church on her own and is bringing her grandchildren with her. It´s difficult to teach her in her house because there are always people coming and going, but I know that she needs to act with faith and the Lord will help her in making the right decision.

I´m greatful for the guidance of the Holy Ghost and as a missionary I´m learning to appreciate more this special gift. I know that I will always need his help. I always think...when I graduate from college...when I´m married in the temple...when I´m, when I´m, when I´m....but it´s the decisions that I´m making now that will help me achieve my future goals...Sis. Chipman asked me why I stopped doing theater and dancing and I simply explained that I had to make a choice. I couldn´t continue doing everything I loved; that I needed to set specific goals in my life and leave behind a few things. I know that what I want most in the world is to be a good wife and mother. ...so this past week I´ve been writing a list of all the things that I´m going to do with my talents in theater, dance, and music. The list is good :) A lot has to do with the way I raise my family and the way I can magnify my calling. I think of all the ways that I´m using my theater and music talents here in the mission...playing organ (who would have thought?) memorizing scriptures, teaching lessons creatively, being a missionary has EVERYTHING to do with theater! But I want to challenge all of you to 1. think of some decisions you´ve made or will make in your life that will require sacrifices 2. think of how you can use those sacrifices to bless the lives of others.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rough Week . . . . .Blessings in the End


The week started out brutal...and the attached photo pretty much somes up how our work went. The elders that left the area had 2 men they were teaching and were "ready" for baptism. We´ve been trying to get a hold of them since we´ve arrived in the city but they haven´t been to church once these past 5 weeks. Well...we found out this week that one of them is in prison for the next three years and the other has moved quickly without telling anyone where he moved to. We don´t know exactly what happened and the member that informed us, just told us to forget about them and move on to the next investigator. I was super frustrated by the situation because we´ve been focusing so much of our time and efforts in teaching and baptizing these 2 men. I vented a little to our district leader but he put a new light on the situation saying he was greatful that nothing happened to us. Three years in prison isn´t just a slap on the hand...so I´m greatful too that the Lord was watching out for us.

This week the rain POURED!!! I let one of the members borrow my umbrella one day and she lost it...meaning I was left with my broken umbrella. With the wind and the rain, the broken umbrella only broke more and I decided it was useless and went running through the streets of Patos in the pouring rain without an umbrella. Needless to say I was drenched head to toe and the house we were going to didn´t even have anyone home!

Some other things went wrong during the week...but in the end, the blessing came. Deise told us that she wanted to mark a baptismal date!!! She´s going to be baptized December 11 so please pray that everything goes well. It´s amazing how the Lord works.

When we asked her how she got her answer she said that she has been praying and felt a peace that it was right. She´s a girl full of questions, but she said that the church is the only church that´s been able to answer all of her doubts. She doesn´t feel confused when she studies the gospel. It´s so true that the church is here to bless our lives. The gosepl is simple, but it´s the only truth and that´s why it feels so good to study about it´s teachings.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Investigators

We’ve really been blessed with investigators that are excellent! Most of our investigators are member references, meaning that a member sent us to teach their friends or families. This is the best way to find people to teach because the investigators already have a support system and someone they can trust to answer their questions and to visit the church.


But with all these excellent investigators we’re having trouble getting them to commit to baptism. They are all waiting for lightning bolt experiences that will serve as an answer to their prayers, but I know that the Holy Ghost answers through more delicate answers. I’m learning more and more about the power of sharing testimonies, because people can be full of questions and doubts, but when I share my testimony, they can feel the truthfulness and feelings are things people can’t ignore.


We have two young men that are going to be interviewed Friday for baptism Saturday and confirmation Sunday. The problem is that they live super far away and because there are just men in their house, we can’t visit them at home. But we have a member that’s going to help us baptize these boys this Saturday and he’s offered to let us teach at his house (which is also on the other side of the city.)


The three sisters; Deise, Natane, and Nilzielle could be baptized, but Deise is going to be out of town this weekend and Natane and Nilzielle are still minors and can’t be baptized without their mom’s signature. Their mom said that she won’t sign until she visits the church, but she doesn’t want to visit…so we are in a tight situation. Please pray that everything can go well for these 3 girls and that they can be baptized together and before the end of the year.


I know that I’m here on the mission to preach the gospel of Christ and I know that the gospel of Christ includes all the blessings and ordinances of the church. Basically, I’m here to baptize. I know that it’s not an easy work, and that Satan is working just as hard as we are, but I also know that God is going to prepare a way that the people will listen and accept these messages.



We made chocolate chip cookies (they didn't turn out very good but brasilians don't know the difference, so they liked them) Me and Nilzielle!


With Irmã Nayara and 2 of her children (Amarilis and Brenda) Yes...we are a little crazy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Priesthood Power

So yesterday was a holiday here in Brasil...something about the declaration of the republic being signed or something like that. Well, brasilians love their holidays so they have lots of them and when they have one, everything shuts down. So basically our p-day got moved to today because non of the internet cafés were opened and neither were the grocery stores.

Last week we had our zone conference in Ubêrlandia (see the photos.) It was super great to be with other missionaries again. It´s hard being out in the middle of now where and knowing that the only other missionary in a 3 hour radius is my companion. But the fun part was that 7 of the 9 sisters in the mission are in our zone...everyone minus Rio Verde. This meant that we got to have a sleep over with all the sisters. 4 mattresses and 7 sisters led to a night of pretty much no sleep because of the lack of space, but we put all the mattresses together and had a giant sleep over! The next day we had our conference. I was really looking forward to the interviews with Pres. Prieto but because of the number of missionaries, we got put at the very end of the line. Our bus was leaving the next morning and the majority of the missionaries were going back to their areas the same day of the conference. Well...by the time our turn came around it was 9 pm and I was spent. The interview was short but good and Pres. Prieto complimented me on my leadership´skills. I´d been studying about the priesthood for a few weeks and last week felt that I needed a priesthood blessing. Because there is no better to give a blessing than the mission president, i asked for a blessing. I´m so greatful for the priesthood power and for the worthy men that hold this power. (read "the priesthood power" by Pres. Packer from his conference talk in 1996...it really helped me!)


The sisters in the zone Uberlandia (with the mission president's wife. . .Sister Prieto)
This photo has a funny sotyr. . .Borracharia - a place where you change your tires, oil, etc. Bolichi-bowling alley I switched the words and told an Irma that I wanted to find a Borracharia in the city so that on our p-day we could play there. . .



Lunch the day of conference the sisters get to eat first! PRIVILEDGED!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Address

How sisters give hugs to boys...with my recent convert Samuel (who was called last week to be the Young Men´s president!)
Some banana trees in Rio Verde that makes it look that I´m out in the middle of no where
Last p-day we decided to "liven" things up, so we visited the cities cemetery! Here in Brazil, they put houses over the graves of the people. Inside the houses they have pictures of the dead person and a few of that person´s personal objects. I thought of mom when we visited the graveyard and remembered the graveyards we visited during our vacations in Tennesse and Hawaii...good times. Hide and seek in the cemetery.


This week was super hectic to say the least...new area, new members, new investigators. Patos de Minas has super great potential and the first impression of the members is super great! What with our ridiculously large area, I´ve had to cut the area map in 4 parts so that it can fit in my bag :) We´re dividing up our week according to the suburbs we will be working.

We are getting to know the members little by little, but they are super excited to have sisters in the branch. It´s been over 7 years since they last had sisters and so there are members here that have never personally known sisters. The members are excited to help us with the work and are super willing to help us in general. We´ve gained about 5 new moms here in the area...irmãs that are willing to help us with anything we need. The thing that´s going to kill us are these hills that the city has! Up and up and up and up!

New Mailing address:
Sister Erika Riggs
Rua Patrocinio, 194
Santo Antonio
38700-364 Patos de Minas-MG
Brazil

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TRANSFER!!

So the long and awaited day finally arrived. Sunday after church, I got a phone call from the mission staff saying that Sis. Chipman and I need to pack our bags because we would be leaving Rio Verde bright and early the next morning. Well....we were transferred to...(drum roll) Patos de Minas. If you look on the mission map, it is the border city between our mission and the mission Belo Horizante. It´s a city that isn´t even in the state of Goiâs but is part of the state of Minas Gerais. It´s one of the farthest cities from the mission home and before us only had elders. Yup...we are opening an area to sisters!

Sunday night we had a goodbye get together with some of the members in the ward. Because it was so last minute we didn´t get to invite everyone I wanted, but I´ll be sending letters next week. Needless to say I cried and the members cried. After 8 months of seeing them almost everyday, they´ve become my family and Rio Verde has become my home away from home. I don´t think it´s sunk in yet that this could be goodby forever. I´m so greatful for the people I met in Rio Verde. Really one of the hardest but most rewarding 8 months of my life.

So yesterday we spent our time on the bus and because I get car sick writing or reading anything I spent over 12 hours sleeping. We spent the night in the Sisters´ house in Ubêrlandia and then caught a bus bright and early today. Another 3 hours of sleeping and we arrived in our new city and new home. From what I´ve seen and heard about the city, the people are super friendly and while it´s a smaller city, it has everything we need...including baptisms :) The food is supposedly great...but fattening. The city is pretty much a bowl which means lots of climbing up and down hills. This should help balance out the food problem :)

It´s going to be rough starting all over again and being lost in an area that I don´t know. But the members seem great and I´m excited to get to meet everyone this Sunday.

. . .the city is so far away from everyone and everything, . . . I don´t know our new address yet because the plaque with the street name isn´t in front of our house. We don´t get to participate in the weekly district meetings, because it´s a 3 hour bus ride to the meeting. So...we´ll just settle for calling in our numbers every night and eagerly wait for zone conference when we´ll be invited into the city.

(NOTE: Since it takes so long for items to get to Erika and I won't know her residential address for a while, I have mailed all of her Christmas packages to the mission home.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gratitude For The Power of Fasting

So transfers have happened for a few people and others are still waiting...I´m one of the waiting.anyone.

I´ve been fasting and praying a lot this week so I could know what I needed to do to help the Lord´s work move forward. We have a lot of investigators, but only a few of them are progressing and the majority of them aren´t coming to church. We pass by on average 5 houses every Sunday before church, but out of these 5 houses, only one person ends up coming with us. I know that both the Lord and Presidente Prieto are trusting in me to help train these 2 sisters and I´m working super hard to have results. We´ve made goals (personal and in our trio) every week and we´re teaching with boldness, but last week I was (what´s the word in English) discouraged. I decided to fast until I received the inspiration I needed. There was no lightning bolt moment, but while we were teaching one of our investigators (Poliana) about the tree of life vision (yes I used the cut outs you sent) I applied what I said. We all have times of trials (mists of darkness) and it doesn´t necessarily mean that we´re doing anything wrong; what it means is that we´re being tested to see if we will keep holding on to the iron rod. It takes faith to keep going even when you don´t know what´s coming up ahead. Anyone can just give up, but the Lord doesn´t bless just anyone; he blesses those that prove themselves worthy of the blessing. Well...I´ve just kept going this past week and our investigator Poliana scheduled her baptismal interview for this upcoming Friday! Please pray that everything goes smoothly with her interview and with her baptism which is scheduled for 3:30 saturday!

I´m greatful for the power of fasting. It really does bless our lives and the lives of others.

The work is still going and I still love Rio Verde. I feel like my time here in this city is coming to a close, but at the same time I feel like I could stay here forever. It doesn´t matter where I´m
serving, what matters is that I´m doing the Lord´s work. I really love being a missionary!


We made chocolate lollipops for the elders in our zone and wrote their names
on each lollipop. It's my new favorite treat to make. . .
chocolate lollipops.


From last week's hike. . . we filled our bottles in a little stream. . .
no worries because my water bottle has a filter!


So apparently coconut water hydrates super fast but
too bad it tastes like moldy water.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rescuing O-W-L


Today's p-day was full of adventures! First of all when we woke up there was an owl outside of our front door (first picture) we tried to scare it away, but realized pretty fast that something was wrong with her. She would fly only a few feet and then fall back to the ground. We decided that she was just a baby and that she fell from one of the trees that are neighboring our house....so we did a capture and release (film).
The first try was not successful...nor the 2nd. But the third time we managed to catch her using my mosquito net :) and we stuck her in a box. We called animal control but today is a holiday (dia das crian's...day of the children) and it turns out that it doesn't matter what your job is, everyone takes the day off. They told us that no one could come and pick her up until Wednesday. They gave us a plan B...send her to the animal shelter via Moto-taxi. Here they have taxis with cars and taxis with motorcycles. We decided to go with plan B, because we don't know how to take care of owls but on the way to the Moto-taxi station, we ran into a police car. We told them the situation and they agreed to take the owl to animal control for us. Let's just say that I lived out my dream of playing Crocodile Hunter today!

We also broke the day today by hiking to a church that's about 1 1/2 hours away from our house...

1 So to get to the top of the catholic church they have the custom that you need to climb on your knees to show repentance. There were 86 steps and we only stopped to take the picture on our knees :)

2 We made it! With the group that went with us.

3 Inside the little chapel...the religion of Brasil...but we´re working to change that :)

4 There was a little natural pool with this water fountain. The rest of our group went swimming...minus the missionaries who just wet our feet.

5 This is an area where you pay to go fishing...there were little man made lakes all next to eachother. We didn´t have time to go fishing so we just took some pictures.

This week we really got working...but Satan was working too. So many of our investigators weren't at home during the hour that we marked with them. We're struggling a bit to find the Lord's elect, but we know that they are out there.

. . . One of these golden couples is Wanderlucia and Jeronimo. Wanderlucia read the chapter we marked for her 3 times because she wanted to understand what was being taught. She told us that before she read each time, she started with a prayer so that the Holy Ghost could help her understand the chapter. She's started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and is already in Chapter 5 of 1st Nephi. This is huge because she struggles with reading and the Book of Mormon doesn't use language that's easy to understand. But she asked us questions about the chapters and all of them showed that she understood what was going on in the story.

Friday we found a 16 year old boy who had been talking to his older sisters how he wanted to start going to church again and how he wanted to be baptized. Thirty minutes later we showed up to teach his sisters a spur of the moment lesson...he listened and this past Sunday came to church. I'm greatful for the Holy Ghost and know that I need to pay more attention to his promptings. I'm so set on making and following plans that I'd getting caught up on doing things my way instead of the Lord's way. I know that it's a humbling experience that we're passing through here in Rio Verde.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

OBEDIENCE

Everyone who understands English better than Portuguese (the Americans) got to watch conference in an English only room...que chic!

I hope that everyone enjoyed conference weekend as much as I did!

My sisters and I have some great investigators...but Satan is working super hard to keep them from progressing. Between Sunday commitments and marriages that are too expensive to afford, our investigators are having trouble keeping their commitments so that they can be baptized. We marked with 11 investigators to bring them to church to watch a session of conference, but only one came through with her commitment. Needless to say, we were disappointed, but we know that perserverence is the key. We are going to be changing a few things in the way we work, and I know that trial and error will eventually bring success! This upcoming week we are going to be going on various splits with members (some less actives!) so that we can double our work and get more results...plus we´ll be fortifying the members. This will be good for each of us to take turns working with the members. Being in a trio is good, but nothing is better than a regular companionship with 2 people.


So elections took place yesterday and this is what the street looked like outside of one of the voting areas. The candidates pay people to throw advertisments with the numbers of the candidates. Sis. Silvera says that most people just pick up one of these papers before they enter the voting area and vote for whatever person is on the paper.


One of our investigators runs a gas company (all the ovens and stoves here run on gas). We helped her paint magnets that she gives to potential clients. On the magnets she writes the name of the company and the telephone number, so that the client can put the magnet on the fridge and have quick access to the phone number.


I decided to use the mosquito net! First time! I don´t know what it is but there are tons of bugs @ night all over the place! Our bunk bed is only for 2...so I sleep with my matress on the floor. I didn´t want to wake up in the middle of the night to something crawling on my, so I put up the net. But...the putting up part was interesting. I used our clothes rack as the base and balanced a broom handle over it. I attached the broom handle to the net so that it hung over my bed. It didn´t fall on me, so I consider it a success :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

35 New Investigators!!

So...we found the hippies and bought earings!

This week we found 35 new investigators (thanks to the family of 10 we found during the week...cousins, siblings, uncles, all living in the same house.) What we´re having to sort out is how to turn these new investigators into progressing investigators and eventually into baptisms. We as missionaries love the gospel and now we need to help others love the gospel too!

. . . We found some investigators this week that we feel will really progress well in the gospel! Two of our investigators that I started teaching with Sis. Santos are Polyana and Ana Paula. They are sisters that both work and study in the medical field. I´ve been visiting them once a week for over 2 months, but for some reason didn´t feel that we should stop visiting. Well...patience and listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost pay off! Last Sunday Polyana went to church and this Sunday Ana Paula came! They both want to attend the General Conference sessions next week! I know that the Holy Ghost will testify to them that the Thomas S. Monson and the other leaders in the church are called of God to lead the church.

I´m greatful the experiences that I´m having here in the field...and I´m constantly reminded that everything depends on obedience. Even if I don´t understand why I have to do something a specific way or why a certain rule is important, the thing that matters is that I put my faith in the rule of obedience...that when we obey we can receive the blessings!

I think I already told you this, but the members have a hard time with my name, so the majority of them call me Sister Sorriso, which translates into Sister Smile. It was perfect when we found a toothpaste brand with this name!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Wonderful Trio!!

I think you can imagine, but this week has been exhausting! I´m worried about my "novinhas", our investigators, our recent converts, our less actives, our weekly branch activities...wow! I´m learning a lot about prioritizing, always keeping things (especially my study desk) organized, and even things are rough keeping a smile on my face. Nobody wants to talk to a missionary that lets the stress show.

This past week Sis. Chipman and I went to pick up the newest sister in the mission...Sister Silvera! Pres. Prieto told us that we are going to be training the future leaders in the mission. A lot of the powerful missionaries are finishing up their missions and returning home...it´s time to get a new generation going. It´s a big responsablility, but I know that I´m up to the challenge!

I´m super impressed with the work of Sister Silvera. She has less than 1 week in the field, but she is hard worker! All I can say is that I was a little nervous to be the senior in a trio with 2 new sisters, but it´s proving to work out great! I love my sistas!

We had a bummer week in regards to numbers. Our golden investigator had to travel emergency out of the city and with general conference next week she now has to wait 3 more weeks before she can be baptized...gah!

One thing that I think is funny...when I first arrived in the field I HATED knocking on doors...but now, I LOVE it! You get to teach right then and there and you know exactly where your investigator lives. We spend a lot of time looking for the addresses of people only to find out that the address doesn´t exist, or they moved. It´s more effective for us to knock doors...so we´re going to be doing more door contacts!

My companions have such a great attitude about doing the Lord´s work and we get along really well! I´m really loving training and serving with such special sisters! I really do love this gospel and I love helping other people find the answers they are looking for. The gospel answers ALL the questions our investigators have and the Holy Ghost confirms that what we´re teaching is true.


Sis. Chipman had to fix her eyeglasses, so while
she was waiting, Sis. Silvera and I took advantage of
the situation. So stylish!


Where we spend most of our days--on the streets
of Rio Verde.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Novinha!!

An apartment complex named after Erika!!!!


I bet you´re just dying to know how transfers went. Well...like President Prieto said, I was suprised...and more than just a little. I got a phone call this morning from our Zone leader and he said that no one was going to be transfered from our zone. I´m staying in Rio Verde with Sister Chipman! He then added that Sis. Chipman and I need to catch a bus to Goiânia tomorrow so I can pick up my “novinha.” Yup... I´m going to be training again!!!! I was super suprised and still can´t believe it. This puts a TON of pressure on me because I´m going to be in the field with the 2 newest sisters in the mission. We´re going to be a trio instead of a companionship and I know I´m going to learn a lot. Just when I think that I´ve dealt with the hardest part of the mission (training an American) the Lord throws me a curveball and now I´m training an American and a novinha! I´m really greatful for the opportunities I´m having here on the mission to learn and grow and I know that I´m going to give it my all; President Prieto is really trusting in me to turn these sisters into powerful missionaries. It really is a little overwhelming, but I know with the Lord´s help I´ll be able to live up to the expectations of both President Prieto and Heavenly Father. (Keep me in your prayers!)

But I´m super excited to be staying in Rio Verde! We have a few people that are progressing SUPER well and for sure will be baptized this transfer. The members here are amazing and I love all of them! Sis. Silvera is going to love it here...oh my novinha is Sis. Silvera and I think she´s from São Paulo...we´ll find out quarta-feira (Wednesday).


This past Sunday we had 6 investigators at church. The best part was that 3 of them came on their own and the other 3 were brought by members. Nuria brought one of her friends that is deaf. But she had to leave after the sacrament was passed...which meant I was left to “interpret” for her friend. Ya. Maybe it´s a good thing that I talk a lot with my hands, and it´s even better that he knows how to read. I wrote down key phrases the speakers were saying and showed it to him. It was going pretty well until one speaker told a story about how geese fly in a “V.” How do you describe geese? I don´t know that word in Portuguese and I didn´t understand what word the speaker was using. Oh well. I think he got the gist of the talks and liked the fact that at least I was trying to help him out. But super great that Nuria is sharing the gospel with others!


Take note that I´m getting over my fear of bugs. After killing 5 cockroaches last week, I think I´m getting the hand of living in Brazil. I learned that you need to kill them on the first try...kill them before they run or fly, because they run/fly super fast


The girl in this photo is my twin. We were born on the same day in the same year! She got her mission call to Curitiba and is reporting the CTM this week. She liked my jumper (Note: Erika made her jumper) so much that she borrowed it and had an Irmã in the ward sew one for her...twinners!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Visit By Elder Godoy

This week is transfers and everything is up in the air. We have 2 baptisms marked for the weekend after transfers and I am hoping that I can stay long enough to see our 2 investigators baptized

Last week we had the priviledge...priveledge...privelidge (I´m forgetting english...all these words are suddenly super hard to spell)...last week we were blessed to listen to Elder Godoy. He´s a member of the first quorum of the 70 and is part of the presidency for the area of Brazil. He spoke about some of the changes that are happening in ALL the missions in the entire world. . . . that missionaries will be staying in their areas for longer periods of time. The average missionary will stay in one are anywhere from 6-8 months. I asked Pres. Prieto if this means I can stay one more transfer in Rio Verde and his response left me super curious. He said that there is going to be one sister arriving in the field, so there is going to be an odd number of sisters and that he has a surprise that I´m going to find out about before 15 de September. GAH!!! I´m not good with these kind of suspense/surprises!

The conference was great and I took a bunch of notes about what he said. I love listening to servants of the Lord speak, because you can feel the spirit testify about everything they say. During the meeting I was the music director. They originally asked me to play the piano...but I quickly shot that idea down, and they settled to let me conduct.

We had lunch after the conference and then they announced that there were going to be a few missionaries who would be interviewed. They called my name and the name of my zone leader. I thought...yes! I can ask Pres. Prieto more about this surprise he´s preparing...but I was surprised when I entered the room to be interviewed and there was Elder Godoy!

Water balloons on Preparation Day


Cristus at the bus stop

Monday, August 30, 2010

Regina and Cristiani


Saturday night we were on our way to teach our investigator, Cristiani. She´s progressing SUPER well and accepted baptism for 18th of September. Well...we were walking to her house when we found her getting a pedicure in the front area of her friend´s house. We stopped by to see what time she would be finishing up and the manicurist said. "I´ve been to every church here in Rio Verde except for yours. Tomorrow I´m going to go to your church." It was completely unexpected, especially since Sis. Judd and I taught her the first discussion way back in March. She wasn´t interested, so we didn´t continue visiting her. Her house is in the middle of our area, so we pass by it almost every day. She works from home as a manicurist and everytime we pass by, we say hello. Six months after we taught her the first discussion, she´s decided she wants to visit the church. And yesterday, she went! She even brought her 3 children with her!

We stopped by her house (her name is Regina) after church to see if she had any questions and she said that after visiting every church, she´s finally found the one she wants to stay in! She loves the fact that the church is all about serving others because she loves serving others. She says that we are an inspiration to her because we are young, but willingly gave up our lives to serve here as missionaries. So...we are going to start teaching her and I´m excited to see what the result will be.

videoHarvesting Jabuticaba

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Witorya, Nuria's Daughter

This week we had a baptism! Witorya (Nuria´s daughter) turned 8 last month and since Nuria is a recent convert, Witorya counts as the mission´s baptism...meaning we had to teach her the lessons. . . . One day I will have a baptism where everything goes smoothly. Nuria and Witorya decided to ask José to perform the baptism (my recent convert and Nuria´s friend). Well I made the mistake thinking that because she was shorter she needed less water in the baptismal font...big mistake. Between the lower water level and José´s nerves, Witorya was dunked 3 times each time more unsuccessful than the other. So...Witorya was in the font crying becuase the water was cold, the branch president was at the front of the font trying to give José advice on how to baptize, Nuria was at the front of the font scolding Witorya for not keeping her feet under the water, Sis. Chipman had no idea what was going on, the elder´s were trying not to laugh and I was behind the font with my head buried in Witorya´s towel not believing this was actually happening. Well...it was finally decided that E. Morais would baptizer her. He has more experience and promised to baptizer her quickly. As soon has he said amen, he put her under the water before she had time to worry about the temperature of the water. Wow...baptisms are a lot of work! As soon as she came out of the water she was all smiles and joking...oh I love how quickly kids get over things!

We also had zone conference this week, which meant interviews! Pres. Prieto gave Sis. Chipman the challenge to speak Portuguese fluently by the next zone conference (25 days from today). Well he told me that if she wasn´t fluent, the fault would be on my shoulders...talk about pressure! I´m trying my best to help her and she´s doing really well at memorizing the verb conjugations. . .

So this week...my birthday was fun. The elder´s planned a "surprise" party with the brownies that mom sent me. They planned it @ Nuria´s house and even sang to me in English! Well, here in Brazil, they don´t have brownies, so they weren´t really sure how to make them...plus the directions on the package were in English. Nuria stuck the brownies in the oven and waited for them to rise...brownies don´t rise...so they burned rock hard. They hurridly bought some cake mix and threw it together almost in time for me to walk in. Oh I love these people so much!

Hahaha...this story happened today. We had lunch at an investigator´s house (the elder´s are teaching them) and they fried fish for us. This is one of the fish heads, complete with eye balls and teeth. Well...they challenged me to eat a fish head, and since I´m always asking for adventures, I accepted. Everything was going well until I pulled a piece of meat back and the eyeball started to pop out...then I started to feel sick. I´m not going to be eating fish for a while.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

22 And Still Learning!!!



So this email is special because it´s the first one I´m sending with 22 years! Today´s been a pretty much normal p-day other than the fact that I opened presents this morning after our study time. I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE the banner and the photos! What a clever idea mom! It´s a lot of fun to see everyone´s faces again and to know that even though I´m far away, I´m not forgotten. I don´t feel any older than one year ago, but boy do I feel smarter. I´ve learned more here in the past 9 months than the past 5 years and I know that it´s only going to get better. It´s funny because before the mission I thought I was mature…hahaha! Now I´m realizing just how much more growing up I needed to do

This past week was super successful number wise. We found 21 new investigators…that´s huge! We found a few families to teach which is super special.

Yesterday I gave my first talk in Portuguese! My topic…missionary work (surprise). I focused on new converts and less active members and how we as members of the church have the responsibility to care for one another (Mosiah 18). We´ve been visiting some less active members and this past Sunday an elderly couple came to church…the first time in almost a year. This gospel really is full of promises and blessings and this is what missionary work is all about…helping people live worthy of these blessings.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Maos que ajudam"

Erika has a new companion. She went to the mission home to get her. She says of Sister Chipman:

"She´s excited to baptize and has a deep love for the gospel and I know that this is going to make all the difference in our work here in Rio Verde. "


Service Opportunities:

"The church has a program here in Brazil known as “Mãos que ajudam” (Hands that Help). It´s an opportunity for the members to do a service project for the community. Our district here in Rio Verde cleaned a park…which meant we cleaned a soccer court and painted over graffiti. I painted and was super lucky that the paint they used washes out because I got paint on my skirt and camera bag. Yesterday we helped Nuria (my recent convert) with the birthday party she had planned for her 2 youngest children: Witorya and Witor Hugo. I love Nuria soooooooooooo much and admire the strength and determination she has. The elders, the sisters and one of Nuria´s friends from beauty school moved furniture, washed dishes, made food, set up decorations, cleaned floors and got everything ready. I´m trying super hard to get Nuria to love the gospel more than the missionaries because I know it will be super rough for her when I get transferred.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Companion

So just to let you know…I´ll be staying in Rio Verde for @ least one more transfer. The branch president joked that he´s going to request my membership records because I´ve officially broken the record for a missionary that´s stayed in this branch the longest. 5 transfers=7 ½ months!

So just to let you know…I´m going to be training a “novinha” this transfer! Yup! I was more than just a little surprised. I´m going to train Sis. Chipman who is from Utah (I think) and is tall and blonde (I think). The thing is no one really knows much about her and I still haven´t met her. I´m going to meet her today so I´ll be sure to take lots of pictures to send to you. Please pray that I can take good care of her and that we can have success in our area.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Temple Blessings

Yummy lunch by Elder Morias dos Santos!

This past week our district here in Rio Verde (the smaller version of a stake) took a bus to the temple in Campinas, São Paulo. The members that went were super excited to go to the temple and it makes me greatful for the fact that I´ve always lived close to a temple. I´ve never had to to wait 6 months to drive 11 hours to go to the temple. For the members here, going to the temple in Campinas is both a sacrifice and a wonderful blessing. The members were so excited they brought back “temple hour” cards for the missionaries. I really miss going to the temple weekly and I know that I´m going to appreciate it more when I come home.

In case you haven´t noticed, there´s been a shortage of baptismal announcements this month. In fact, Sis. Santos and I haven´t had a baptism since the last transfer...this is my first month without a baptism and I don´t like the feeling. So we´ve put into practice a miracle maker that tests our faith. We wrote a list of blessings we wanted, what we were going to do to achieve these blessings, what Heavenly Father needs to do to help us and what sacrifices we were going to make. Well...we found a man, Reilson, who accepted a baptismal date when he made a street contact with him. He came to church with us this Sunday, but due to a misunderstanding left after the quorum´s meeting. We knew he left but we weren´t sure for where. Sis. Santos wasn´t too thrilled with me when I said that we were going to go after him, but I was determined, so we left church to walk to his house. I was fasting that day and praying super hard that we would be able to have a baptism the next Sunday (the last Sunday of the transfer). I wasn´t about to let our only chance slip by without doing everything I could . . . My prayers were answered when we found Reilson at home. . . This story's not over and I know that we have got a week long battle ahead of us, but I´m going to do my part and more so that I can be worthy of the blessing of a baptism.

Christian Graffiti


Horse drawn carriage. This cart picks up tree limbs
that other workers cut down while cleaning the
city. He took us for a short ride around the block.