Clarification from last weeks letter and trip to the beach - Being blessed by a man at the beach... he got down on his knees and started praising me until Sister Custódio told him to get up haha. Só isso.
Tell Kayla and Justie Happy Birthday for me, and Katie CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Que legal! She´s going to be excellent there! Awww and the Ringgers, send them hugs and kisses from Sister Ball. Miss them!
To be honest, saying goodbye to Sister Custódio and Sister Ferreira was incredibly hard. And don´t tell anyone (even though you´re going to post this on my blog haha it´s all good), but I still cry sometimes thinking about them. It´s just hard to think that the four of us will most likely never be together again the way we were here in Aracajú. We were a family! Now, Sister Ferreira is far away in Maceió and Sister Custódio is nearby, still in Sergipe so I´ll see her at zone conference. I miss them so much! BUT, our new companions are wonderful as well! Sister Barratt is my new companion. She´s from Texas, is absolutely gorgeous, and has four months in the mission... one transfer more than me. And somehow we still get by with our Português! She´s teaching me so much. She´s proof that sharing this gospel is incredibly possible even if we aren´t fluent in this language. We´re seeing lots of little miracles happen daily. Oh and Sister Barratt, Sister Barker and Sister Castro (Sis. Barker´s new companion... love her!) all say hello!... ou oi! So this week, we spent hours upon hours just knocking doors. And many of those hours were spent being rejected. But the other hours were spent meeting people who were truly prepared to receive us by the Lord. We met Giselda who has friends that are members. She´s a pretty strong Catholic, but nossa, she was so open and incredibly friendly! She offered the prayer before we left, blessing every single aspect of our lives, up to our future husbands. So, my future husband can thank her for any luck he has from here on out. We also spent a day proselyting with Bruna which went really well... she´s probably reading this on my blog, so Bruna, thank you so much! Our ward missionaries are all awesome. And Bruna is always willing to help with her wonderful testimony. A missionary also returned from his mission this last week, so we got to have FHE with him and his family (the same family we spent Christmas with). They made a video of his mission that made me think of how it will be when I come home. I´m super excited, but it will definitely be different after spending a year and a half in the mission. And with transfers, not only did I get a new companion, but also letters! And a box from Nana and Pops! Ahhhh thank you, thank you, thank you! I got letters from the Fagans, Aunt Sherene, Aunt Michelle, Uncle Mark, Jess, Kayla Fagan, Justie, Sister Wiser, Sister Cummings, Sister R. Santos, Sister Flórez, Sister Almeida, Sister Flor, Sister Oliveira Souza and a cute postcard from the fam. Thank you everyone! I was so stinkin´ happy to hear from all of you. I love you all so much! I love this work and I love our Heavenly Father and Brother, Jesus Christ. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is His work. If it wasn´t, what I´m doing now would be impossible. But I know that because this is His work, I´m seeing miracles unfold before my eyes. Thank you for all your support and love. Always praying for you! And hurrah for Israel!
Sister Custódio was doing a lot better this week physically! Emotionally though, all four of us were a bit drained because tomorrow we have transfers. And last night, we found out that while Sister Barker and I are staying together in Aracajú (we´ll get our new companions tomorrow), Sister Ferreira is heading for Maceió and Sister Custódio is staying in Sergipe but not here in our área. It will be interesting to see who our new companions are. Pray for us! This week was full of experiences! I don´t have much time, but I´ll try to fit in what I can. On P-Day, we all went to the Orla finally! There, I got worshipped by a homeless man and rode on the most packed ônibus ever in my life. Each time the doors opened, I had to rotate with them to make it possible for them to open without me falling out! It was so fun! We took lots of pictures, ate at a cute pastry restaurant and enjoyed our time together. We also met a woman this week who, when I introduced ourselves, left without a word and came back to her front door with her key to the gate. She let us in immediately and gladly accepted our message. Still no baptism date, but we´ll get there. Next week, we´ll be baptizing a man who´s partially blind. He loves the gospel and knows with all his heart that it´s true. It´s people like him that give me more hope! This past Tuesday night, we had a ward mission movie night. One of our new members was there along with this crazy man who showed up one day at the church and almost punched an irmão because he was so furious about our churches beliefs... or what he thought were our beliefs. Anyways, he´s crazy. Our friend was watching the movie on the opposite side of the room from us and the crazy man showed up, sat behind him and started whispering in his ear. Sister Custódio ran over to greet our friend and when she arrived, the crazy man asked why he couldn´t manage to be near her and left immediately. How cool! This showed me that we really do have power as missionaries. We have the Spirit who won´t allow any harm to come upon us or our investigators if we act in faith and with courage. After teaching an investigator one day, I felt a bit frustrated because I wasn´t able to say all I wanted to because of the language barrier. I expressed my frustration to Sister Custódio and she said to me that I didn´t need to feel that way. That what she noticed is I said exactly what our investigator needed to hear--that what I shared was everything she needed. Since then, I´ve changed my way of thinking a bit and am grateful that I know how to express what people need to hear. This week, we also had splits with our sister trainers. I spent a day in Eduardo Gomes with Sister Baldomir. We had great experiences and found some elects.! We also ate in the house of an American member for lunch, but he wasn´t home. His wife was super nice though!
This weekend, Sister Barker and Sister Ferreira had a baptism! I got to give the message and it was so good to see one more person enter those waters! The Spirit was present for sure. I´m going to miss Sister Ferreira and Sister Custódio so much. Seeing them say goodbye to so many people yesterday was difficult. They´re incredible missionaries. I´m grateful for what I´ve learned with them! But I´m also anxious to meet my new companion. Hopefully we can work together well and continue to see miracles. I love this work, I love our Savior and I love you! Happy Birthday Jason B. and Deanna! I hope you enjoyed your special days! Fique firme e boa semana! Hurrah for Israel!
Rio Janeiro, a street/railroad tracks in our area that we walk along every day
Eating acarejé, a special Brazilian food that smells horrible but tastes delicious!!! A sweet member in our ward dropped it off for us to experiment
**Some of Bri's letters are a bit choppy thanks to me editing out certain parts that are meant for my eyes only, or would just be plain boring for you all to read because she answers my hundreds of mom questions! **
Christmas gifts from Sis. Barker's dad!
Being missionaries in the Best Mission Ever!
At the CTM
At the CTM
The Sergipe River
With Sis. de Souza at the CTM
My health is great! Tell the Meyers ladies congrats for me! Nossa! The lessons are going well. There are still times when I don´t understand everything our investigators say, but I´m able to teach and the Spirit is always there for them if nothing else. My conversation is doing well too. I have so much to improve and sometimes, it´s still frustrating, but I´ve realized how much better I´m doing compared to when I first got here. Sister Custódio´s english is great! We study every day and hopefully she´ll be able to remember everything once we part ways :).
This week went really well! Well, there was one downfall--Sister Custódio was pretty sick the entire week, but somehow we managed to meet all our goals and had really good experiences. For our training, I played the role of senior companion, teaching all the lessons (Sister Custódio said she would only testify), being in charge of planning, making phone calls... at first, it was a bit intimidating, but it went really well! The best part... we had a baptism!!! This week, we baptized V. We met him a couple weeks ago and he was really interesting. He accepted to be baptized but I don´t think he expected us to actually follow through. But between then and now, we saw him progress more and more. He became more open and sincerely interested in our discussions. He began asking genuine questions and listening for the answer. And when Saturday came around and we met up with him at the church for his baptism, he was glowing and so excited! The spirit during his baptism was so special and it was great seeing another wonderful person take the first step towards their salvation!
Earlier in the week, we also had interviews with Presidente Gonzaga. It was so good getting to spend time with him and Sister Gonzaga. I´m going to really miss them when they end their mission later this year... they showed us a picture of our new president and his wife--soon-to-be Presidente e Sister Gomes. They look really nice! The morning of our interviews, Sister Custódio and I met up with Presidente and Sister at the chapel to open it for them and help them get organized. As Presidente was trying to unlock the building, he removed the key from the lock and simply stated, "Quebrou." "It broke." We all laughed, not knowing what to do! So Sister Custódio and I were sent off on a quest to find someone who could help us. We ran to the nearest locksmith we could find and had success with the second one we found. He followed us back to the church and 60 reais and half an hour later, the building was opened. Our interviews went really well and it was fun getting to bond with Sister Gonzaga while waiting and then with Presidente during the interview. We had lots of laughs! Presidente said that he could tell I was sincerely happy which meant that I was also obedient and doing my part as a missionary. Woohoo! The best part is, I really am happy here. Being a missionary is such a blessing! Another great part about our interviews was... we got letters! I was so happy to see letters from the Geddes´, the Priebes, Howards, Thompsons, Kelly family, Nana and Pops, Nana and Pops Smidt, KateLyn!, Sister Ropke, Sister Conceição, Grand Dad and the family. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Once again, I can´t tell you the magic that comes with receiving letters as a missionaries. It´s so great!
So that was pretty much my week. Sister Custódio and I worked hard at finding new people to teach and had some success. We´re excited to re-visit some new investigators this week and are hoping for more baptisms this Saturday. I know we´ll have some! On Wednesday, we also had a zone meeting where we had a great mini lesson about the Brother of Jared and his faith. Our zone leaders talked about how with each stone that the Lord touched, the Brother´s of Jared faith grew stronger and stronger. In order for the Lord to give light to the next stone, his faith HAD to be stronger. They compared this to our baptisms and I can really feel my faith increasing as the Lord touches the hearts of our investigators one by one--as we have baptisms one by one. My faith here in the mission has increased so much! And I still have so much more to gain which I look forward too! Thank you for your continuous love and support. As always, I´m praying for you! Have a beautiful week!
This week was a bit like last week--difficult to get work done, but good nonetheless. One thing that I´m amazed by is how fast time is flying! At the same time it feels as if I´ve been in the mission forever, as if life before the mission was only a dream, but it´s also crazy to think I´m already coming up on my next transfer, January 22nd! I´m not too excited for it... if I don´t leave this amazing area, chances are I´ll be parting ways with my lovely companion since my training will be over. Either way, there will probably be tears. :) Another thing that has amazed me--I´m getting cold at night! That´s not possible here in Aracajú. But I guess miracles happen! During the day is a different story, but the nights are actually a bit pleasant! Maybe I spoke too soon...
As hopefully everyone knows, this past week was New Years. HAPPY 2014! I still can´t believe that 2013 is over and that we´re already 6 days into 2014. Time really is flying. For New Year´s Eve, we spent it at the Lima´s home with Janilson, our newest member of the ward (lies, Sister Barker and Sister Ferreira baptized this last weekend) and it was wonderful as always. We conversed and ate and laughed. We missionaries had to be home by 10:30 so we went home and fell asleep until five minutes before midnight when fireworks started going off. We all watched them from our window and had a little fiesta when the clock striked midnight. 2014! I´ve made some goals that I know will help me become a better missionary and disciple of the Lord. And I have an entire year in the mission to work on these goals!
On Friday, we went tracting with Bruna which went really well. None of the people we planned on visiting were home, but we managed to find the rest of our pesquisadores out and about in the streets. Another proof that the Lord always provides a way. One pesquisador we visited was Rafaela. We´ve been trying to get her to pray about baptism and this week, we left a Book of Mormon with her and invited her to read 1 Nefi 8. So we visited her the next day with Bruna and, even though she was in the process of leaving her house, she confidently told us that she had prayed and read and was happy to say that she wants to be baptized. What a miracle! She wasn´t able to be baptized this last weekend, but she came to church and is excited for this coming weekend. At church, seven of our investigators showed up which was another miracle. Getting one person to attend church is nearly impossible, so we were pretty happy to have seven there! I know that our fasts and prayers had a part in this. And the Lord graciously blessed us! As for everything else, the work is slowly progressing. We´re making lots of good goals between us as a companionship, our 'roommates' and the ward. I´m excited to see how the work of salvation will progress within the coming weeks. I know that the Lord is mindful of His people here and is anxious to have them be blessed with the gospel in their lives. I love this work! I´m so happy to be a part of it! My prayers and love are constantly with all of you and you´re in my thoughts. Keep the faith and fique firme! Hurrah for Israel!
-Making brownies with Bruna! She loves BYU, as you can see by her shirt, and is ready for dorm-living now that she knows how to make brownies :)
Carrying Sister Custódio one day after she wasn´t feeling too well :)
With some of our investigators while they were playing fort