Monday, March 26, 2012

Week Twenty Five.

Hello there everybody,

Well things here in Brazil are pretty much the same, hot, a lot of sun, teaching and converting people to the gospel. Nothing that eventful happened this week. In fact I don’t really remembered what really happened. If feels like yesterday I sent out an email to the family. The weeks here are starting to feel like days. It is pretty crazy. In three days I will reach 6 months on my mission. I can not believe how fast time flies by. It feels like yesterday I arrived in Brazil, and here I am with less then a year of my mission, and I have so much I want to do here. So many more people I need to teach and bring to the gospel. The work of a missionary is never done. It was a bit interesting this week almost every day we returned home and looked at our numbers we were always satisfied but always thought that we could do better, teach more, and find more people. But we are trying with all our strength. I am learning so much with Sister Corrêa she really is an amazing companion, I am blessed to have her. We are able to learn so much together.

This week we were able to start teaching 3 new kids this week that have a strong desire to find a church. Two are sisters, and one is a friend of our last baptism. The two sisters we only started teaching Saturday, but they came to church on Sunday. But it was a miracle because when we went and picked them up for church their dad really wanted to go too, but he had to work, but he promised us that he would come the next week. They really are two special girls. We are also teaching a family and they are all really amazing, but they can’t come to church yet. He suffered an assault and got shot 6 times. A bullet is his spinal cord, or near there somewhere. So it really is a miracle he can even walk. But he is recovering from the surgery and has problems walking. But just in the little while that we have been teaching him we have seen such improvement, and know that he is a miracle. So we invited him to be baptized. He said once he is better and can walk, and visit the church he will. Some of the people have such faith in us. Of course there are those that don’t. We also invited someone else this week to be baptized, because in the mission here, they encourage us to invite people to be baptized in the first lesson, well we did in the second lesson, came back later that week, and she told us that it would be better if we visited other people. After that is was super awkward. Everyone has their agency. For the most part everyone here has a lot of faith in us and our message, but just is afraid of commitment sometimes.

This week we were able to have lunch at Brother Laos’s house. He worked translating for apostles for many years, and knows so much doctrine. Any questions we every have we always ask him. He is also the one who knows English. On our way back from his house we stopped by one of his neighbors who grows flowers for weddings. Wow they have a ton of flowers, it was very pretty.  They also live on a hill over looking the valley. But they then gave us a bunch of fruit to take home. It was the first time that we have ever met them. So  we returned to our house with a bunch of mangos, bananas, and a fruit similar to a cherry. People this week have all wanted to give us food and feed us. Many times it is then hard to walk home after eating. Here part of the culture is you have to dish up seconds. They think if you don’t repeat you don’t like the food. But sometimes they put so much food on your plate the first time, you can’t eat any more. But I am slowly learning how to cook all the food here. Sister Corrêa says I cook rice better then most Brazilians now. So I got the rice part, haha. But I am starting to tell that I am going to miss rice and beans when I go home. I am starting to appreciate every aspect of the culture here more and more.

I truly love my mission, and love this opportunity I have to serve the Lord.

-Sister Rebecca Nelson

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week Twenty Four.

March 19, 2012

Hello there everybody!!

So this week was a bit different, but good all the same. This week we had a baptism! His name is Mailson! He is 12 years old. He is the cousin of my last baptism. He has wanted to be baptized for a bit of time now. We were able to talk to his mom and teach him all the lessons. We taught him super fast. This week we taught him two lessons in one visit, because we needed to teach him before he was baptized. It was the first baptism where I was the senior companion, so I was a bit stressed out trying to find people to help and get everything in order. But he was super excited. The problem is he didn’t show up to church on Sunday, so he didn’t receive the Holy Ghost, sooo.... it wasn’t complete,,,, yet. We will talk to him tonight. So stay tuned to see what happens. With his baptism we had the opposite problem with the baptismal font. Instead of it not draining, we couldn’t find the plug. So we were trying to find things in the chapel that would work as a plug. We finally resorted to a wadded up sponge in a plastic sack. The thing was it was really small, so when I had to pull the plug I had to go all the way into the font and reach down and get it. That was just this morning.

This week we also had interviews with the president. We went to Caruaru (an hour away) again, for our interviews. We got a car to go there, but the driver squished us 4 into the back seat, so Sister Kikuchi was practically in the front seat. We got there and had training with the president, about a mission project in this state, where we will start working more on reactivating less active members, so we were pretty excited, it was a lot of information. Afterwards we had our interviews with the president. The interviews with him are always very fast and to the point. But I like them. It was a bit intimidating because he was at a small table in the way back of this huge room. So it was a long walk silent walk to and from the table. Afterwards the President bought us all pizza! So we all ate lunch together.

This week was a bit interesting because at the beginning of the week we were working very hard, and were getting a lot of lessons in, and our numbers were looking great. Then the last three days we have had meetings almost all day. So there went our numbers. But it is all good. We had a baptism and have seen progress finally in our area.

We continue working hard and learning lots together.

Sister Rebecca Nelson

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Week Twenty Three.

Hello There everyone,

Another week has passed by, can you believe it? Sometimes the days here are very long and very tiring, but the weeks always seem to fly by. This week was another hard week. With the hot sun beating down on us and having to walk to what seemed like the end of Gravatá with no water, we were just barely putting one foot in front of the other and sometimes did not find people in their houses to give anyone their scheduled lesson. Our weeks seem hard at times, but this week has been a week of miracles also.

Yesterday we were out walking trying to find a reference after lunch that was way at the end of town. We didn’t really know where we were going, and we were just talking and kept walking. We finally stopped in front of a restaurant, which by the way was way past the person we were trying to find, and realized that we had been trying to find this restaurant for the past two weeks.  We had made a contact with someone who said they lived by the restaurant. Well the addresses here, are super great sometimes, you don’t know what street is what and people just tell you “I’m just across from this place and you go a little ways down and I live on the first floor.” Well.... I’m sure you can imagine how easy it is to find houses here sometimes. So we were at the restaurant, and now all we had was the number of the house. So I happened to pick a street and we started walking. We saw that the numbers were close (and oh sometimes the numbers here jump twenty and then go back down and then repeat, which I don’t understand) and then the houses didn’t have any numbers. So we picked one of the houses that didn’t have a number, clapped our hands (you don’t ring door bells, you clap your hands loud and shout the persons name), and the lady we had made the contact with answered the door, and was very happy to see us! During the lesson she was crying, she didn’t tell us why, and we didn’t want to pry too much, so we asked if we could visit her again, she said “Of course, please!”  We then left and knew that the spirit there was with her, to testify of our message. We will see what happens... but we were led by the spirit to bring her a message in a time of need.

We also started teaching another family, a set of grandparents, a mother, father, and son. They are an amazing family! The grandpa says the funniest random things though, Everyone starts laughing when he talks. The father is recovering from a really bad surgery, and can barely walk. Just in this last week we have seen so much improvement in his ability to walk, and we all know it is a miracle. We gave them a Book of Mormon, then we returned later that week, and the father was already in Jacob! It is crazy to see how fast these people embrace the true word of God.

Another person that we visit, she is so very strong and wants to get baptized so bad, but the man she lives with doesn’t want to get married. But wow, she has such a strong testimony. When she talks and bears her testimony it strengthens mine.

Some of you have been asking me about my language... well it’s hard for me to judge, because I tend to be a perfectionist at things.  I have come to find a mission is far from perfection, you are always stumbling along learning new ways to do new things with the help of the Lord. I don’t know if I’ll ever really say that I am fluent, but... almost. As far as my understanding, it depends on who I talk to. but that goes for my Brazilian companions too (sometimes they don’t understand the accents here). For the most part I understand everything that my companions and other missionaries here say.  For the people here, I usually understand most everything. But for my speaking I can express everything and I am just talking without having to translate things in my head. Just talking, my thoughts are transitioning over to Portuguese too. My problem when I got here was that I spoke very slowly, but because I naturally speak a bit fast and I am now completely comfortable speaking people.  Sometimes they say that I speak a bit fast at times. I also think sometimes I am just excited to talk to the people and want to share my message, so I talk faster, but I do feel I am almost fluent. I of course don’t know all the words, so sometimes when people talk about food or other categories where I don’t know a lot of words I am sometimes lost. Usually when people are talking, and I don't know the word, I can usually understand the significance from the context, but I find I need to hear the word a lot more before I start using it in my own vocabulary. My companion is helping me a lot. I tell her that when ever I say something wrong correct me. So some of my conjugations where I have become lazy she helps me, and she has also has been helping me with my accent too. I want to really learn this language inside and out. The problem I sometimes have is with reading, especially reading the scriptures and writing. So we have been working on that these past weeks, and it has gotten a lot better.

But this is my life in Brazil on my mission, and even though times are hard, I live to see the miracles that happen here and the way our message changes the hearts of the people.

Sister Rebecca Nelson

Monday, March 5, 2012

Week Twenty Two.

Hello Everyone!!                                                                      Gravata  March 5, 2012

I finished my second week of training, and oh my have I learned so much in this short little time. Every minute of your mission you learn so much, it is crazy how much you learn. I have learned this week how to be a better missionary, to work every single minute I possible can, how to truly love my companion, so much more about the gospel, and best of all my language. I have only been with Sister Corrêa for 2 weeks, but she says that already she had seen improvement in my Portuguese, there are only a few things with my pronunciation, but she says I am pretty much fluent. I still have doubts. But I do pretty much understand everything that everyone says to me, some of the people with their accents here I have problems with still, but my companion can’t understand them either. 

Our area was really progressing when Sister Corrêa came here, and that’s what I think I had the most problems with, was what to do. So we have been doing a ton of contacts. and have started teaching some new people, even new families. We have been working very hard every day to try and teach people. This week the sun has also been super hot and super strong, so we have been exhausted when we come home and fall right asleep. 

Sister Corrêa is amazing and she helps me so much. Me being new, I don’t know what to do some of the time, but she is great and has a very good work ethic too. But throughout this week we have been learning together. Stumbling along the way, but growing firmer in every step that we take. Its interesting because she has a good knowledge of the Bible, where I don’t so much, and I have a better understand of the Book of Mormon, because she is a convert of just 1 year and 8 months. So we help each other learn more. I have also started teaching her English, because she really wants to know, she already had a good basis. But I have been helping her. So at night now we only speak English. But I have found that it is really hard for me to speak English now. I am forgetting words and how to say some words, and even some of the grammar. It’s usually speaking that I have the problem with. But it is very interesting this transition between languages. 

So this week something historic happened. WE are now part of a new stake! The stake of Caruaru! It is pretty exciting. So we all, both the wards here, hopped on a bus for Caruaru, about an hour away, for the formation of our stake. The bus was hot and muggy, just as you can imagine, but it was worth it. 

This week in our apartment we have encountered, I think 6 cockroaches!!! That’s the most in the whole time I have been here. We all don’t like killing them and are really scared, so we took turns. So I killed my first coach roach this week. Boy did I smash it. The other sisters came home saw that is was smeared all over the floor, and asked what it did to me, haha. But the most exciting one was where one flew in the window past my head and then right in front of two other sisters studying, we were all running around screaming. The other exciting one was in our dresser. It has a door that opens with shelves, and it was in one of the shelves. WE were trying to kill it with our smashing all of Sister Corrês things. 

This week I also had my first encounters with people gawking over me, because I was an American. A lady this week wanted me to bring her home in my suitcase and said that I should act in movies here. One yesterday first thought I was Italian. But they all wanted to kiss me and shake my hand and to talk to me. They kept saying I can't believe an American is here, right in front of me. Oh my goodness, I was so embarrassed after that. 

But these weeks have been exciting and I have learned a lot. I always trust in the Lord. I hope everything is good for everyone else.

Sister Rebecca Nelson