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.