Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Week 17: Office Rat, Jail Bird, etc...


July 7, 2014

Hello family!! I am SOOO happy right now. I got all of your loving emails, all of the support and everything I needed to hear today and it made me so happy to know that I am not alone... well I already knew that but the reassurance is just amazing!!

So y'all know how my week was since I talked to you guys on Thursday. It was SO great to hear you guys and to get that motivation to keep going, well lemme tell you about what I learned while spending my time "working" in the mission office this weekend:

I'm not made for the office. It's a dull, beige place where your dreams are shattered. Not that I am complaining, I helped Sister Davis a LOT! We got at least 3 weeks of work done in two days and she ended up being caught up with everything! It made me happy to see her relieved. She said "God sent you to the office to help me, I am so thankful for your help!" And it made me feel GREAT to know that I was able to lift her burdens... but my mission wasn't made for office work. It was like the Garden of Eden if you will... a place where I felt no joy nor sorrows, I felt like I was in LIMBOOO. It was fun being with Elder and Sister Davis though, also the Executive Secretary AND Financial dude. It was like a mini-vacation with my mission grandparents and brothers. But I didn't have the same joys that the mission field brings. I longed to find people to teach, to contact... and I leaped at every contact opportunity I could when we went out. 

Also, the Davises were AMAZING! I helped Sister Davis cook dinner at home. Friday night I taught her how to make mom's rice (with some shredded carrots in there) and it turned out to be the best rice dish I made to date. SO GOOD! We also made some chicken wings with curry. YUM! Also, a branch leader came in the office on Friday and asked the Davises to give a talk on Sunday night for their fireside... problem is that Sister Davis doesn't speak a lick of Portuguese. So I offered right away to be her translator. It made her burden much lighter and she seemed really happy to have me translate her talk. She isn't a person who is good with words (so she says) but her talk was great. 

Saturday afternoon the President called saying that I was to go to my new area ASAP 'cos it was hard for Sister Vilhena to get around on foot. So I packed up once more and found myself in Morada da Serra. I just spent the evening unpacking and chatting with Sister Vilhena. Then I found out that I couldn’t translate for Sister Davis anymore because it was too far... it made me sad, but then we found a way to get me over there. So in the end, I went to the fireside and it was the best spiritual experience I had this week. So I've never done any sort of translating for anyone (like a talk) before but it was neat. President and Sister Reber ended up showing up last minute (surprise guests) and it was such a neat experience, being up there translating for Sister Davis. The Spirit was so strong in that meeting. I felt so happy to be up there. I felt like one of the Olympic people who translate for the audiences! :p Seeing the audience at the fireside was great. Every once in a while President Reber nodded at me which made me feel good about my translation. Afterwards, they came up to us and told us "good job" also, he told me that I translated everything perfectly. Go team Mission Office!! WOOOOO!! :) It was fun!

 
I am grateful to be back in the field. It's not easy though. The girls I live with now are much different from the Campo Grande girls. But I've been putting the EXTRA effort to get to know them and it’s been helping. I still don't know my companion Sister Silva that well, but she has treated me well. Sister Martinez is from Argentina... but it's been nice :)
 

The Lord put me in the office for a reason, other than helping Sister Davis. He taught me that I am not an office person, and he also taught me that if I do give up, I will feel the melancholy I felt while I was typing away at some documents. He wants me to receive the fullest joys that the mission brings, and He has an important work for me to do. That work cannot be found in the office or the grocery store, but out in the neighborhoods of Cuiabá. Under the blazing sun, toiling to find the elect. That’s where the fruits of the mission are. I don't want to be the best missionary; I only want to be a disciple of Christ and do the Lord's will. 

I love you very much and I cannot express my gratitude for helping me and fasting for me. I wish I could hug you all but I can thank you all individually through emails and letters! I gotta get going now, but until next week! SO MUCH LOVE!!!


 
-Sister Mariana Espiritu

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 15: Ugh!

HELLO!!

I am SO glad to hear the great news over in Washington. It's just what I needed to kick off the new week. Lemme tell you, so Sister Vilhena got her new companion on Friday and she is AMAZING. I'm a little jelly of Sister Vilhena but I'll get to that later. First, lemme tell you about MY week: 

Monday night was the best FHE ever! We went to Arlete (Vilhena’s investigator) to teach a lesson. We taught about Peter and walking on water and how he sunk because his eyes weren’t on Jesus. We had a great time laughing and then we somehow switched to gratitude and the atmosphere was wonderful!  

So Tuesday after a few trials and errors, my companion arrived in one piece. A little shaken, but in one piece. We then went to the grocery store really quick to get her groceries, then retreated to our fortress/kitchenette to study. It was eerily quiet and we heard lots of screaming so we were afraid Brazil lost but we heard that it was a tie. Boo how boring! 

Wednesday was really a hump day. The night before, Elder M. Santos (DL) thought it would be a good idea to call at 10:25pm and see if we could make a cake, and none of us can make a cake. He kept insisting that we needed "faith and works" to make this cake so we just bought a cake at the market near their chapel and we ended up having to switch chapels to make it to the meeting. It was stressful also because our lunch got switched to someone who lives REALLY FAR and I lost my umbrella so I was praying for a miracle and my umbrella was found and we got a ride to lunch. But we had to walk back to our area after that.
I am not amused...
We met a 7th day Adventist along the way who only let us in to bash our beliefs on Sunday being the Sabbath, blah boring stuff, no spirit blah. Then we met a man named Marcio in the plaza downtown. I had an impression that we had to talk to that man specifically so we taught the first lesson BAM! Wonderful! He had lots of questions, all was great till we discovered that he "doesn’t know his address, new in town" and he "got mugged, no cell phone" so we hoped he would show up to Church except he didn't... oh well, a seed planted as they say! I was so happy after the lesson and excited and so was Sister Vilhena, but my new comp was more focused on what we could do better rather than to rejoice in the goodness of the Lord... okay. 

Thursday was another great day! We had a division and I went with Thais while Vilhena stayed with my new comp. Lunch was really good because Priscila and Arlete showed up and everything was great. They bought fruits for dessert so it was perfect for me. We also had an FHE with Gabriel and some other members. He really wants to be baptized but he won’t until he talks to his dad, which his dad refuses to talk to him. We are going to see if we can stop by his dad's house and talk to him... It's all in God's time, I am not worried because Gabriel is very strong and does go to church. I continue to pray for him :) 

Friday was hard. It was Vilhena's last day with me so we made the most of her company before her new comp arrived. We did contacts prior, and some of it went well and some didn't, but we did our best :) Sister Gonçalves came with President and Sister Reber, which was perfect. It turned out that interviews were the next day so it was such a blessing to have President and Sister Reber in town! 

Saturday and Sunday were particularly challenging, but I know this is a new part of my mission life that I need to face. I love my companion, but she is very dry, sarcastic and perhaps rough around the edges. Very quiet if you will. She has been a little rough with me, which gave me some anxiety and left me heart-broken because I don't feel much love from her. But she did tell me that I was an answer to her prayers since she had a VERY rough area. I want to do my best to give her the love she needs (and perhaps lacks) so that we can work together in harmony. She's obedient and willing to work but I don’t know if she has love for the people. If she does, she doesn't show it so I feel it a personal duty to show more love than ever before...

Sorry I got carried away. I am gonna wrap up here. This is not going to be the easiest transfer I know, but President and Sister Reber helped me a LOT with what I need to do this transfer. I am grateful they came here this weekend, I know that the Lord has a plan for everything and that He knew what I needed and how to help me. Sister Reber was so kind and loving. She said I can call her whenever I need to. Also, we went out and bought supplies together (the sisters with Pres. and Sis. Reber) and we fed some monkeys! I will send photos later. But I have all of the resources and love I need to face this new chapter of my mission. I am a little nervous, but I won't let my nervousness get the best of me. I feel a lot better now and I can face this!  

I have to get going but I love you guys very much. I am going to conquer this week! Thanks for everything! I pray for you guys always and I know I need this in my life now, a hard comp, new responsibilities, etc. I need this to grow and I am not looking at this situation in a bad way. Just harder, but it will mold me to become a better person. 
 
Lots of love to you all!!
 
 
 
 

-Sister Mariana Espiritu

 

 
 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week 14: I May Be a Traitor...


... but I hope Mexico wins tomorrow!! I only say that because then we won't be cooped up inside the house. Working during the World Cup isn't the easiest in the world.

But anyways my week was spectacular, very hard working! Monday was somewhat stressful because we got stuck in the Elder's area (NEVER AGAIN WILL I HAVE SUPER PDAY WITH THEM) but it was good. Also, I was saddened that I had to wait ALL WEEK TO TELL YOU THE BEST NEWS IN THE WORLD!

So no longer am I the non-fruit eating Mari. No longer do I have the obstacle of eating fruits and veggies 'cos Monday I conquered BANANAS! For y'all that don't know, I kept it very secret but I've struggled with eating fruits and veggies all my life and this week I had NO problems, In fact, I ate 6+ servings of fruits and veggies per day :) and my health has been doing splendid because of it. I stopped buying crackers and now I carry 2 bananas and 1 other fruit for a snack during the day. It really makes a difference and maybe you're baffled at how I changed. I ate more fruits and veggies this week than I did in my entire life I bet... but I eat oranges, bananas, pears, apples, and passion fruit at night (to sleep better)

so all in all, I stopped worrying for my health because now I can eat healthier, which means no more children’s vitamins (I'll eat them till they run out, they do make breakfast fun) but forget that I bet you are wondering about my week!

So Tuesday was sorta tough because we marked an appointment with Gabriel but he didnt show up so we were trying to find his house and got lost. I was stressed, stomach was aching and my back was starting to hurt, but we didnt give up and when the time was up, we ended up finding his exact location, but it was too late for a visit. Also, we heard that there have been a few assaults in an area nearby, but nothing happened to us.

Irma Isabel
Wednesday was much better. We knocked down MANY lessons and we also got the chance to visit an older lady in my ward. We didnt know who we were knocking at then we saw her and said "OH it's IRMÂ ISABEL" so it was wonderful because she is usually lonely and she loves to have visits so we are going to make sure we see her at least twice a week, to lift her spirits :)

Thursday was interesting. We started work 8:30 am, but boy was it worth it. We got 4 lessons in before lunch and taught 2 more people before retreating. I say retreat because the streets are filled with crazies gathering to every corner bar. It was especially noisy because our neighbors in the kitchenette all gathered outside and put a big TV RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR! They invited us but we kindly declined and blasted Mo-Tab while trying to study.  We didn't need to watch to know that Brazil won, really. Plus, the members are more than eager to tell us the details and everything.

Friday was great as well. Except we walked a LOT to make it to lunch and it was harder on us to make our appointments. The ZLs were also in our area to set Gabriel up for the baptismal interview. He passed, but he is delaying his baptism because he wants his family issues to be resolved before making this decision. Poor boy, his father doesn’t want to talk to him anymore... but we insisted that he pray but yet he said no. He's pretty strange 'cos most of his answers are "good question" or "i don’t know" which tends to be annoying. We also visited a member who was hospitalized, due to a brain tumor. Also since the hospitals here are much like a humane society, it was hard to have ALL THREE of us visiting. They only allowed 2 at a time per room, which made us sad because we didn't want to break the rules. So we kept insisting, saying we are missionaries and then they accepted, only that we had to wait till visiting hours were over (roughly 15 min wait) then we got special permission. It was heart breaking to see her in bed, helpless, somewhat blind, but we sang a hymn, read Alma 7:11-12 and left her with a prayer. Then her mom told us to leave a message to the person in the same room (two patients to a room, but there’s like 4 beds in there) so we went and the mother of the neighbor (Rosangela?!) said "what scripture is that, I’m not familiar with Alma, but it’s beautiful" so we told them about the Book of Mormon and left a copy with them, then walked home. I love those missionary opportunities. I am glad that Julia's mom told us to leave a message with them too! This work is truly marvelous!

Also Saturday was hard because Sister Pence and I went back to Gabriel and invited him to be baptized, yet he said no again. Our district leader told us to go back on Sunday and try to baptize him that same day. I didn't know if it was a test of faith or a desperate plea to have at least one more baptism but on Sunday, we went back and asked once more. It took all of our courage and time and obedience to invite him once more, yet he said no. I was saddened because he really wasn’t paying attention and he couldn’t feel the spirit we felt. I told him that he can’t feel it 'cos he is multitasking and not listening to the Holy Ghost. Then we left because it was no use. But we left feeling at peace because we obeyed the Lord, obeyed the council of Elder M. Santos and did our best. We are also in the ward choir now! We are singing "lead kindly light" and "i need the every hour" Sadly, the men sound pitiful. Dad, you would cringe to no end.  

And transfers happened and sadly, Sister Pence is leaving :( I knew she would leave, but she was called as an STL! I am happy for her, she really deserves the call, she is a great worker but I will miss her very much. My new comp will arrive tomorrow and I am very nervous. I don’t know what she is like or anything. I only heard from my STL that she is nice and cool but that’s the vaguest description ever. I am not used to this change but I will have to be. That’s part of life and even though I am nervous, I am calm because everything is in the Lord's hands. He won’t give me something I can’t do.

But really, I am SO HAPPY because I see myself changing every day. The biggest change made me happy, how I can eat fruits with little to no difficulties, which means I can be WAY healthy now! I have been tripling my salad intake at lunches and I eat an orange or a clementine for dessert. Or a banana, whichever fruit they offer me, I eat it! I bought so many fruits today and I see the difference in my health already :) I am thankful that the Lord has blessed me with such a marvelous change. Even if it’s small for others, it is very big for me! I am still picky though, I won’t eat anything deep fried or unhealthy now... it’s switching up hahahah!

 
 
 
I love you all SO MUCH!

 
 
 
 
 

-Sister Mariana Espiritu...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 13: Campo Grande

June 9, 2014

Oi família, friends, everyone once again,

Unfortunately, I am in a totally different area so I don’t know if I will have time to email everyone, ugh why did I choose to go to "Super P-day?" ha-ha just kidding... it’s just a hot and stuffy LAN house...
My week was spectacular. I learned a LOT in such a little time. We ended up going to Campo Grande on Tuesday. We were supposed to arrive around 5 or 6 PM but our bus arrived late and not only that, it BROKE DOWN on the way there :p It didn't surprise me one bit cos I am in BRAZIL and these things do happen. I wish I could send vids but I took some SUPER hilarious videos of me and Sister Pence in the bus; it’s amazing. So we got there in one piece around 9:30 or 10:00. Even though we did basically nothing that day, we were both exhausted!!

Wednesday was so amazing during divisions. I was comps with Sister Gonçalves; she is actually from Santa Catarina (can’t remember where) and we both have a LOT more in common than I thought. We worked hard together and we saw a lot of miracles unfold. Sadly, we didn't see ANY macaws but the miracles make up for it. The first contact/ lesson was very moving. In the end when she prayed, she started to cry because she was thanking the Lord for sending us her way when she really needed help. It moved me since no one has really said that to me on my mission so far. Then the second person we visited was just as amazing. Her name is Raquel and she has no religion. So we started with the first lesson. When we started with the usual "Heavenly Father loves you" she started to cry. She was crying because she never knew that or felt His love. Her willingness to learn and to be baptized is the reason why I am serving a mission!! Why haven’t I found many people like her on my mission?! Oh wow it was amazing to see her faith. The best part? We were lost after teaching her so when we passed in front of her house an hour after teaching, guess what? She was reading the Book of Mormon!! AAAAHHH I KNOW RIGHT?! Sister Gonçalves and I celebrated by splitting a "bolo de fubá" (which was not the best idea...) but we taught the rest of the day, made contacts and enjoyed everything that was happening!

Thursday was great. I did another division with Thais. We visited Thalia and her family. We taught them on Monday as well. Thalia's fam is super inactive and we are trying to reactivate the fam and baptize her. She's at a point where she is deciding which religion she wants and here we are like "uh US" Sister Pence and Vilhena visited 14 year old Gauges Gabriel and he accepted the baptismal invite for THIS SATURDAY! Let’s hope this one works, one Saturday in the transfer!!!

Friday was weekly planning, and we also knocked down a LOT of lessons that day. We did a lot with a member and we also were very productive. I am at my happiest whenever we do our best being productive.

Saturday on the other hand was hard. Right after lunch, the ZLs wanted to change our cellphone because it was "too old" so it sucked up our afternoon, appointments dropped, we got one lesson in but then I started to feel sick. Not. Good. So we called it quits so I could rest.

Sunday was good to an extent. Church was amazing and even though the lessons were great, the weather was rainy, stormy and the spirit strong. But the Little Espiritu was sick... I bore my testimony and I don’t remember what I said but I was all jumpy, happy, and perky to share my joy with everyone despite my illness. I truly felt like myself for the little moment I was up there. Funny how I don’t recall a word said, but I felt super perky and ... me. Lunch was good, but it left me feeling sick... Galhinada :( also the members who fed us were really rude. The Irmâ was like "Oh these people shouldn’t be baptized if they don’t show up, like Paulo... why did he choose to be baptized" and I was taken aback! Paulo has his struggles (Pence RC) but we can’t judge him... I just said "he has his struggles, he is in a rough spot" and all she said was "well what is it?" and I couldn’t say anything else. Then her husband is like "we need to excommunicate all of the members in our ward who are inactive and making the church look bad" and I was already angry at his wife, so I said "Hey why don’t you go out with us and visit all of these inactive members? They DO need your example" but he just scoffed and kept on ranting about his wacky ideas. Why are the members so rude to inactives? I want to help all of them. Sure some of them don’t really need our help, but members like this couple make me really sad... Please, help all of the inactives you can.

I am grateful for being a missionary here. The work is tough and I have WAY too much room for improvement. I know I am not the best of servants for the Lord, but I wrote down a list of things I can improve on so that I can be a better instrument in the hands of the Lord :) I can’t believe he has so much patience with someone like me, imperfect. But if He is blessing me, then I must be doing something right :) 

I love Nephi's Psalm in 2 Nephi 4. Read it please; I feel like I can relate to him a lot. Have a great week! I love you all SO much!

-Sister Mariana Espiritu

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Week 12: ChChChanges!


Oi por tudo mundo! Wow I am so happy it's Monday again, eeeee!

Well lemme tell you why I am happy to start a new week... last week was perhaps one of the most stressful so far. We had a LOT of changes. The beginning of my week was rocky.  We taught a lesson to two girls that don’t feel ready to leave the world and to follow Christ... sadly they like their baladas, booze and hookahs. We gave them the warning and they don’t want it so it’s kinda their loss...

Tuesday we were all packed to go to Campo Grande for divisions except it got cancelled due to an emergency transfer... and you know who got transferred to Cuiabá...? NOT ME! ahahahah it was Sister X, the bully sister! She was SO nervous to leave and I couldn’t help but to feel bad for her, really. But her companion Sister Vilhena is with us now and we are working in a trio until June 15, the end of the transfer. :) It's been a pleasure working in three. At first I thought it would be hard, annoying, etc. but I really learned that it is FUN to have a third companion. We work really well in threes and even though some people can't understand Sister Vilhena's accent, she teaches really well. (did I mention she is from PORTUGAL?!) We also taught 15 year old Gabriel that evening and it wasn’t easy. For some reason he refuses to make eye contact with us now and it was hard... but the three of us did our best. When I presented the question to Gabriel "Do you have the desire to follow the savior" he didn’t answer for a while and he was about to cry... then Irmão João Luiz hugged him and we all bore our testimony!

Wednesday we were still gettin' in the groove of things yet we worked as hard as we could and devised many plans for working in a trio now. Our companionship studies just got spicier and even more spiritual! Through trial and error, we learned what we must do to use our time to the fullest.

Thursday was another hard and amazing day of work. It was odd to have a weekly planning session in a trio, but we did super well with making goals and finding ways to uplift one another and helping each other reach our fullest potential! We also knocked down a LOT of lessons, met a few elect people who are anxious to read the Book of Mormon and did a gnarly division with some members. I was with Thais (I LOVE HER she is so amazing!) and we taught Gabriel with the Big Bad ZLs (I say that because they’re both short yet they are intimidating) and we taught Gabriel at his house since he couldn’t come to the church. It may or may not have been one of the most stressful lessons in my life... He refused to make eye contact once more and my awesome lesson that I planned on following Christ's example was crushed when the ZLs took charge and pushed baptism on Gabriel. His heart was really hard and his parents kept walking in the living room, it felt more like they were stalking us missionaries like prey... the atmosphere was strange cos at times I felt the spirit and at other times, it seemed to leave completely. Gabriel is SET on visiting his dad in São Paulo and then making a decision. I only hope he is led to do the right thing. Then Thais and I taught one more person who isn’t really elect but we both had an enjoyable time teaching together! 

Friday was another great day of work! We went out with the YW president to meet some inactive YW who seem to not actually be members or know what the church is... We are gonna teach two of them tonight, they seem to have much potential. :) Also we saw this really cool abandoned hotel, but I only saw it in the car, maybe one day I'll get a picture of it. We also had a lot of our lessons cancelled, which is sad and not cool but we ended up finding a few people to teach.

Saturday was probably one of the best lunches I had so far! We went to Arlete's apartment, which is really chic and she knows how to cook. We actually ate there Tuesday since she was really close to Sister X (the one who left) and yep she's our investigator now. Priscila is her daughter and she’s really cool and sweet, but going through a lot of changes and trials right now. She doesn’t know if she should marry her boyfriend that’s like 25+years older (she is like 31 i think) and is having a rough time. Also we taught their friends living in the same complex, but they were not interested in the gospel at all. I'm sure it would have been more productive to teach the walls but it was good practice for the three of us :P

Sunday was awesome because we had stake conference! WOHOOO! I LOVED LOVED LOVED the talks given :) my favorite was perhaps the one about not putting labels on others. It’s hard cos it’s easy to label people but labels make us more distant from the people around us. Also once we remove labels on people we can see their full potential the way Heavenly Father sees them. So I encourage y'all to remove the labels and see people in a positive way, to their fullest potential!! :)

Aaaaaand that was my week! Also, I am thankful for working in three now. Sister Vilhena told us Friday night that she is really thankful to be working with us because she can teach (her comp talked a LOT and never let her teach or do anything really) and also she feels the spirit with us more than she did her whole mission so far (we were in the CTM together) so it really warmed my heart to hear that from her. Plus she has opened up a LOT more to us! Before we didn’t know her well and I knew there was something wrong. She was much different in the CTM than she was in the field and we are seeing the regular Sister Vilhena at play now! We were in the same district and all and I am glad that she is back to her old self again! We also heard from members that Sister Vilhena’s companion got sent home from her mission. Since she talks a lot (Sister X) she told the members that she got in a physical fight with one of her former companions and both were sent home. It makes me want to be way more obedient. The president has NO room for people who don’t want to obey... 

I see lots of little friends (hummingbirds) everyday :) they make my day much better (even though my days are usually great... God knows how to make me smile) I know I am in the right place, as I always say and I will work hard with my two companions and dominate Dourados! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Love you!!

-Sister Mariana Espiritu

 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Week 11: Elephant Graveyard


May 26, 2014


 
BOOOOOOOOOOM DIA COM MUITO ALEGRIA! 

Happy P-day/Memorial Day to you all! Ha-ha I forgot that the holiday even existed... But Every Monday is a holiday for the missionaries! 

Today I HAD to buy a jacket so that’s why I spent 35 reais on my card...  I don't want to spend much and I was really reluctant to buy a jacket but it has been COLD at night and at least it’s a cute jacket... but I don’t like spending much. I am trying to save money now and it's hard sometimes. I might not have enough for next week's groceries (the prices are spiking up) but that’s OK we can work it out over here. 

The super potential Gabriel didn’t get baptized this weekend. He talked to his dad in São Paulo and he told him to wait it out and so he decided he didn’t want to get baptized this weekend. Which you know, was pretty tough news but what could I do? His agency.  

This week has been really rough to be honest. My foot is better and all, and so is my health :) but lemme tell you in greater detail: 

Monday night was FUNNY! We taught the Gabriels the 10 Commandments and I pretended to be Moses so I used my white lace scarf and used a deep voice to teach the lesson. It was funny and spiritual so it kept things interesting. 

Tuesday we played Neville's favorite birthday game: walk in circles (Potter Puppet Pals, Neville's Birthday). LITERALLY felt like that! We had lunch VERY far from our house and stayed there too long so our lesson with Lara took longer. She understands EVERYTHING and feels the spirit but she needs "more". More feelings, stronger faith, etc. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED IF YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE?! It's hard but we aren’t giving up without a fight. She's going to Utah because her aunt has a very good friend who lives there and is staying in Campo Grande for a while so when she goes back to Utah, Lara is tagging along. We taught Gabriel and Gabriel again at night after an afternoon of unsuccessful tracking. After that lesson, we went to Rosangela's house since we heard she goin to rehab with her friend Amy Winehouse (haha kidding) but she was SO drunk and touchy with me and we decided to just sing a hymn of encouragement and split because things were getting creepy. So we sang and she started crying. No, not "tears-in-my-eyes" crying but BALLING and WAILING type crying and we tried to leave as fast as we can... and we did. Wow we know she is never gonna progress so we aren’t going back there. 

Wednesday was okay. District meeting was nice, all of the elders ended up eating lunch with us and there was mashed potatoes made with "leite sem lactose" so I didn’t get sick. We taught three students we met and they didn't seem interested, which was sort of sad, but what can you do at this point? A bit discouraging but you gotta find those who accept the message. Plus I told myself "Gabriel is getting baptized why are you upset?" (before he cancelled). 

Thursday was AMAZING. Very hot, humid and the rains began, thank goodness! We taught a 19 year old named Fernanda who DID accept our message and baptismal invite! It was wonderful except she lives in the Elder's area and was just visiting her sister/babysitting! Augh! she is SO elect and so far from us... but we are on the same team as the elders so I want to see her get baptized and hopefully they have visited her. Unfortunately after that amazing visit we heard the news of our Gabriel not wanting to get baptized on Saturday; it was SO heart-breaking and the Zone Leaders came all the way from the other end of town in the stormy weather! But they gave us some really good advice, telling us to visit him the next day and to talk to him and his mom and step-dad and help encourage him because we KNEW the enemy worked with him. I then called him to ask why and he told the reason with his dad in São Paulo and he is following what his dad wants from him. I then asked "what does your father in heaven want from you?" and he didn’t have an answer. After giving him some encouragement we went to eat pastel to take away some of the sadness and it sure didn't help and I don’t want to eat pastel EVER again! Seriously it's just grossed me out at this point and it isn’t even good for me. Never thought I'd say that. 

Friday we went through the ends of the earth for lunch and to find Gabriel. We had to take a bus for lunch since the family lived off the map and Gabriel lives in the Elders' area so with Elder Pinheiro and Mayolo's permission (ZL's names) we embarked on a harsh journey to the end of Rua Ponto Porã. It was the first day of "cold season" here and the rains and the winds showed no mercy for us sisters. We continued on and went to his house only to find that he wasn't home. Only his step-father. We talked to him and he was happy with our visit and told us how Gabriel was. He studies the scriptures (Book of Mormon) regularly and really likes it, according to him. But sadly none of his family members encourage him to be baptized now :( we haven’t heard from Gabriel since he didn’t go to church this Sunday. We can’t get a hold of him either. 

Saturday the cold continues and we worked SUPER hard! We taught many less-actives, new people, and invited Yasmine (recent convert girl who stopped going to church) to go to the BAILE COUNTRY! (Country dance!). She went with us and the three of us endured more rain and wind. Despite the conditions, we were happy to work.

Sunday was COLD and MORE rainy than ever! So church attendance was super poor due to the cold. Many people who usually go didn't show up and we were colder inside than outside. We had to walk a LOT to teach a lesson and we also had to walk in a lot of rain. Man there is nothing worse than wet tights! Wet socks, wet everything! After the lesson we walked to the FHE with Lara, Guilherme (member friend) and had an enjoyable lesson on conversion.  

Wanna know how I am combating the cold? So miraculously the blankets didn’t stink when we took them out again so I am using those blankets a lot. Also, we dug through the "cemitério" (cemetery, old missionary clothes) or as I like to call it, the "Elephant Graveyard" because most of the clothes could fit an elephant or be used as a tent for someone the size of me. But I found a few things I could use for sleep and on the road. Also, I love to boil water to put in my Camelbak bottle and drink it during the day (and to keep my hands warm) and at night, I boil more to keep me warm at night. I also grab one of the two liter bottles we have at home and put hot water inside and put it by my feet to keep me warm all night! It is the funniest and best advice. I am also thinking of putting plastic bags on my feet before putting on my tights so my feet won’t get too wet. I am full of funny ideas that will help me survive! 

I am happy to hear the news at home as always! I am sorry if I am horrible at responding to questions but I get so excited that my mind wanders all over the place! I hope you all enjoy my little email this week. It was rough but the little miracles are keeping me alive. One night while I was praying some of the neighbors were BLASTING certaneja (Brazilian country) which was REALLY distracting. I said "I am sorry Father, this music is distracting me and I want to talk to you!!" and right after I said it, they turned down the music! Also the cold. It is cold for us here, which is unusual but I love it because it reminds me of home a LOT! The rain, the wind, and even though I am not made for the "Northwest-like weather", I am enjoying every minute of it :) 

I miss you all SO much! I loved the news and everything! 
 
Love you!

 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week 10: Disk Salvação


Had Subway for my two month anniversary :)
May 19, 2014
ALÔ(ha) family, friends, fans, enemies (kidding about that last part)
I'm on a little later than I wanted to be but today has been a super duper relaxing P-day. Can't complain at all. Mom do you play truco (card game?)
Anyways this week has been GREAT! So last P-day, we went to check on some of our "unprogressing" investigators (they're always in Ponto Porã in the weekends) to give them one more chance before we cut them off of our presence. However, they had super legit concerns about baptism like "well why will baptism help if I am going to sin again?" and I was like "OH OH OH I HAVE THE ANSWERRRRRRR!" You know I was mentally jumping up and down to answer and I did! I told her the reason why we have the sacrament is to renew our baptismal covenants, etc. and we REMARKED their baptism date so we were very happy! They're going to our super awesome noite famíliar (FHE) activity tonight about the Ten Commandments so it is gonna be fun. Basically I am Moses and I am going to use my lace white scarf for a beard and they are gonna participate, etc. so I am stoked :)
The two Gabriels
Also, we are baptizing Brasil, one Gabriel at a time! We have a date this SATURDAY for two Gabriels. One is 15 and the other is 14. Gabriel with 15 is fo' sho' gonna go for the best dip of his life this Saturday. Gabriel with 14 is still having doubts so this week sister Pence and I are doing daily fasts so we can get these baptisms going! Yesterday we fasted after almoço but it was a fluke for me because 1) we had panquecas (Brazilian enchiladas, gross gross GROSS) and I didn’t eat a lot cos it was far too heavy. 2) Sister Pence and I suffered horrible stomach aches last night before bed but the worst part was I have been up more or less since 1:30 AM. I broke my fast 3:30 AM to drink herbal tea and have saltwater cracker things. Then the rest was just tossing, turning and having nightmares of every worst case scenario that could happen on a P-day. One dream involved me and Sister Pence fighting about the FHE lesson and the other nightmare was me not finding ham and cheese at the market... In which every dream involves me being a missionary. I need to remember to NOT eat things out of courtesy even when I know it will make me sick. The worst part was they made the massa without milk so I felt like I was backed up in a corner... but I know I can pull the "too much fat card" on them :)

ANYWAYS The Gabriels are amazing! We taught them the Word of Wisdom on Tuesday and Law of Chastity. Funny how I can teach teenage boys the Law of Chastity without any problems now, but maybe a year or two ago it would be little awkward. But Gabriel (14) has coffee problems but so far he hasn’t been drinking any coffee. His first day without coffee was easy because he couldn’t find it (prayers being SO answered!)

We also taught a lady we met in front of the church named Elyani. She had very profound questions like "why didn’t blacks have priesthood, why can’t women have priesthood, etc...) but I answered them the best I can from what I studied and we are gonna teach her this week again. She accepted baptism but not a date. Boo. 
We wrote the English 'ad' for the owner and got free pastels :)

Thursday was weekly planning and it also rained. Funny because we were washing our sheets while we did planning and during our lunch break, I needed a "change of scenery" so I went out and then it started to rain a little so I got the sheets out as fast as I could so they wouldn’t get wet. Small miracles make all the difference... I can’t go without clean sheets yo!

All of our appointments dropped Thursday but we were able to teach a crazy cat lady who, unfortunately is a firm believer in espiritismo. But we taught with dignity and her "shy cat" apparently liked me a LOT and jumped on my lap... she was like "WOW he never goes up to people!" and yeah kinda gross buuuuuut the lesson had to keep going and the "Espiritu" won’t leave because of some cat! Unfortunately she refuses to change religions, but you could not deny the spirit that we felt when we taught the first lesson! She at least listened.... come on I let your cat sit on my lap can’t you just accept the book of Mormon??? Hah but we kept our heads up and walked back in the rain in hopes that the elect would come out. Sister Pence and I always have a good laugh together so we kept our spirits up even though we felt like we were wandering...
Friday was really great! We taught a 14 year old girl with many odd questions, but she accepted our message! Also, she invited us right when we "clapped" at her door :) unfortunately her family is in Ponto Porã and her mom doesn’t seem to let her be baptized and she says her twin is possessed with the devil... whatever that means. But she has a lot of potential and we are gonna see her soon!

Cockatiel
Saturday was yet another "walk till all your appointments drop" kinda day along with some showers and thunder storms. The perfect ambiance for a missionary right? We at least taught 3 people out of the 6 or 7 we had scheduled. One was to an older gentleman with TWO cockatiels! Maybe I talk to people because I see birds, but everyone deserves salvation right?! He wasn’t willing to listen too much but we sang, shared a scripture and went on our way after I played with the birdies. They were super excited to have me pet them (unlike a certain CHICKEN, lookin' at you buddy!) so excited that each bird got jealous of one another and would fight for my attention. So I had to pet both of them at once. A daunting task, yet possible :p Also, I put the "ESP" in "Espiritu" because I could predict the rain like no other Washington weather reporter could. We visited some recent converts who DONT go to church when it rains (they have all dirt roads, only mode of transportation is one motorcycle, two bicycles and the bus along with a girl who has bronchitis and almost died of pneumonia or something...) so I told Flaviana "Oh it’s gonna rain all night and when you wake up it will be sunny as can be so keep your chin up you'll be able to show up" and we shared D&C 59:9-10 (?!) about the Sabbath. She loves church but doesn’t have too many friends yet. But anyways when I woke up and saw that it was sunny I KNEW Flaviana would show up and she soooo did! :) 
Lunch at the Bishop's house

Sunday was AMAZING Gabriel (15)'s mom showed up for church and she was super chill, sweet, and supporting her son's decision although it was "too fast to decide to be baptized" but we have faith that it will work. Lunch was at the Bishop's, you know how that went. Did I ever mention that our bishop is like SUPER young? I've got a group pic and you will see. Having a young bishop is SO chill because he is super relaxed, yet hard working! But still Brazilian (hah)

Also, this week I've had problems with my foot due to the stupid Keen shoes I have. So basically they hurt my Achilles’ tendon in the inside so it hurt no matter what shoes I used so Tuesday, I had to take the afternoon off. Forgot to mention that my foot had problems but with ibuprofen, I got better. I can’t run with my tennis shoes cos it still hurts but I can’t do much other than to avoid my shoes like the plague...

Mom, I don’t think I need the slip, thanks! What I DO want though is Froot Loops, Cinnabon cereal, and maaaybe Captain Crunch?! Socks perhaps. I dunno. I am easy to pleasy :) I am glad you had a very awesome birthday week. Because when you have your jubilee, your birthday must be celebrated ALL WEEK LONG! ;)  

I Love you ALL SOOOOO MUCH! I am in good health-ish... I struggle with the fat content in a LOT of foods here because the irmãs LOAD everything with at least half a bottle of oil for each thing they cook. It is very nauseating and I can’t do much. It’s also putting on weight because I've stopped the pastels, stopped the bakeries (except p-days for the weekly bread... mmm) and stopped the unhealthy stuff but I have gained a little weight and I can’t run it off cos of my foot... hmmm help?!
Love,
Sister Mariana Espiritu
Ps: I think we might stay another transfer here because the world cup starts right at the end of this transfer. That’s my prediction but I hope I can get transferred in Cuiaba to see the big mess that the games will be :p just kidding it’s all up to the Lord. But it would make sense if during NEXT transfer, everyone stays. It will be a mess here. 

PPS: gonna have divisions in CAMPO GRANDE! Sister Pence and I are going to CAMPO GRANDE NEXT WEEK FOR SPLITS!!! AAAAAAAHHHH

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week 9: Third World Walmarts and Costcos


May 12, 2014

Ahoy family and fans!

Happy Mother's Day!!!
I love love love love LOVED Skype-ing y'all it was the best thing since rosquinhas de laranja (basically orange-glazed bread from my local bakery... only had them once and I won’t have them again till we get a BAPTISM!)

So I told you most of my week about how all my appointments fell and we were left wandering and trying to find the elect... However, the baptism font looks SO miserable and dry.... Heck all of the leaves are falling in there so we REALLY need to make this week count for Gabriel (another investigator with a date this weekend. WISH ME LUCK) so Pence and I devised a PLAN to make sure we get the font up and running again. We are making some mighty "sacrifices" on our part to make this work...

Two of our investigators

So we are going to stop eating at bakeries FOR GOOD. We only go there P-days for our weekly bread and that’s it. We stocked up pretty well. Also we ought to STOP talking about food and stopping for pastels... so every time food is the topic, we will change it to "baptism" (such as describing the perfect music and stuff at a baptism. NERDY RIGHT?!) And also we will be sacrificing our bad habits for baptisms. Hopefully this works.


P-day: the things you find at the store :)
 
 
 
As for the subject line, we decided to hit the big grocery stores in the Elder's area to stock up for a couple of weeks since its WAY cheaper to buy stuff there. So basically we are stocked up on snacks, food and everything we need for a couple of weeks (save it for bread, ham and cheese, fruits, the weekly essentials which ain't much)

Boring stuff, I know but lemme get to the good things that happened. We cut off a lot of non-progressing investigators, which is sad but we have already made like 4-5 appointments this week based on contacts we made last night and this morning. Actually, this morning we missed the bus that takes us downtown so we stopped at a clothes shop nearby and the owner is actually a REALLY inactive member. I don’t even think her records were transferred to Dourados because she doesn’t really know what time church starts or ANYTHING! I am so glad we missed the bus because her 9 year old daughter loves primary and now she can come to church on Sundays. Like I've said, there’s a purpose for everything, even missing the bus. 

Our favorite restaurant
Wow I am SO happy that I was able to do the best Skype call with ALL OF YOU!! I was SO excited I couldn’t even sleep last night.
 
So I am in great health, avoiding fats, sugars, and bakeries that tempt me this week but I just remembered what Jesus said "Man cannot live by bread alone" so I can live on my stocked up snacks that I carry with me and fruits. Man finding a good apple here is HARD. But I found some seedless grapes so I am GREAT! :) I love you all SO MUCH!  I feel like the Skype call was the motivation I need to keep me going. Your advice helped me a lot mom, and dad thanks for bringing Chicken to the call as well, even though he wanted to talk to the juicer instead of me :) I enjoyed hearing him sing again. He is such a nerdy bird. Plus I’ve got loads of pics to show you all :) I love you so much thanks for the motivation and I WILL WORK HARD! Batizar até o pó! 

-Sister Espiritu

PS: HAPPPY BIRTHDAY MOM SORRY I FORGOT TO MENTION I GOT SO EXCITED I FORGOT... But better early than never ;)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 8: Nem Pensa!


May 5, 2014 

Hello all! 
This is actually a public phone!

I wasn’t the one that was sick this week. In fact, I am doing a lot better today. Wednesday and Friday were a little bit harder for my stomach but that is a story for later. Also, my companion caught the common cold or something because she hasn’t been feeling too well. I've been drugging her up with my supply of DayQuil and NyQuil and she is already doing a lot better! And today marks the day of a new transfer and Dourados is safe because Pence and I are still here!  

This last week was a little harder on us because we had about 4 sick days clocked in and about three or less days of legit labor. I took Wednesday evening off due to stomach pains and Friday as well. Pence had Saturday night and Sunday night off. We did get some work done, but not a lot like we wanted to... but the good news is that Sister Reber told me that we have a new mission doctor and he isn’t putting me on some fiber-only diet and he is even telling me to NOT eat anything with high fibers (including raw salads... WOOOOO). So I am liberated from that awful diet the last doc gave me. The "cookies integral" were NASTY! Sister Pence and I called them "dirt cookies" because they literally taste like dirt. Fortunately, we got peanut butter from one of the members, so Sister Pence just dipped the dirt in peanut butter and made everything better. Me, I dipped them in strawberry soy yogurt (not bad but the aftertaste is very questionable). 

Enough of health and diet, this is a family email/newsletter from Dourados. Let’s get to the good stuff. So we have a baptism THIS SATURDAY!!! Lara is her name and she is SOOOO awesome! I hope this baptism goes through because yesterday she said "I’m gonna talk more about my baptism date next time..." which left us a LITTLE bit worried but I kid you not, she is SO elect. She reads like EVERYTHING we assign her, she keeps her commitments, she is super punctual and most of all she is willing to follow the commandments, including giving up her coffee, which is like a SUPER miracle! We get along great because we both love reading and learning. She loves learning about other religions too, kinda like me and Brady. I hope she isn’t gonna get baptized and fall away, but I doubt it. She has such great faith and I told her to start the Book of Mormon from the beginning so we will see how it all goes tomorrow :) 

Also, we have our struggling investigators. They might not be progressing investigators either, so we may need to drop a few. The first set is Francelo, Rosangela, and Erica. It’s always awkward teaching them because Erica usually rants about how the other two need to get off drugs and badmouths them the entire time and doesn’t let us talk, and if she does it's usually so she can prove her point. So this Thursday we visited them and Rosangela was wanting to know how to get baptized and wanting to learn more when Erica cuts in with her usual rant. Very boring, the same deal, awkward, and of course it drives the spirit out of our lessons. I was already sick of it so I "went to the bathroom" to devise a plan while my poor companion took the verbal abuse. She didn’t know what to do and once I was done with my "business" (i.e., praying, coming up with a plan to get OUT), I walked back outside and I didn’t take a seat, just to assert SOME sort of authority. I pulled out the scriptures and made sure everyone was seated and listening because I had a message. Whenever Erica interrupted, I kept saying "May I finish my message first??" then she would apologize and let me continue. I shared the scripture in 3 Nephi about the spirit of contention being of the devil and I told them that whenever they argue, we only have the spirit of contention in the room. I began telling them that we are here to bring the presence of the Holy Ghost and not the spirit of contention. It was quiet, and once I finished my message with a testimony, we left as quickly as we could.  

Also, Sister Pence and I made a commitment for this transfer that we will continue to speak up and be bold. We are both chill and nice and it’s not a good combination. Though I will admit, I am the more direct out of the two of us. But we need to work together to be more bold so we don’t have to have long long lessons with dysfunctional families. Another great part about my week was actually yesterday, when we went to visit a recent convert who decided she didn’t want to go to church anymore. It was weird because she was super strong, reading the Book of Mormon, etc. but she stopped going and her neighbor (also a member) told us that she is changing religions. We thought he was kidding because it sounded farfetched. But he wasn’t so we went to her rescue. We still don’t know why she doesn’t want to go to church, her excuses were "I don’t feel comfortable, etc." so I told her about MY experience about being uncomfortable in church too. I told her how I never had friends and how it was always hard for me to go, but my testimony kept me going and now the blessings are worth it. I also told her that Jesus knows her feelings and to study Joseph Smith History since he too was persecuted for seeing God. She still said "I dunno if I am going to church this Sunday" but we are going back again this week. I spoke with conviction and the Spirit was present, but I have a feeling that her mom doesn’t want her to go to our church. Someone told her something that is preventing her from going and we are gonna find out WHAT. Also, she comes from a super poor family and her mom thinks that our church is for "chique people" (chic people), which is totally wrong. We will see what happens from there... 

"Don't even think about it"

"Please don't eat fried foods"
Also, since Sister Pence and I have been stuck in the house for a while, we decided to make up cool plans so that we aren’t utterly hopeless. We called contacts we made during our transfer that we never got back to, and also we listened to conference through my speakers. We downloaded them a few weeks back so we finished Saturday afternoon and listened in on the Priesthood session and tackled part of the Sunday morning session. EXCELLENT! I LOVED priesthood session a LOT, especially the first talk and Uchtdorf's. Well, all of the talks were very inspiring even if I am not a priesthood holder. It is very applicable to all who listen in. I especially loved the part when our prophet told Uchtdorf "Don’t even think about it" kkkkkkkkk! I made another healthy poster inspired by that. Also, during Sunday Morning, I loved this talk by I don't-remember-who, but it inspired me to tell you guys to read Chapter 13 of Preach My Gospel.  

I love you all so very much! I also have a very strong testimony regarding my time here. I have my challenges, sure, but I know I am very happy here. The members are such a great example to me, along with my investigators (the ones who aren’t on drugs ;) ) and I am always learning and growing by the minute. I know that I am opening up a WHOLE lot more and mom, I am using my "mouth filter" properly because I say what is on my mind without offending people.
"Look! A bird!"
 
I am safe and sound and SUPER HAPPY not only because I don’t have to do the world’s dumbest diet, but that I know what I need to do to be healthy. I need to have more faith in Christ that I can be healed through him as well. I've seen some great miracles here and I will work hard to do MY best to bring others unto Christ. Love you all very much! Have a great week and PS: I am CRAVING a good burger so eat one for me please? Also a donut or ten ;) 

-Sister Mariana Espiritu