Monday, May 26, 2014

Week 11: Elephant Graveyard

May 26, 2014


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!

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?!
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


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