Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 7: Loro Quer Batismos!

April 28, 2014 

Oi mom, dad, and all of my fans! 

Another week has passed and WOW it’s my last week before transfers. We have a 5-week transfer so we will see if I stay in the safe-haven of Dourados or go up north to burn up with the other sisters... 

In any case, my week was full of work as always :) the Lord has been so good to me and Sister Pence!! She is a wonderful companion.  

Tuesday morning was challenging. I felt that I put a lot of weight on my shoulders. Dare I say that I felt slightly homesick... *gasp* yes I used the h-word. I get delayed reactions but I can say that my wave of homesickness left just as fast as it came because once I left the house, everything got much better :) we had lunch at a restaurant called Casarão and we got to go to the bank (since I needed cash) and the best part was we found a WONDERFUL new investigator full of potential! Her name is Lara and her dad just happens to be the owner of Casarão! Neat huh? Her dad isn’t a member but she was really willing to listen to our message. She has family members who are LDS and she had the lessons some 4-5 years ago but we refreshed her and she really seemed to enjoy it! She felt the spirit in our message and we followed up on Friday (where she asked lots of questions) and she even went to church yesterday! So her baptismal date is May 10 and so far, so good! Lara is super friendly and she also has two parrots! I got to hold one of them, took a few pics and she bit me :( didn’t hurt too bad and it’s better than being pooped on. Stains of any kind are nearly impossible to get rid of here... 

Also on Tuesday night, we were walking down the street and someone jumped us! Just kidding I wasn’t robbed, but I saw a lady walking to her car and even though I thought she seemed to be in a hurry, i stopped her anyways and we started talking. Her name is Erica and she was really impressed to see two young (and beautiful) ladies doing the work of the Lord. She called her son to come out and meet us and he is nice too. Unfortunately, Francelo (the son) suffers from a horrible drug addiction. He was open about it. Actually, they were both open about like their whole life to us. I guess when you are a sister missionary, people feel more than comfortable sharing their life stories and struggles. I don’t mind one bit because I know each and every one of them need the gospel in their life. If anything, I was excited to meet people with such afflictions because I know how I can help make their life better. Sister Pence gave The Plan of Salvation pamphlet to Francelo. On Friday, we had a follow up (and very good attempt) at the First Lesson, but they kept leaving and coming back and getting FAR off topic so all we could do is leave them another pamphlet, a Book of Mormon, and an invite to church of course! Francelo is very interested. Even though he struggles with drug addiction, you can tell that he wants to escape his afflictions. When we handed the Book of Mormon to him, he asked "how much?" and of course sister pence and I said "there is no cost, it is a gift" and he told us "well this is the best gift I have ever received, I can tell that this is a very holy and important book" which really surprised me! It is so cool that he knew the importance of the Book of Mormon right when we handed it to him! The other cool part was he flipped through it and was so eager to read everything! I hope he reads The Book of Mormon. He didn’t show up to church and neither did Erica, but tomorrow we are going to anchor them to the first lesson (no distractions this time) and hope that they will know that the gospel will help them! 

Let's see, Wednesday was another good day. We had a district meeting and before we got there, Sister Pence and I bought some tapioca from a feirinha. I really love tapioca, but she didn’t like the texture that much... Oh well! Since we had to go back and do our studies in the afternoon, it cut a lot of our day but you can NEVER judge a day until it’s over. You see, we had a super awesome member named Thais go with us to teach a recent convert/less active member's cousin Rayanne. I heard she didn’t have religion and wasn’t interested at all but we taught her the first lesson and we also invited her to be baptized May 10. It fell since she didn’t go to church but she really felt the spirit in our message. Thais helped a lot since they are the same age and she is a recent convert as well. 

Thursday was a challenge. My health was getting in the way of work. Even though I was already not feeling too hot since Tuesday, I thought I needed to take some action. We went to the nice supermarket next to the church to buy some fruits and bread in hopes that I can retain at least SOME form of vitamins in me... then we called Sister Reber and told her everything. She called a church doctor, who followed up with me Saturday and he is going to send me an email with some dietary guidelines... booo for diets! But what can I say, I need to be healthy!  

Saturday was also challenging because I wasn’t feeling well and it felt like I was digressing from the work. We taught the first lesson to some people on our street and it was hard... they were not listening OR interested. It seemed like teaching the wall would have been a better idea. The wall would have accepted the baptism invite!! But the entire day I felt weak but I didn’t want to rest. I didn’t want to stay at home or anything, so I told Sister Pence how I felt like I wasn’t progressing with my health and my day... and she told me not to be discouraged and I could rest if I needed. But we continued on and even though I was discouraged, we decided to try Anderson and Cecilia. They haven’t come to church and Cecilia wasn’t interested in our last lesson. But we reinvited them to baptism and the spirit was so strong. We taught them very well and they said they would go to church, but didn’t... :( but hopefully they can show up next time! 

So many baptism dates but no baptisms so far! It’s hard but I know I need to keep working. I need more faith in my investigators too. Sometimes they just seem like they’re not going to keep their promises but they won’t if I don’t trust them! So I am working on my faith in these people since I never really had much faith in people before my mission! Which is good and bad. I have much faith in my Lord but not the people I teach. I am going to change that, I want them to know that I do have faith in them! 

My week of work was very hard. There were many ups and downs, but I can tell you that I am indeed in the right place! Nothing can convince me that I should be somewhere else. I am so thankful that I can be an instrument in the Lord's hands! Every day I thank the Lord for allowing me to serve Him. I thank Him for my success and my struggles because I see the importance in BOTH. The best part is that I am working for Christ. That is better than working for anyone else. And not only that, but he was working right along with me! How cool right? I feel that I grow as each day passes, which is good. Not in height and I hope not in weight, but in spirituality, knowledge, patience, and charity. Please, help your local missionaries, they will be ever thankful for your assistance. Don’t forget to spay and neuter your pets as well. We got kittens and puppies running around in the streets and it’s not cool. 

Love you all so much!
Sister Mariana Espiritu

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 6: Wo unto Them that Buy Pasta!

April 21, 2014 

Hi family and friends!

Another week gone and look at this, I've only got two more P-days till the next transfer.  

So this week was really awesome! Last week on P-day, my comp and I went and did some "clothes shopping" but we actually just bought a t-shirt and some "ugly pj bottoms" but they're so dope! I will send pics later! We have been toiling all week as well. Our shower was fixed on Tuesday and we had the chance to teach our progressing investigator Nilson... he is having difficulties giving up his coffee and the worst part is HE ISN'T EVEN ADDICTED HE ONLY DRINKS IT LIKE OCCASIONALLY but he cannot comprehend the word of wisdom. We challenged him to trace back his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon (which he hasnt been reading) so hopefully he will be able to do his best to read.

Also, I've faced some struggles regarding my health but it's nothing major. Maybe I have to get used the the bacteria here or who knows but I got a stomache ache on Wednesday from an awful lunch I ate and it sucked because the irma (sister) is inactive and she is easily offended so it was hard to refuse her food... the other sister who ate with us got lost and bailed so Neide was really peeved at that plus it felt like everything I was doing was offending her. Even breathing... but I survived and the other food struggle I had was on Friday during the Zone Conference. They made stroganoff for everyone and I am lactose intolerant... I didnt even think of telling anyone so basically all I ate was rice and salad... RABBIT FOOD TO COMMEMORATE EASTER and my is nickname "bunny," right?! It was sad though because I couldn't eat one of my favorite dishes and the irmas that prepared it kept telling me "next time you should tell us youre lactose intolerant blah blah blah..." but other than those two incidents lunches have been great. 

In regards of the subject line... so last monday I bought a new bag of pasta since we were running out. No biggie, just regular spiral noodles, the usual thing we buy. But here's the TWIST (hehe): last night when we were making pasta, we dumped the leftover and opened the new bag. Poured the noodles in and BAM! little black bugs floating on top! drained the water and started again. We thought it came from the old bag but upon further inspection, it was from the bag we bought LAST MONDAY! I took pictures for you to see. Little black bug infested pasta! We had to toss the entire bag and eat ramen instead. For once ramen was the healthy alternative... I can't look at spaghetti the same way again. Maybe I wont have any till after the mission. HAH!

We had many interesting teaching experiences; on Tuesday, we met a lady named Sueli and her friend Bruno. So we taught the first lesson and talked about prophets and she was totally intrigued with latter-day prophets! You could feel the spirit as we testified of the Restoration. After the closing prayer, we saw that Bruno had tears in his eyes! Jackpot! Also we met a kid named Diego who was visiting his god-mother. Though he was born catholic, he no longer has faith in Christ. Rather, he has adopted agnostic-like beliefs and asked us a BUNCH of questions to the point where we could NOT keep up with the discussion. At one point I had to ask him to halt so we could answer one of the many questions that could be answered through the restoration. Still, he kept asking and such, but he was intrigued with the Apostasy. It got out of hand (we did answer some of his questions, but it was hard) and then Sister Pence couldn't take it so she just bore her testimony and I bore mine... we stayed there for over an hour because of the hulabaloo of a discussion we had, but in the end, Diego's mother thanked us for coming since his faith is waivering and she was suprised that he was even wanting to talk to us. Diego also told me that he was suprised that we didn't walk out on his questions or seemed frightened. He was impressed with our conduct, our calmness and our organization, which is good right??

Saturday took the cake though. Once again  it looked like it was going to rain, so my comp and I thought it best to stop by our apartment and get my umbrella. We passed in front of this lady's house that is right in front of our complex; we thought we could talk to her before going home, why not? She was SO interested in our message and I even started to cry during the lesson. It was a very spiritual experience, despite the fact that it started to rain hard on us and the roaring thunder interrupted some of our discussion. Darci is her name. She felt the Spirit in our message and we set a date with her. Also, she asked what happened to the other sisters, so we told her about transfers and blah. She then tells us that "I always saw them walking by and they always said hello, but they never stopped to give me the message you shared." and it hit me hard. Sometimes we go through such great measures to find the elect. We walk in the blistering sun and in the pouring rain in hopes to find someone in need of the gospel. We walk for miles to find them, but sometimes they are literally in front of us. This was the biggest lesson I learned this week, right next to the awesome teaching techniques we got from zone conference! If there are a few things I could leave with all of you now, it would be to always see what is in front of you. You never know. The answer could be right in your face and you won't know it. Second, always open your mouth. This is directed at the member missionaries but it applies for everyone else.  Third of all, you can never help others when you are comfortable. Thats my motto. At times I feel like I can't handle being sweaty, or my shoulders hurt no matter how many times I swich shoulders on my bag, and I can't escape the mosquitos no matter how much repellent I have on me. But it doesn't matter so much since I am doing the Lord's work and I can put aside my personal comfort to help others in need. Will others benefit if I am in total comfort? NO! I always have to step outside my comfort zone and its not easy, but I know the blessings are worth it.

I better wrap up my email. But wait there's more *Billy Mays voice* I am so blessed to be here in Dourados! My companion and I are always willing to work and we always have something to learn from each other each day. I feel so close to the Lord with each prayer I say and I have had peace in my heart after all my little troubles. It is hard to mark baptisms and have people follow through since Cuiaba mission is still growing; but I know our efforts are not in vain, every seed that is planted will eventually be reaped and hopefully this week we can thrust in our sickle and find more of the elect. I love you all so much and I never forget you in my prayers!

Love you lots! Eat lots of Barilla for me. I only had BUGrilla here in Dourados and ain't nobody got time fo dat!

-Sister Mariana Espiritu

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Week 5: That's How the Sisters Do

April 14, 2014 

Oi família e amigos! Hi family and friends, 

Man this week was much more promising than the last. I must say, I recovered pretty well... but I've been keeping a close eye on where I've been eating and WHAT I'm eating so all is well there. As for vitamins, minerals, and such, I'm on top of it. During divisions, Sister Puckett and Barbosa sorta laughed at my children's vitamins but later told me they were jealous... HAHA! 

So anyways, we've got a LOT more investigators than last week. I want to say we've almost got ten... plus I made my first baptismal invite, to which the couple said "YES!" WOOOHOOO! It’s hard though since they didn’t go to church yesterday and we haven’t had much luck getting hold of them... but the ZL called us and told me that I've done such a good job this week so I don't have room or time to be discouraged. 

The beginning was slow since it was hot and we felt like we were wandering in vain to find the elect. It was hard since most people turned us down or were simply not interested. However, we had such a wonderful miracle happen to us on Wednesday. We were walking past a park and I saw only a few people but I wanted to talk to them anyways. Why shouldn’t they hear what we have to say. I told Sister Pence that we should go to the park and she said "but there aren’t too many people and some of them are teachers with kids..." but I insisted and she agreed. Okay I saw some burrowing owls as well and I wanted pictures but I knew I had to work first, then bust out the camera. Anyways, we came across two students studying and we started talking; soon two more joined and we taught the first lesson to them. Wesley, one of the students told us he stopped going to church since he didn’t know which to join. Tania was also very interested. Once we read the First Vision, the spirit was so strong. It was such a neat experience, I started crying and my companion got the shivers because it was strong. The students felt it too. Tania commented that "I prayed last night since I haven’t talked to God and I just thanked him for everything and asked for guidance and here you guys are!" It was amazing, perhaps the best part of HUMP DAAAAAAYYYY! The only problem is that they’re from other cities and only come to Dourados to study so they leave during the weekends. Please pray for them! 

Another new investigator is Jaqueline. She is very faithful and has gone through many hardships. She accepts what we have to say, but she doesn’t know if baptism is right... but we are gonna teach her the 2nd lesson tonight and hopefully all will be well :) she showed up for church and loved the testimony meeting (thank the heavens that no one told a long story about their life and blah blah blah) 

Also, the weather started to take a turn and next thing you know it is cold. It started Wednesday evening when some strong winds came through town. It was hard to walk since dust, gravel, and debris pelted at us and I had to keep my eyes shut for part of the time, but the tempest didn’t stop us from working. Since Thursday, it has rained every day and just as all is cooling down, our shower breaks. So we got a pipe that only has cold water coming out of it. You can't have it all when you’re on a mission. We are gonna call someone to fix it later today. Cold showers aren’t a problem when it is 90 degrees but now it dropped down to 70 something and it sucks. But when I showered today, shivering and struggling to wash myself, my music came to "count your blessings" which made my shower more bearable. Best part? Feeling clean in the end. Sometimes you've gotta go through a lot just to be clean. When y'all take your warm showers today and complain that the mirror is fogged up, just remember dear ol' Sister Espiritu ;) haha. 

Despite my interesting circumstances, I am so happy to be here. Yesterday my comp and I talked about how we LOVE Krispy Kreme and how we miss it but then I remembered that we can have these luxuries (yes, I am calling Krispy Kreme a luxury and IT IS) any time after the mission. But right now, we have 18 months to indulge in the luxurious blessings that the Lord is providing us. Sure, I don’t have a warm shower now and cooking meals is hard when food is short and the bread is dried, but I wouldn’t trade this for nothin' right now, no not even for a thousand boxes of hot Krispy Kremes! I am so thankful that I am an instrument in the Lord's hands. I finished "Our Heritage" today and I learned much of the sacrifices that the Saints before us had to make in order for the gospel to be restored. It makes me grateful for all of the resources we have today. I am thankful for being a missionary here and teaching these people in Dourados. I only hope that Jacqueline, Nelson, Wesley, Tania, Anderson, and Cecilia will open up their hearts and follow the Lord. I am grateful for these people, I'm learning something new every day. Perhaps I've forgotten a few things like I always do, but I never forget the goodness the Lord shows me every day. I know I'm in the right place. 

I’m glad the Portuguese class you and mom are teaching for the missionaries waiting for their visas is doing well. This Friday, sing "nosso lei e trabalhar" for the hymn. Its "put your shoulder to the wheel" but change the chorus to "nosso lei e batizar BATIZAR! Batizar com água frio e confirmar" its uber amazing :) 

gonna send pics, got a LOT to send you know. The photographer in me is dying to put these on the blog. Love y'all! 


P.S. I am so happy! It’s cold and I missed wearing a jacket. 
Thursdays weekly planning lunch... Pancakes. Or as I like to call them... PLANCAKES! you gotta hand that one to me! Its a new tradition :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 4: Can you Puke with all the Colors of the Wind?

Hi y'all

Yes I got to Dourados by bus and it was not too shabby. The roads are filled with potholes as far as the eye can see so it was bumpy but the seats weren't bad. Didn't sleep too well but that’s ok! What made my bus trip worthwhile was watching the sunrise from the window. That's not all, I saw the toucans waking up and flying as the sun was rising. At that point I didn't care if I couldn't sleep; all I wanted to do was watch the silhouettes of toucans flying! When we (Sister Vilhena and I) were in Campo Grande for a breakfast break we saw two scarlet macaws, which made my trip even better. We arrived safe and sound with our companions waiting for us, along with our ride to our FIRST LUNCH mmmm!

My trainer (Sister Pence) is super amazing! She’s as hard working as it gets and she is also very patient with me. We get along GREAT and we both work well together and we are motivated to do the Lord’s work. She is happy that I can speak both English and Portuguese so we really help each other out a lot. She helps me with learning the ropes and I in turn help her with the language. A suitable exchange don't you think? My comp and I have a motto now. "Pence, e voce vai sentir o Espiritu!" (since they pronounce her name like "pensar" pense"). It means "Ponder, and you will feel the Spirit."

My apartment is the coolest thing since sliced bread. We DO have a microwave, washing machine and two dishwashers (aka me and Sister Pence AHAHAHA), which makes our house look like Downton Abbey but I love it since it's nice, clean and simple to maintain. Hopefully I can attach photos. We are relatively close to the LAN house and supermarket along with surrounding houses.

Fun fact: my house gets up to 90 degrees daily. We have two fans (and the small one I brought is super weak but I figured its better than nothing) but we do a pretty good job of keeping cool. I think the Lord blesses us a LOT because there hasn’t been a day where I couldn’t handle the heat. The only times I’ve woken up were when I got a fever and another time when I needed to take medicine to fight my fever. Other than that I think we are well off, even if our house is hot hot like a tater tot!

As for conference, that's a yes and no. We watched it at church, but the sound in the chapel kept going off so we missed a majority of the talks. We finally gathered around a tube TV with the other Elders to watch the remainder of the morning session but that's it. Afternoon session was worse because I had an awful stomach ache and I ended up vomiting. Yes, that is why my header is Puke-ahontas! I am her. It sucked! My comp and I ate at this super nice bakery called "Pão da Hora," which looked safe and delicious but we both got sick. She didn't vomit but I did. She recovered before I got sick so I think it was food poisoning but I ended up missing all of conference yesterday because I had a fever and I was weak. As of now, I am feeling a lot better but this morning I felt weak. Ibuprofen is helping me a lot though :)
Enough of my illness let me tell you the awesome things from this week! On Thursday we did a lot of work! At first it went really slow since we didn't find much success, but then the Lord blessed us so greatly, such as we found a few potential investigators including a family at the grocery store. We went there in hopes of getting a snack for dinner but instead we found a new contact... which is better than food for missionaries! :D We taught a lot of less-actives and invited them to attend Conference but none of them showed up at the end. We also taught an investigator who refuses to go to church because his ex-girlfriend is a member and his logic is "well your pastor (bishop haha) keeps preaching about love and I can’t love my neighbor so I’m not really worthy to attend am I?" So we're gonna help him with a lesson on Friday and hopefully his heart will soften and he will want to go to church. He really loves the gospel; he just needs the push. Friday was harder since we did weekly planning and the lessons we taught (on the spot teaching) didn't go so well. Some people are reluctant to listen, but they're happy to talk to us. It's ok though, I think every day is a good day unless you're sick. :P 

I am going to try to send photos in another email, let’s see how it goes :) I miss you all very much and I am happy that you are all doing OK. I loved the photos from last week and I’m gonna print out whatever I can today! Also I met Sister Marion last week, forgot to mention that. She knows some Espiritus in Texas apparently! She is really sweet. 

I've got other emails and pics to send. I am well hydrated and the members have fed us well except for p-days and weekly planning, which is OK. I am eating healthy, apples, passion fruit and grapes along with my supplements.  

Man, The Lord really answers prayers! There hasn't been a moment where I haven't felt blessed, even when I got sick. You know, the Elders gave me a blessing after I puked... They did it in Portuguese and at first I wasn't sure if I needed a priesthood blessing but after I vomited, I gave in. But it was one of the most wonderful blessings I've had. The District Leader gave me the blessing. He said that "Seu Pai Celestial está muito animado pra você servir aqui" (which translates to "your Heavenly Father is excited to have you serve") and I've never associated the word excitement with Heavenly Father before.... but with that said, I am more than motivated to serve Him with all my might if He is EXCITED for me! Not that I wasn’t motivated before, but the word excitement means there is a lot in store for me. I know I have a special work here and I will do what it takes to fulfill it. I am thankful for all of the love and support I have back at home and in other places and I can’t wait to hear from you next week.

Love y'all

Sister Espiritu

P.S. The best thing about missionary work is this... even though I was tired, sweaty, and I could feel the mosquitos feasting on my legs, I didn't care because I was listening to the needs of my investigators/less actives and I forgot about myself entirely. It’s so great whenever I visit someone and I could forget about myself. It's a real blessing from the Lord. He helps us missionaries forget our troubles when we are doing our best to teach the gospel. That's why we can manage the heat and everything else with it! Also, one day my feet were hurting so bad and we were walking through downtown... and just as i was about done, I heard some noises and the next shop had BIRDS! So I took a minute break with my companion to admire the cockatiels and lovebirds before we continued on our way. Small miracles make the difference!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week 3 - Made it to Cuiaba!

April 1, 2014
YOOOOO GUESS WHAT! I am in the field safe and sound right now! I am soooo happy to be in Cuiaba but it’s really hot since it’s, well… Satan’s armpit! Just kidding you know! 
Guess where my first area is?!

DOURADOS! It’s so funny because my CTM comp and I drove with the mission president (that’s what happens when you give chocolates, you get first class seating with the pres! HAHA) and I told him about how I went to Dourados to visit friends once with my mom five years ago and he said "Really?! Wow do you know where you´ll be serving?" and then that’s how I found out where my first area was; so long story short, always bring chocolates to your mission president because miracles happen. Plus lots of prayers and faith. My trainer is Sister Pence (I think that’s how you spell it) and she’s American so its gon b good :)

Still haven’t figured out the sheets and no excess baggage charge was necessary so basically everything is well and safe. I´ll get to the bottom of it at Dourados and give the sheets to some needy members.

I miss yáll but i have to cut this short since other missionaries are waiting their turn to send emails. This means no pics again this week but I’ve got lots of good photos. I saw the World Cup Stadium and there’s a game there right now! so it’s the! Also, my comp took the best selfie EVER. It fit all my photo bombing district and also... it makes Ellen’s selfie at the Oscars look like some cheap mirror selfie! SUCKERS! 

Pray for the Lima (Peres?!) family, mom. They will be my first reference! I hope I can at least practice teaching them. We´ll see. I´m excited.

Love you all so much! gotta run! BYEEE! :)

-Mari (Sister Espiritu)

ps: araras here I come! Watch out!