Friday, December 9, 2011


Dear Family,
Happy December! I was thinking about the cold weather and I realized that I don´t miss it! When we had zone conference and stayed in a hotel in Parnaiba, the shower had hot water. It was the first hot water shower I had taken in over a month and it was terrible! Anyways, I hope you are staying warm.

This last week was a slower week. We had transfers, which is odd because it was the second week of the transfer, but this mission operates on a Brazilian time schedule. Better late than never. Anyways, our district leader was transferred, and we miss him terribly. He would often call to check up on us, and he was a great support to my companion during her first transfer training. They would often talk on the phone for almost an hour.... maybe this transfter was a good thing.
Anyways, he is a great missionary and a true gentleman. Where ever he goes, he will be an asset to the area.
We have had more difficulties with Otavio, he had a relapse of addiction and so his baptismal date has been pushed back. It is easy to get discouraged with addictions, I could tell that he was really struggling with the fact that he had slipped up. I just wish we could all have this great eternal perspective, and see that while we do mess up, we can also fix it! But if we all had an eternal perspective like that, missionaries wouldn´t be so necessary.
Also this week, we were talking to a recent convert about patriarchal blessings. What a wonderful thing to help us realize our potential. I know that this too, is part of our eternal perspective. We are really capable of doing great things, great things that take more than a day to accomplish.

Last week in an email from Auntie Kristin, she asked me what similarites and diffrences Sister Borges and I have.
1) She is also a nurtruing soul. She has a mother´s personality and takes care of everybody. It is great!
2) all of her siblings are married
3) she went to college before her mission - studying biology.

1) She is brazilian. She speaks portuguese, and is often more blunt that I am.
2) She doesn´t like chocolate.
3) Sister Borges writes in cursive, I don´t

we are getting along very well now, I am going to be sad to be transferred! Our time is up in January, as that will the be the end of the 3 month training period. We shall see what transpires then.

Awesome experience of the week:
Ana Carla. The other sisters met her at the grocery store and she lives in our area. After our first meeting with her, we asked her if there was anything she would like to pray for to say thank you for. She said - yes! this moment with you. This book of Mormon could change my life, so this moment could mean a lot for me.
Pretty neat. I am glad that we have awesome experiences too.

I love you all!
Happy December
Sister Smith

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Family,

This last week has been a busy one! I hope that dinner was delicious, shopping was safe and fruitful, and that the chocolates are done and beautiful! Phew, that is a lot to do. And this is just the beginning of the holiday season, good luck:)

We had zone conference this last week. We traveled to Parnaiba, a four hour bus ride on Thursday afternoon, and a seven hour ride back on friday night/saturday morning. I have now seen the Sobral bus station at almost every hour of the day. Zone conference was good, I met an elder who has only been in Brazil for three days. Someone who speaks less Portuguese than I do. It makes me wonder how the members here deal with us, they are so patient.
My companion continues to be patient with my language, but everyday is getting a little better. My mistakes have moved beyond the basic stuff, and I am learning more and more how to communicate. Sometimes after I speak, people look at my companion for translation. Or sometimes, she looks at thier confused face and asks them if they would like a repeat. Learning a language like this is humbling, but I wouldn´t trade it for the world. Sometimes I feel blind and lost, but never before have I needed to rely on the guidance of the Spirit to literally lead my by the hand. It isn´t easy , but this experience is invaluable.

Yesterday, we had seven investiators come to church. It was pretty cool. Oitavio is our newest and most promising investigator. The second time we taught him, we asked him if he would pray, and he asked us if we could kneel with him. And then we asked if we could come back to teach him and he asked what time the next day would be best for us. Oitavio is 21, and is recovering from a drug addiction. He lives at home with his parents and older brother and they are all so supportive of him in his recovery. His mother is a gem, she won´t come to chruch but she is welcomes us with open arms because we love her son. His baptism will still be a ways away, because he needs to get rid of any remaining habits first. But the second day we taught him, we asked him about prayer, he told us that with every prayer, it gets better. His desires change. I have high hopes for him, because I can see his sincerity to change.
Amanda, our investigator who is afraid to change, well she is still afraid to change. She has stopped coming and says that she only read in the Book of Mormon because we asked her to. Comparing Amanda, who is so smart, and has percieved success with her current religious state, and comparing Oitavio who needs spiritual healing from the Savior, it amazing how humilty makes a difference. And how change doesn´t need to be scary, it can actually be sought after.

Sister Borges and I continue to work and walk and talk alot everyday with new people. Everyday, when she prays she always says thank you for one more day. I was thinking about that and how one more day, everyday is a gift in our work. For everyone., One more day is a priviledge, what are we going to do with it? I love it.

I have not much time, but I love you! Happy holidays!
Sister Smith

Happy Birthday Sister Borges!!

Dear Family,
I got so many emails this week! thank you!!! it was wonderful to have so much encouragement. I am sorry that I do not have much time and cannot respond to each email, but know that I deeply deeply appreciate the written encouragement. Sometimes, I wonder why I was blessed to have so many people to support me. I see many people that have no hope, or few people that care about them. I have so much joy in my life because of two things, my family and the gospel. But together, I have the deep abiding joy that I read about in the scriptures. Sometimes this Brazil business is really hard, and I am not thrilled. But I always have joy in my life. That makes all the difference in the world. That is why I am here, because I have an indescribable peace in my life that everyone deserves to have. I have also seen examples and evidences of people who have changed thier lives because of the gospel, and I am further encouraged to keep going. If I don´t have many who listen, it doesn´t matter, because I have found out why I am happy. If just me, that is okay.

As you can probably tell, from the ´just me´ talk, Amanda´s baptism didn´t go through. She was baptized into the 7th day Adventist church when she was 12 years old, and she had a great confirmation that she needed to be there. Now, she is waiting for something bigger than what she remembers to be baptized. She is expecting something grand. I don´t know how to help her, but I know that faith is required. She is so smart, and she reads the Bible everyday. She reads everytime we give her an assignment in the Book of Mormon, this girl has so much potential! Hopefully, she can find the faith to realize that this gospel is a good idea. Sometimes, I just want to ask our investigators if they realize why they keep letting the missionaries return. It isn´t because we are fabulous, it is because we have the truth. And it feels good. hmph.

This week was my companion´s birthday, the ward members have been very sweet to her. They love her a lot. That is a sign of a good missionary, when the ward that they are serving in recognizes their service. She is a great people person and Sister Borges has done wonderful things here. Grandpa this week talked about a missionary´s smile. That is so valuable! If we are to ask the members to be aides in our work here, we need to show them that they matter. Anyways, Sister Borges is great at that. Kids love her. The lucky girl has 7 nieces and nephews she is a natural. I made her pizza for her birthday, it was pretty fun. I finally cooked something! Oh, how I miss measuring cups.

This upcoming week warrants a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that everything is delicious and fun. On Thursday, we have a zone conference, a second best but doubly wonderful spiritual feast. I am very excited to see what a zone conference is like in this mission.

This last week we had 31 lessons. That is more than I have had my whole mission, and few of them sadly were with the same person twice. We do not have many people tell us no the first time, but then they avoid us after that. OH the subtlies of passive agressiveness. It knows no culture. It is hard not to get our hopes up when we get to see the same person twice! But, I know that any steps made to be closer to Christ are worth our time and our effort. We have also had a difficult time recently with people who aren´t married. I should be a wedding planner. Hey we have a Bishop who will marry you for free! But the paperwork costs 100$r. hmph. again. We have three or four couples who are just awesome, but the idea of getting hitched is putting a hitch in their getalong.

I must close, but I love you all! I am thankful for my wonderful family this week and I hope you have a happy thanksgiving!
Sister Smith

Elder Bednar part 2

Dear Family,
Hearing from Elder Bednar was fantastic! What a blessing it was to have the extra spiritual energy during a taxing time. I was so thankful that we were able to go, all the sacrifice of sleep and all the bug bites while waiting for the bus were worth it.

Elder Bednar´s talk/instruction was very different from what I expected. The first thing he told us was that before he left Salt Lake, the last thing President Monson told him was to tell the missionaries in Teresina that he loved us and to remind us how often he prays for us. I know that all missionaries are loved and prayed for, but an extra shout out from the Prophet never hurt anyone. He had given two previous talks about faith and had sent them to the mission for us to read them. The majority of the time spent was him asking the missionaries what they had learned from the talks, and how they can apply it. After each missionary volunteered, he would give extra insights and tidbits of wisdom. I wrote a ton of stuff down that I know I will be able to use for the rest of my mission and beyond. He talked a lot about acting in Faith, using the example of Peter walking on the water, he didn´t know he had the power until he stepped off of the boat. We don´t know our capacities until we are in the action. Faith is action and then power. I liked that very much, and wish I had brought my notes to expound more. Nevertheless, it was a perfect instruction for missionaries, and for me. How can i know what I can say in Portuguese until I actually try to speak to someone? A mission is probably a pretty safe place to see what abilities I have through faith.

We had a six hour bus ride to get to Teresina, I had already forgotten how hot it is there! My area in Sobral is also hot, but there is almost always a breeze here, whereas in Teresina there is none. I have a new appreciation for the missionaries who are serving in that zone:)

Our area is doing well, but we have had the majority of our appointments fall through in the last week. One day, we had planned to teach 13 lessons, and only 2 of the originally planned happened. With the fast pace here, if someone isn´t home, it is never clear when or if we will actually get to teach them again. With lots of new faces and new names everyday, it has been tough to create any kind of a bond with most of the people we teach, but I am hopeful that with the spirit, connections can be made quickly. I know that even though I don´t fully understand why things are they way they are here, the direction we have been given is for a purpose. The attitude of many here is to graciously accept us once and avoid us after that, but our message is of such power that there is going to be someone who invites us in a second time. Even though we have a high standard of baptisms, we have not had one in this transfer yet, but we do have a date set with a young woman named Amanda this week. She is already active of her own volition in another christian religion, and her knowledge of the gospel is very impressive. (she has already met with two other sets of missionaries) Her only fear now is to make the change and be judged by her friends. Change is never easy, that is probably my least favorite thing about life! Change is uncomfortable. But hopefully Amanda and I can learn together to accept why change is necessary when it means coming closer to the Lord. She is very smart and has so much potential. I hope her baptism comes through.

Another one of our investigators came to chruch yesterday, his name is Irinilton. He was a reference from another Bishop in Sobral. He lives with his girlfriend and 2 year old daughter, and we have taught the mother once while he was working. She told us that she was not interested, but would not stand in his way. well miracle of all miracles he came to church by himself this week, and was befriended by some of the members. I hope that his example can touch Luciana´s heart and they can continue to have a joyful family experience.

It was fun to meet the rest of the sisters in our mission and some of the elders at this mission conference. It is always a pleasure to meet others who are just incredible missionaries and are working so hard! It is an inspiration to me, to be more like them and work harder. Being in a large group of missionaries is probably one of my favorite things about being one myself.
It has been an awesome week, filled with plenty of disappointment but many spiritual highs as well.
I love you all and hope this week is a good one at home. As you shovel the snow and snuggle with my mom´s flannel, just remember that I am jealous:)
Sister Smith

Elder Bednar part 1

Dear Family,
Well the biggest thing on my horizon is the fact that Elder Bednar is coming to Teresina this weekend! Happy birthday Korin, I get to hear from an apostle:) I am pretty excited about it. Our travel plans are kind of crazy. We leave Sobral at 3 am on Saturday, and will arrive at about 8;30. The meeting starts at 10 and will go to 1, and we get back on a bus to come home at 5:30. So hopefully, we will be home by midnight. Lots of travel, but for a very worthy cause. I can only imagine the logistics that President Dias has had to go through to get this to happen. We have a pretty big mission, and the idea of getting all 100 missionaries together is nuts. This is the first mission wide meeting since the mission began almost three years ago. I am pretty excited.

Our investigators are just like a roller coaster! We are supposed to find 15 new people a week, and get 10 of them to sacrament meeting. The goal is lofty, and we have fallen short both weeks. The hard part is that there are so many people to teach that if they don´t show interest after the second visit, we drop them. I don´t like it, but our time is better spent finding others... I guess? This is direction from our mission president, and he knows best for our mission so I won´t question it. So it is very hard to get to know someone, assess their needs and then never see them again. We had a girl, Leidiani, set for baptism date, and all the sudden she avoided us and then we dropped her. One day, she was five days away from baptism, and the next, we won´t teach her again. Woah! This place moves lightening fast. We have a new investigator named Ana Paula, also a teenager. I really hope she comes through and starts to progress quickly, I like this one:) She seems to be prepared to hear the gospel, I hope and pray everyday that we can touch her life with the change that only Christ can bring.

Last p-day was Halloween which doesn´t mean anything in Brazil. Except that all the stores close. It is kind of like a labor day? huh. So, today we went shopping for the first time. We went to all the stores with made in China stuff that is cheap and gaudy. I have to use up some of the stuff from my toiletries suitcase so I can start accumulating souviners. I mailed some letters last week, but the post office guy said that to get from Sobral to the US, it was going to take 25 days. I have no idea why, and I don´t think they take that long to get to Teresina. The catch is that I only get my letters from the office when my district leaders have meetings or other administrative stuff, so like one or twice a month? Not sure, I don´t really trust elders, especially the ones that I don´t fully understand because they speak Portuguese too fast. hmmm.

I reread my last email. my companion isn´t 14 sorry, typo on an international keyboard! she is 23 right now. her birthday is next week. Sister Borges works really hard, and she knows the people here really well. I have come to the realization that it doesn´t matter how I am treated, it matters how I treat people. I had a thought one day of, you know she is a daughter of Heavenly Father, and is in pretty good standing seeing as how she is a missionary right now. I better stay on my toes, and treat her like the precious being that she is. Most days, I remember, and the other days I pray to remember that. The language barrier is discouraging, but we can always communicate through service and kind actions.

It is still hot here, and everyone is decorating for Christmas already. Trees and all!
Well, I love you! Hope you all have a great week!
sister smith

It's hot, but I haven't melted yet

Dear Family,
I am more person than puddle, most of the time. I have yet to find a love for the heat or the humidity! We walk 10 to 12 miles a day, in this heat of the equator, but at least I don´t need moisturizer!

So my area is Junco, which includes three neighborhoods just outside of Sobral. These neighborhoods have lots of hills, up and down, up and down, and then up and down some more. I very much appreciate a flat road now days. The people here are mostly nice, and when you ask someone if we can meet with them later with thier family, the answer is almost always a yes. Keeping comittments is the problem most often, because everybody says that they will come to church, but few actually do. This week we must have had 30 people say that they would come, but 4 came. That is okay, church is really cool, and the ward is here is very nice. There are many teenagers who are the only converts in their families and the youth group here is huge. I would say that the ward has about 100 active people, with quite a few that are less active. As missionaries here, we do not work too much with less active families which bums me out, but the work here is different.
My poor trainer, I struggle sometimes when we do things that I don´t understand. The other day, she asked someone to return the Book of Mormon we gave them because they weren´t progressing as an investigator. I would have never known that that was acceptable, and I still don´t know that I like it too much. There are so many people here willing to hear our message that those who aren´t right away ready aren´t too much of a worry. This is something new to me, but I will adjust, and it just means that I need to work harder to make connections with people in the first visits to make them stick.
My trainer´s name is sister borges, she is from São Paulo. Her family was baptized when she was 13, and she will be 14 on the 17th of november. Speaking of birthdays, happy birthday Auntie Rae yesterday! I hope your day was fun and relaxing. My trainer just transitioned from being a junior companion to being a trainer, so I think that the change is harder than she thought. It can´t be easy to go around with a confused white girl all the time that you can´t talk with too well. So, keep my companion in your prayers, because I think she needs the extra boost. I worry and feel awful that I am not more help, but with the temporal distractions of heat, language, hills, and all that other new missionary adjustment, I am just a mess! We will get there. here in the mission the training program is now 2 transfers, so we have a while to figure it out.

The ward missionaries are just outta sight wondeful. There is one girl, Glacie, she is 18 and the only member of her family. She will go with us for hours when we need member present lessons. She is such a trooper and reminds me of brooke and alexis. I just love her to bits.

We live in a 3 bedroom house with another sister companionship. Sister Johnson is from tooele, and she goes home in 2 months. She is a big help when i have a question that needs to be clarified in a langauge other than portuguese. Sister Viera has been a member for 2 years, and a missionary for 1. The missionary that baptized her was my MTC teacher, small world huh? She is amazing because her desire to continue on is so strong. She gives me hope for the young people of this ward and the people we teach.

I am adjusting. I am only slightly sunburned and have only a dozen bug bites so far. We can walk around with umbrellas here to shade from the sun, which is a very good thing. Oh, the sun rises here everyday at 5 am. I still think that this is really weird.
I am a little less confused and lonely than I was last week, and I am starting to get used to the idea that I get to do this for a time. Hopefully one day, I will come home not just having endured another day, but having enjoyed it too. I just have to remember to be patient until that day.
I love you all and thank you for your prayers and emails!
Sister Smith

Brazil. It is hot here

Dear Family,
yes, my mother dear, I did arrive safely in Teresina. The 12 hour flight to SãoPaulo was long, but there were over 30 missionaries on the flight. It was very fun to see all of my friends from the MTC and hear about reassignments. When we got to the airport, there was someone from the church there to help us out with passports and all that jazz. I don´t know why, but we did not go through customs, and everything went through quickly and smoothly.
Presidente and Sister Dias picked me up from the airport and took me to lunch, this was probably about 4pm. then they dropped me off at a hotel accross town where i could rest and shower for a few hours. It was incredibly strange to be all by myself for the first time in four months. in a foreign country where everyone speaks REALLY fast! I was not thrilled, but it was very nice to take a nap. The assistants picked me up from the hotel for dinner and we ate with the Dias family. Luckily one of the assistants was American, and Sister Dias said that I looked tired and that he needed to translate for me. I wish that was the case everyday. People in Teresina speak really fast.
The second day, I was supposed to meet a set of elders in the hotel lobby at 7 am. They were two and a half hours late, and i just waited, and waited, and waited some more. I was all alone in a hotel across town, where I couldn´t go anywhere or speak to pretty much anyone. I was thankful to see them, and they both are Brazilian, so they should be thankful that I can´t betrate them in Portuguese yet! We went all over the city in taxis that day to get my passport and visa authorized and to get me a temporary id. it took the better part of the day, and then the sisters in Teresina came to the mission office to pick me up where i have been staying since friday night.
I will be serving in Junco, a town just outside of Sobral. It is a six hour bus ride from Teresina, and my companion (who is Brazilian but I cannot remember her name right now) will arrive tomorrow morning for us to ride together. I have heard that it is just as hot, but that the place i will be staying is nice.
So, for the past three days, I have been with Sister Fisher and Sister Aguiar. Sister Aguiar speaks so fast my head spins, but she is kind. Sister Fisher actually served her reassignement in Montana as well, and she has been an asset to help me along for the first few days. She just served in Junco and said that has been her favorite area. here in Teresina, we walk everywhere. Everyday, we walk between 45 mintues to an hour to get to an appointment. So each appointment takes three hours. one to walk there, one to teach and one to walk back or somewhere else. I hopefully will learn to endure the heat better:)
I don´t have many details yet about where I will serve my first area, but I am sure that the email next week will be chalk full of details.
for now, pray for my success, I miss you all a ton!
Sister Smith

Brazil! It's really here!

Dear Mom and Dad,
I got a phone call from my mission president about an hour ago telling me that my visa has come and that I will be going to Brazil next Wednesday. Sister Ricks also received her visa and we will be traveling as far as Sao Paulo together. Can you believe that tender mercy? I am so glad that I will get to fly all that way with her, it will prove to be a long day.
President Garner will pick us up in Helena on Tuesday night, and we will leave the mission home at 4 am the next morning for the airport.

I hope that this email finds you well and excited. I can't believe it. Just like when I was in the MTC and found out that I was going to Billings Montana and I couldn't believe it. But this reassignment has been the best thing to happen to me, so I can only imagine this change will be the same.
I love you and will talk to you next week!