Thursday, September 6, 2012

April emails from oldest to newest

Generally, a great Conference!  [sent on 02 April 2012]

Dear Family,
it was such a thrill to watch conference and see the tulips on temple square. It looked really warm and sunny. Are you sure that you had winter there? What a wierd year. Is it heating up, or it is still a quite cool and rainy spring?
Here it is still raining. Last week, we had a car intentionally drive by and splash us. My companion went to say a few choice words, but then looked at my dripping ponytail, and decided that it was funny. It was funny. I can chalk it up to mission experience. And so the sister missionaries had a baptism this week,  OURS! If only that was where our bad luck stopped, the next day my companion, bless Sister Moda´s heart, face planted while we here crossing the street. She really banged up her knee. The next day she was walking along just fine, and then I asked how her knee was feeling. THEN she started limping again. Well, she has mended well since then. I am pretty convinced that the
Lord gives us super healing strength on a mission for the normal bumps and bruises.
I loved conference. Especially Elder David Evans talk when he mentioned writing letters to missionaries. That was very appropriate. I heard a lot of counsel on how to raise a family, and I thought of how I indeed have a testimony today because of the priorities my parents had when I was small. I just cried during Elder Anderson´s talk about the miracle of those three children. Elder Rasband´s talk
too, but  they were good tears:)
It was interesting to hear the talks about forgiving others in our families and how disputes just aren´t worth it. I have no disputes, but I can certainly improve when I want to hold grudges. I love conference, I can´t wait to read the messages over and over again.
I have a testimony of Prophets. I know that President Monson is our prophet today and what a blessing that is! What a life saver.
I love you all and wish you the very best of weeks in the midst of post conference glow.

Eye single to the glory of God  [sent on 09 April 2012]

Dear Family,
What a week! First of all Happy Easter! I hope that everyone had a great Sunday. I heard that everyone liked the easter egg hunt at Grandpa´s house, I am already looking forward to next year when I can help the little ones dye eggs again:)
Our Easter here was calm, Friday before is some kind of big deal in the Catholic religion, All Saints day? is that correct? But nobody can play music, and nobody goes to work. The streets were DEAD. It was so weird to walk aroud without samba music.
We baptized two people this week. Yay! I didn´t fail as a trainer, we baptized! I can´t even tell you the relief that I felt after the baptism. Elizângela was baptized, she decied on Thursday. We were talking about another baptism, and she asked, when is mine? Um... asap:) and it was. On Sunday, and it was great. I love baptisms because the spirit is so strong. We also baptized Vitoria, the young girl who was just ready. What a great Easter gift.
On Wednesday night, my companion walked into our room and said that she couldn´t see anything in one of her eyes. She literally went temporary blind in her right eye. This of course happened at 11 pm when we called President Dias. After 20 minutes her vision returned, but it was scary! The next morning she had an eye exam and everything
was normal. The doctor asked her if she had high cholestorol, because sometimes fat in the blood stream will pass in front of the eye. hmm, never heard of that in my life. Anyways she´ll have a blood test this week, but other than that, all is well.
After the fact, I asked her if it is easier to have your eyes single to the glory of God if you only have one that works. Hence my subject line. I am such a compassionate companion.
But I am so glad that she got better. Bless her heart. I can only imagine how her mother will react. oh sickies on a mission are the worst!
Our week has been eventful needless to say.
Well I best be off, I love you all! have a great week!
Sister Smith

We have our eyesight back!  [sent on 16 April 2012]

Dear Family,

I cannot believe that April is already half over, time is really beginning to fly by. We are now in our fourth week of our second transfer in Sobral 1. Time stops for no man, huh?

How are things at home? how is the weather? I still think about tulips and how I am missing them this year.

I am glad to hear that Xane got a scholarship to byu -- congrats! And Korin is really tall (this was inevitable)

Tomorrow we have interviews with our mission president, I am quite nervous as this is my first interview with him as a trainer and as a senior companion. Since I have all the responsibility, I also have the opportunity to be corrected... A LOT. I am nervous. But all I have to do is cry, sister missionaries are good at that:) We are all in a tizzy here because sister borges is going home on May 1st. She is getting ready to go, buying her last minute souvenirs and having all sorts of fun in her area. Oh boy, my companion is going nuts because Sister Borges is going home to São Paulo, so close to where she lives! I remember when the american sister I lived with went home, it nearly killed me too:)

Yesterday, Elizangela was confirmed, I sent a picture of her today with the email, thanks to my companion. Her baptism was such a miracle, I am so thankful that I was able to be here to see it. Everytime we visit her, there is a marked change in her countenance. That is why I am a missionary!

We just started teaching this guy named Ailton. His wife is already a member. She was baptized as a teenager, and had a boyfriend who was a missionary. she waited for him for 2 years, and then married Ailton instead. but now Leiliane (his wife) wants to come back to church and they are both super jazzed about the gospel. I am so excited for them, it is a priviledge to see them grow. I love being a missionary because I can see the potential of those I teach. I can imagine Ailton in five years, with a shirt and tie, and a calling helping the ward grow. this is how Heavenly Father feels about me, huh? He sees my potential with an eternal family, growing in the Celestial Kingdom. I don´t understand what it like to be a parent, but I do love helping people realize their potential for happiness here.

Saturday was my companion´s birthday. The ward here was really sweet, everybody told her happy birthday yesterday at church. Even our dear stake president, who doesn´t even like us, came up and told her happy birthday. (short story, when we ate lunch at his house, we ate, left a message and even shortly visited with him and his family ... all in 23 minutes. What a record) No, I love our leadership here. Sister Moda had a great birthday, the other sisters surprised her with a delicious brownie cake thing. I love having companions who have birthdays - I get to eat cake too!

Well, my time is about up, but I love you all!

Have a GREAT week!



lucky 13  [sent on 23 April 2012]

Dear Family,
how is the weather in April? Aunt Rae said that it is time for sandals and warm 80 degree weather! Phew I feel like I need my sweater when it is 80 degrees. I am glad to hear that there are many yard projects in full swing. I imagine that Uncle Brad is getting ready to plant Mother´s day flowers soon!
Brazil doesn´t have marigolds or petunias. But there are lots of beautiful flowers and fruits here. Has anyone ever seen a passion fruit? Man are they UGLY and SOUR. but with lots of sugar the  juice is delicious. And it makes you sleepy. Imagine a meal of rice and beans (just carbs) with Maracujá (passion fruit). it is hard to survive without naps some days:)
Well this week we baptized Isabely. She is such a great kid. I am somewhat ashamed to announce that I have  participated in the baptism of another minor, but what are you going to do? Isa has a brother who is already a member, and she is very excited to go to church. She really likes her primary teacher. Her mother has four children and her
father is in prison, and will be for the next three or four years.
Their home is very humble, but all are very accepting.
This upcoming week we are going to baptize Ailton. His wife is a member and she explains everything for him. She has even told him to stop with his coffee addiction before we taught the word of wisdom. Yesterday, in Gospel Principles, we learned about the priesthood. He was really interested, and liked the idea of being able to serve his future family. (can you spell PREPARED?) so that was pretty awesome.
We have transfers next week, so we will see what happens. We have three sisters going home and three coming in. When you only have 12 sisters, that is a big change! so, i´ll keep you posted.
Have a great week, I love youall!
Sister smith

will I stay or will I go?  [sent on 30 April 2012]

Dear Family,
I always forget that transfers come at the end of Pday, and so I still don´t know what is going to happen! Sister Borges went home today, she grabbed a bus at 3 am to go to Teresina. Phew! But being in the same house after living with her for six months is downright depressing:) a silly reason to disire a transfer. but no, I am doing great. If I get
to stay in Sobral, I know that we are going to have a lot of blessings and wonderful experiences. and if I get transferred, well then, I will learn a lot too!
We had a really cool experience this week with a reference of a member. We met a lady in another ward who wanted us to visit her younger sister. So, away we went to find that the road wasn´t where we thought it would be. We got lost. On to the next! But the next day, we stopped to eat something close to where we would have a lesson and the waitress started to talk to us. She asked if we were Mormons and if we
knew her sister. You guessed it, it was the very same  Caroline we had been looking for. Tummies can lead us to find people too:) I just know that we are directed in everything we do, and if I just follow my feet, and keep walking, the Lord will put people in my path.
I have reached an all time low with Coca-cola. We drink a lot. It is embarrassing how many empty bottles we throw away each week. I t is my goal to only drink soda once a day. By the way, Brazilians think it is terrible manners to serve lunch with water. it is always soda or juice. And the members know we like Coke. Oh dear. haha. they are too
good to us. Anyways, I really miss water with my meals, when we eat dinner at home my companion asks `´ are you really going to just drink water with that?!``
My companion and I spoke in our ward yesterday. I spoke first and I only spoke the perscribed 5 minutes. My companion gets up to give her prepared 5 minute talk and the counselor of the bishop leans over and says, 15 minutes, okay Sister Moda? she did great at expounding the word. What ever a missionary says about missionary work is good stuff and members will eat it up.
Reactions to emails : who caved and let Taci have a cat?
xane graduated and likes BYU, Xane you are old.
Grandpa likes spring. I miss spring because I miss the smell of freshly cut grass too:)
I love you all! Have a great week!

March emails from oldest to newest

eternal summer!  [sent on 05 March 2012]

Dear Family,
How is this week, with the exciting snow? are you looking forward to springtime? It is kind of strange to think that the first week of March has snow on the ground. Here it is still warm. It is always warm. The otherday, the weather forecast said it was only going to reach 34 that day. Phew, I thought, today won´t be that toasty! haha, 34 is like 92 degrees. Now the low 90´s seem  managable. It amazing
how the Lord blesses our mindset. Last week it was 22 one day, I was cold!
The area is good, big but good. We walk a lot, a lot more than I did in my first area. I am always hungry because we walk all day. I don´t think that I am still losing weight, because all of the sudden I am always starving and the members of this ward actually feed us snacks! In my last area, we never had snacks during the day because nobody
offered. Should be a commandment: thou shalt feed the missionaries. good policy.
Everybody keeps asking me about carnival. It was lame. Sobral is a big city, I am assuming it has a wikipedia page. If Townsend Montana has a wikipedia page, Sobral will for sure. But it was not a party central city, and so we just went home early for almost a week. Everybody was home, but drinking and so not many lessons were taught. I did make
really good cinnamon rolls one day, but that was the highlight of the biggest holiday in Brazil. Easter is big here too, I am excited to see what March brings.
Our investigators are doing well. Our baptism fell through, Elisangela has a husband who is verbally abusive and very selfish. I want to kick him. But she was only going to be baptized to please him, not because she had a testimony. She has never even prayed on her own. And so, we shall see. We are going to continue to teach her.
Lêda is awesome. She recieved a priesthood blessing this week, and her faith is amazing. The next day, she said she felt so much better (she has been sick for a few weeks) and she knew it was because of the priesthood. I am pretty excited, she has a baptismal date this week. We are continuing. This is a busy time for us, what a blessing!
I know that I am so blessed to be here to share the gospel with people. I know that the Lord loves us and loves his children all over the world. What a joy to share with others. The Lord is very aware of our family, and I know we are in good hands.
I love you all!

Happy Birthday to Taci!  [sent on 12 March 2012]

Dear Family,
As today is the lugubrious occasion of Taci´s birthday, I must
highlight her just a tad. using the word lugubrious should do the trick. Happy Birthday Taci.
Well, this week should be a great one! I love birthday weeks. I have decided that we shouldn´t just have a day, but a whole week, and so I will enjoy the emails with wishes today, and expect wishes from others next week who missed their chance today. A whole week!
OH as a side note, I got a huge envelope with Christmas letters from the Mt. Jordan 1st Ward relief society and young men´s yesterday. I felt so loved! (everytime it said Merry Christmas, I just put Happy Birthday) It was a great hug from home. So Mom and Dad, please tell everyone that I was thrilled and very touched. Does our ward have any
other missionaries out right now?
Yesterday was Stake Conference here in Sobral. there were a ton of people there. This stake isn´t very old, it was a district until 2007. How awesome that I get to be here to help it grow. Sobral is a city of 200,000 people, imagine how many stakes there could be here! Lots and lots. I have already decided that one day Sobral will have its own mission and I will have a relative serve here. Anyways, Stake Conference was awesome. they called a new stake young mens and women´s presidencies and they spoke to the youth.   I know that I am not in Young Women´s anymore, but I love to hear leaders speak to the youth. They really  are so special! I wish I had spent more time enjoying such specific instruction. Korin and Xane - enjoy your time in the youth programs, you will never have such special instruction for YOU again.
We met a woman named Fatima this week. She is an older lady, who has always been accepting of what ever religion. She says that, almost everyday, someone comes to her house to preach the word of God. She is just looking for truth. When we stopped by, she even told us, ´´Oh the
Jehovah´s witnesses girls are coming this afternoon, is that a problem if you two are still here?´´ Oh nope, it isn´t (thank heavens they never showed up!) Needless to say, Fatima has a lot of people telling her what is and isn´t true about God.
As my companion ( who is doing wonderful by the way) was inviting her to pray about Joseph Smith, the Spirit whispered to me ``Heavenly Father wants her to have the truth too`` I just know that she is going to get an answer. She is a pretty special lady.
I am doing good. Ate liver this week for lunch with the ward member´s neighbor who is a transvestite. Then I ate avacado ice cream ( I chose the latter) and then I had a tummy ache. But I got better. And what an interesting day.
Sarita (the neighbor) was a sight to behold, but he/she was very nice.
I am looking forward to a great week! Happy birthday Taci!!

a 95 degree birthday!  [sent on 17 March 2012]

Dear Family,
first things first, I will no longer get letters or packages sent to
the mission office address. (well if it has already been sent I will recieve the letters, but from now on...)
The only address I can use now is the following;
Mario a Dias
A/C Sister Taralyn Smith
CP 2321 Teresina PI
Cep 64001-973
But my week was good, thank you for the birthday wishes!
Saturday, the sisters made me a birthday cake. It was my favorite flavor too :burnt! But no, it was very sweet of them, I appreciated the thought. The rest of my day, the Lord gave me a birthday present too: almost nothing fell through. Almost everyday half or more of our plans fall through (some days ALL) but Saturday was a great day to work. I was very thankful.
The work continues to be good, I am thankful to still be here in the city of Sobral. We have four wards here, and everybody knows everybody. Members from other wards think that I have been here forever! But I enjoy getting to know the stake leaders as well. our ward mission leader is brand new and really awesome. His name is Robson, and he has been home from his mission for less than a year. He
is always planning activities for investigators and firesides to get the members here excited about the work. He is doing a great job... and he has the patience of Job with me. Sometimes, I still get lost or confused about the language, but he is very patient. Robson is awesome. He served in the São Paulo south mission.
This week we met a family who are just awesome. Thais and Osmar are legally married (yay!) and they live away from thier families. Thais has a brother who was baptized in another city about six months ago and her mom is now taking the missionary lessons as well. Osmar just found a job after being unemployed for over a year. Thais was able to
quit her job so that she can stay home with her 8 month old son. I am pretty excited about getting to know them better and helping them recognize the blessings of the Lord in their lives.
My companion Sister Moda is a joy. She has a great sense of humor and she even knows about costco. Can you believe it? She went to the US and stayed with a family friend there and when I said something about my Mom working at this really cool place called costco, she said ´´wow! your mom works at Costco?`´    -- she is good people.
Things are awesome, thank you for the birthday wishes.
I love you all!
have a great week,
Love Sister Smith

a win for the rookie  [sent on 26 March 2012]

Dear Family,
Spring is in full swing! is it still snowing? When I watch general conference, will I be able to see tulips on temple square? I can´t tell you how excited I am for general conference. I will be watching in English, because there is the other American sister here who doesn´t speak much portuguese, and her companion doesn´t speak english. And so, divisions. The two of us will sit in another room in the church and watch. I am kinda bummed, it would be awesome to sit with the members. but takin´ one for the team. And in my heart of hearts, it will be nice to understand every little word, not just the general idea.
I am sad to hear about Aunt Tawna, but she is finally  resting. I certainly have a testimony of the Plan of Salvation, and I know that she is finally free of a body with many limitations. Please send a hug and a kiss to their family this week. I am praying extra for them. It is okay to cry and to be sad, but we have such blessings to look forward to one day!
My week was good, it rained a lot. I think that it is still a little
warm here, but I guess I will never stop complaining about the heat. We had a miracle this week.
Victoria came to church with her dad, and they told the bishop that she wants to be baptized. She is 10 years old, and her dad is already a member. They just moved from Rio de Janeiro. Her mom passed away two years ago. When we went to explain stuff, she pulled out her book of Mormon, already highlighted in various places.  She just needs an
interview and a white jumpsuit. She will be baptized after General Conference. I am certain that the Lord knew we needed miracles this week.
My companion is struggling with homesickness, and this week she just cried and cried about her purpose here. And then I started to cry that I lost a loved one and was training and super stressed. And so we prayed and prayed for a miracle and that we could walk with angels this week. I know that we needed to grow first, and then we were given
someone elect. A mission is just like that sometimes. Tears are the miracle grow.
I made cake mix cookies this week, they were a hit. I taught a couple of members the recipe, and they were amazed. You can make cookies like that? It is pretty expensive to make cookies here, things like shortening and baking soda are rare and pricey. Yay utah recipies!
We were refused by an investigator who has decided that the Jehovah´s witnesses are cooler than us. I wanted to cry. Sobral has a ton, A TON! of Jehovah´s witnesses. Bless their hearts, it is great to spread the good word. But why do you have to trash talk the Mormons? Sigh. Opposition in all things.
We even had two come to our door early one morning. the four of us answered with our name tags on, it was a shock to them to say the least. They didn´t ask to come in.
Well, have a good week. I am sorry that it is tinged with sadness.
I love you all!
Sister Smith

February emails from oldest to newest

Zone conference in Sobral  [sent on 06 Feb 2012]

Dear Family,
This week passed by very rapidly! We had zone conference here in Sobral, with just our zone. It was only 12 missionaries, teeny tiny. I like to learn, President Dias is a very good teacher. He was an institute director in Sao Paulo before he came to Teresina. But, he does like to ask me every five minutes if I am understanding. I always think, well I thought I was! Do I look confused? For some reason, my
Portuguese skills decline rapidly in his presence. I get so nervous.  Whatever. I am actually speaking much better now. I can even talk on the cell phone, that is a big step, especially since it is voluntary. He talked about teaching doctrine before teaching commandments and extending invitations. People need to understand the why first. And
also, I think, it is easier to recognize eternal truth when learning about the doctrines in the scriptures. Telling someone that they can´t smoke is not as effective as telling them that their body is sacred and they need to take care of not smoking. I think so anyways.  This week we didn´t teach as many lessons. Last week when we taught
40, the other sisters taught 44. Our district had a goal of 150,  but the other companionships ( elders... sigh) only had 23 between them. What were they doing?! but this week we only had about 18 lessons so I guess I can be compassionate. This week is all abuzz about transfers. I haven´t had a change of area or companion since I got here in October, so for surzies something will change this next week. I am excited to see what will come about. The only thing I know for sure is that I don´t want responsibility. Nope nope.
Oh this week I met a crazy lady. She asked us if we were Evangelists or selling Avon. Neither. But she sat me down, and told me that God is Two. Two of what I am not sure. And then she told me that Adam and Eve had 15 children, but hid 10 of them, that is why we only know about five of them. Oh and she told me that Catholics ask God for things,
the rest of the world asks the Catholics to ask for them. So much information! I counted this as a lesson for me as the recipient. Sister Borges started talking to her neighbor and left me to talk.. or rather listen to this crazy for another ten minutes. I just told her to pray some more. The young women had new beginnings this week. Oh how I love young
womens! We were able to go because we took two of our investigators, it was awesome. And we all know that this is the best activity of the year for refreshments.
Well I best be going.
I am so glad to be here, and even in the weeks without baptisms or life altering encounters, looking up not sideways will make a difference.
I love you all! and I love this gospel!

Carnival is upon us.  [sent on 13 Feb 2012]

Dear Family,
Transfers are this week. Supposedly today, but we have yet to hear anything. My companion has already been here for four transfers, so I think she is a goner. But this will be my fourth transfer here, so who knows? Really nobody. I am looking forward to change. Nothing spurs the work forward like a fresh face or place.
We have just been sitting here waiting, but we have been working too. This last week we met a young man in a pharmacy who lives in our area. He is cool, but his sister is AWESOME! She is legally married (yay!) and is very excited to recieve our visits. Izamara seems like she is going to accept the gospel, I am really excited to get to know her
We are continuing to work with a family who are want to get baptized. Natalia the mother, has six children, and one grandson. sheesh. Her husband is in prison for abuse. their lives are not easy, but they are changing before our eyes. Talita, the fourteen year old, was having trouble recieving an answer to prayer about Joseph Smith. I asked her how she felt about reading the book of Mormon, and she told me ´I just feel light´ I explained that one witness is a witness to the other, and she was so excited.  Talita has a baptism date on Feb 26th. Sometimes being here is hard, but when I can help someone see the truth, all of the hard stuff seems to melt away. Talita is pretty special.
We met a friend of hers this week to pretty much offered to be baptized, Maria Antonia. We will have to see what happens, but she too seems pretty excited to learn more.
Oh heart break too! Ribamar, our shining star has returned to his old alcoholic ways. That day was worse than a kick in the teeth. But ward members are determined to visit him, and I hope he can turn around. I just know that he is feeling crummy about himself right now, and I hope we can help him see that he still has great worth. We just have mistakes to learn.
This week I read a conference talk by Elder Holland and he talked about the role of the gospel. It is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  The comfortable can always improve and the afflicted can always be healed. I liked this thought a lot. We need affliction for lasting conviction.
I am not sure what will come about with transfers, I am in denial and will not pack until I recieve a phone call.
I am not sure what will happen with Ribamar, but I will not give up on him either.
There is so much unknown, but being a missionary, change and unknown come with the territory.
I hear that there is snow this week! Enjoy the winter, I am still jealous!
I love you all!
Sister Smith

A very quick transfer.  [sent on 20 Feb 2012]

Dear Family,
And so I was transferred after all! To another bedroom in the same house and to another ward in the same stake. I went from Junco to Sobral 1. The area is significantly bigger, because it is the center of the city. Good thing I like to walk now.
My companion is brand new in the mission field. I am still a little surprised that President Dias decided that I was ready to train. But here we go! I was thinking about the hymn ´I´ll go where you want me to go´ and there is the line that says  - So trusting my all to thy tender care, and knowing thou lovest me-- Well the Lord has put Sister Moda in my ´tender´ care. I hope I can do a good job. The Lord is
counting on me to help her make it through this transition and to help her love her mission. Her family too is expecting her to have a good trainer. Sheesh! I have another person to answer to! Her mom! Oh I better do a good job, it is never a good idea to let down a missionary momma.
So with this added responsibility, I am a little stressed, but I know that I am going to grow a lot through this experience in a new area with a new companion. A sister in the ward yesterday said we walked down her street looking all confused with the map. Yup, that is us! Sister Moda is very patient.
And so, all about her.-- Mariana Moda is from Campinas, close to the temple there, in the state of São Paulo. She is the third of four kids, and the third to serve a mission in Brazil. Awesome! Her younger brother is getting ready to put papers in right now. She graduated from college with a degree in education and she already went to Disneyworld in Florida. Don´t worry I totally have pictures in Disneyland, we share a love of Mickey. I told you she was a good egg. She doesn´t speak any english, but she is excited to start learning!
This is the first time since I have been in Brazil that I am the more chatty one during lessons, I think she is a little nervous. Totally normal at first.
Sister Borges, my trainer, is still in the Junco ward, and she is
training again too! She is training an American. Bless Sister Miller´s heart. She doesn´t speak very much portuguese, but her attitude is incredible. She tries so hard everyday.
I would tell you about our investigators, but we don´t have any. Also an awesome challenge. Yay for new areas! But a great opportunity to teach Sister Moda how to talk to people on the street to find investigators.
I was put here for a reason. And all things happen for a reason. I have great faith in the Lord´s timing. I am so thankful for eternal families. I love my family so much, and it is a priviledge to teach other people about the principle of forever. I am determined to work extra hard, with the provided help of my newest gaurdian angel. Keep your chins up this week. Remember that I am praying for you, and
missionary prayers are extra potent. And hey! There are double missionary blessings right now for our family, so be sure to use them.
I love you!
Sister Taralyn Smith

almost march!  [sent on 27 Feb 2012]

Dear Family,
You all sound like you are doing well. I am so glad to hear it. I am so thankful for the temple and that we are a forever family. I feel very priviledged to be able to tell other people about this peace that we can have through the gospel.
This week has been a busy one. The biggest miracle was that I didn´t look at a map yesterday! Hooray! for being in a new area with a brand new companion, things have been slow to start, but this is normal. I have had a lot of feelings of inadequacy, I don´t know why the Lord thought that it was going to be a good idea for me to be training in a new area. But the Lord calls us to do things that test our limits, so
we can trust in Him. There are many days where I am amazed at what we were able to accomplish, with the limited skills and experience I have. I am so thankful that we believe in a God of miracles. He sure have sent a lot my way. Be rest assured, I am still in His tender care, in the big city of Sobral.
We met a man named Cicero this week, when we were walking down the street. He was sitting alone and we walked passed him, but I felt an impression to go back and talk to him. So we returned, chatted for a bit, and gave him a pamphlet. No big deal. But he told us that he really had been feeling alone and had needed someone to talk to that day. He told me that he felt like he was worth less that the floor we
stood on. I was really glad that I got to tell him how special he was that day. What a seed to plant. I am hopeful he will be receptive to more visits.
We have a baptism this upcoming week! Elisângela is mother of three, two of who are members. She wasn´t married, but then this week she got married hooray! her husband is excommunicated but is interested in coming back as well. After 9 years of missionaries, we arrived to baptize her. Talk about a miracle for sister smith.
I have run out of time, but hang in there!
I love you all very very much.

Monday, June 4, 2012

January emails from oldest to newest

Happy New Year! [sent on 02 Jan 2012]

Dear family,

Happy new year! From the sounds of it, 2012 is a welcome sight. I am excited for the changes and opportunities that this year will bring. As I wrote a list of goals in my journal for this year and for the future, I am amazed that the many blessings and opportunities I have already had in my life. One of my goals is to ride in a hot air balloon. And another one is to have a Family Home Evening every week with  my family. So things are going well, and I am so glad to have a chance to start afresh. And Christmas is over!! I love the yuletide season, but my merriment is well spent and I am glad to not have to think about the fun things to do for Christmas at home. Now I just have to get past Martin Luther King day and all of my holiday blues will be over.

This week Otavio was baptized! It was such a neat experience to see him be so excited and touched by his baptism. I have not felt the spirit quite so strongly at a baptism before. He is only 22 years old and is moving past a drug addiction. The steps and desire he has made to change is inspiring.

Ribamar, who was baptized a few weeks ago, was made ordained a priest yesterday. He too, has made some awesome changes in his life.

I have never been one to love change, because change is uncomfortable. It is hard to get going, it is hard to stick with a decision, and sometimes it is just uncomfortable because it is different. But, as a missionary, I am all about helping other people change. It has been rewarding to see both of these men change. Both of them have had family members comment of the difference in their day to day lives, not just during our visits.

This week, we had one of the sisters we live with go home! It is so weird without Sister Johnson, and her companion Sister Vieira has been with us ever since she left. I thought being with one person for 24 hours a day was hard. But a trio? haha, I am glad that this is temporary.

Our ward continues to be a joy here. We are planning an activity for our mission president to come teach about member missionary work at the end of this month and I am nervous because he agreed to come. It is now a legit activity and we have to plan it well:) But I love the members of this ward, I think for all missionaries it is easy to love the ward members. Junco is no different. I keep getting to eat guava flavored desserts and I think about Taylor. I don´t know why I associate tropical fruit with my brother, but I keep thinking about how much he would enjoy it here. And Brooke, the adventurer at heart.

WEll I must be going,

I love you all! Happy January!


Sister Smith

new year and a new sister [sent on 09 Jan 2012]

Dear Family,

This week, a new sister arrived to replace Sister Johnson in our district. Her name is Sister Brown and she is from Philadelphia. Born in England, she still has a cute little accent that peeks through her portuguese! She went to byu before her mission, and she was thankful that I was able to give her the bowl game score:)

I guess the most exciting news I have this week is that I got my Christmas package from Mom and I got a month´s worth of letters! I recieved three Christmas cards from different widows in the ward and even one from the Stake presidency. All said and done, I got 20 letters from other missionaries, and Christmas cards and even a two letters from my mother. It was such a good day! It is a bummer that I don´t get letters often, but nothing makes my day like reading a handwritten news bit from home. (hint... hint) I am entirely too spoiled! But I loved it, thank you for all of those who sent letters!

Our area continues to progress, we are currently at odds with getting more involvement from the ward. Yesterday we went to ward council and my companion may or may not have told all of the leaders of the ward that they do nothing. And I may or may not have wanted to crawl under a chair and hide in embarrassment. And then when she stormed out and slammed the door, declaring she can´t wait to be transferred, I could just wilted. Me oh my, this next week is going to be a doozy. Luckily, this storm will pass, and I know that the ward will work better. They really do work with us, but it is the little things that don´t need to be assigned by the bishop. We need more people to say hello to investigators at church and sit by them in meetings. why is it that the little things are always the hard things?

I am optimistic that this is going to work out. The only bit that I added for our missionary moment was that I need to remember the difference between programs and principles.

All of the leaders in our ward here are leaders of programs. We have programs to help us learn and teach principles. Missionaries are a part of a program. But, the principle for all of us is that the gospel makes us happy, and gives us purpose. There are so many programs to keep up with but it is important to remember why we do things.

Enough of ward council drama. phew!

We are working with several people who need to come to chruch, but it is incredible to see the difference when they do. Hopefully, more can start coming to chruch on Sunday. I continue to be thankful that I am in an area, where the first time we meet with someone, they invite us in to start teaching.

Wish me luck as we turn a new leaf:)

I love this area, and I love this work. When I really think about the principle of being here, it is a joy not a burden.

Love you!


sister smith

A week of awesome. [sent on 16 Jan 2012]

Dear Family,

I hope that everyone is happy healthy and well. I had no Idea that Dad was going to be away from home so long! I wish that I was there to help out, I really really wish I was, but I just have faith that missionary prayers can add an extra boost.

This week, we had interviews with President Dias, that was fun. ahem. I am not scared to speak in Portuguese to anyone anymore, except President. Don´t know why, maybe just because I am afraid of responsibility and my secret wish is to be a junior companion forever:) It was great, he taught me about the Doctrine of Christ. He pointed out that we have the Doctrine (singular) and Covenants. It is all one doctrine. We teach people all of the time as why we have a million churches on the earth today, but it finally clicked that there really should just be one Doctrine. Even the little things like the Word of wisdom or fast offerings just add to our true doctrine of Christ. I really liked this. He challenged me invite people on the street to be baptized. Eeek. This is going to be interesting.

This week my fan exploded. Poor Sister Borges, she was having a dream about being in a plane crash on her way home from her mission when she woke up to sparks and smoke! oh my. No wonder, these poor fans are running eight hours every night. I don´t know how we would live without them.

We met a family this week where the parents were inactive, but baptized members of the Chruch and their daughter who is 12 now wants to be baptized. Her name is Alveriane, it took me three days to remember her name! The mom is pretty cool, and it is neat to see her remember the truths that have already been borne witness to her soul. We never really forget. And when we hear spiritual truths again, it is like coming home. I love the gospel because it just feels good.

Otavio, has not been to chruch since his baptism. His mother told us that he has started going to another church everyday since then. The day after his baptism, he started using again, and I think he was just looking for a quick fix. The gospel fixes everything, but with our effort and with the Lord´s timing. I hope that one day other missionaries will find his name on a less active list, and he won´t avoid them. The hardest part about this is the fact that I felt the spirit SO strong when we were teaching him. I know he is so special! He just forgot how special he is. hmph.

I had my first Brazilain barbeque here, wonderful stuff! I can´t wait to come home and make everyone eat all the good stuff I am learning about here. I have yet to learn how to make the beans, but I will.

I best be off, I love you all! Get well soon dad!



Rainy season! [sent on 23 Jan 2012]

Dear Family,

How is January in Idaho/Utah? I recieved reports of a first snowfall this last week. In the end of Janurary! Lucky! I was worried about Mom driving back and forth between the hospital and home in snowy weather, so I am very glad to hear that the roads have been clear close to home. It is winter here too, meaning lots of rain, and equally toasty days. I did have a day where I actually slept with a sheet because I was slightly cold! Whew! IT must be winter here too!

Yesterday, I had a brief yet terribly strong urge to be home. It was triggered by walking past a stadium full of soccer fans. There were lots of crazy people, the smell of popcorn and all the fun that goes with a sporting event. I got to thinking about byu football, and I missed it! So really, I was briefly homesick for a football game in Provo, and then I realized that I am still going to miss another football season! The things I will do for a mission. anyways, it rained really really hard during the futebol game, I am sure this was the Lord´s way of saying He doesn´t appreciate sporting events on Sundays.

We had two baptisms this week! The first was Sandra´s baptism. We met her in the middle of November, and she accepted a baptismal date right away. She needed to get married, and after some money magically appeared :) they were able to pay for a civil wedding. Sandra and Cicero were married on Friday, and her baptism was on Saturaday. They moved to another ward in Sobral, but we were allowed to leave our area to attend. She was nervous, but so excited. Cicero has been a member for more than 10 years, and he was also excited. They are a great couple, and they are going to do great things in their new ward. Lucky Sobral 3rd Ward.

The second baptism was Alveriane´s baptism. She is such a sweetheart. She reminds me of Korin. She is 12 years old, and her parents wanted to come back to church. We taught her, and the change we have seen has been awesome. At first, she wasn´t all that interested, but then as she continued she wanted to read more, pray more, and meet more people. She loves young womens. And the whole young women´s presidency came to her baptism and gave her all the personal progress stuff to get started. It is amazing what a difference members can make. Their whole family is really excited to come back to church. Her three year old sister, Bea, is struggling to be quiet during sacrament meeting, and I wish I had my mom´s magic church bag!

I really love this area, which means I don´t know how long I will get to stay. But transfers are the week of valentine´s day, so I still have a bit of time here for sure. Maybe more.. who knows?

Well I am glad to hear Dad is on the mend, and that everybody is happy and well. Xane sounds like he is ready to pull his hair out with school, I don´t miss college:)

LJ only has 20 something days until she goes to the MTC! I am so excited for her!

I love you all!

Have a great and SAFE week in the snow!



The Junco Ward [sent on 30 Jan 2012]

Dear Family,
this week was a pretty good week, we were able to have 40 lessons and find 12 new people to teach. By the way, Congratulations to Elder Hoyne for baptizing a family!! that is incredible! We made a goal as a district to teach 150  lessons this week, meaning each companionship needed to teach 37 lessons, we will find out tomorrow if we made it.
On Sunday, President Dias came with his family to our ward. He never comes with his whole family, but there were 7 members of the Dias family there yesterday. His training was great, he gently reminded everyone to talk to our investigators and to talk to their friends and family about the gospel. We struggle sometimes in this ward when we
bring investigators to chruch and nobody will talk to them without being asked to. So family at home - always say hello to a less active or a investigator at church. A new face should feel like a VIP! President Dias was able to meet Ribamar, our awesome recent convert. He was so impressed that he has only been a member since December. In my email this week, President told me that he told the bishop to make Ribamar the Elders Quorom president. This guy really is elect! This week when we visted him he shared with us his study journal. He wrote down a phrase that I will forever remember `If you don´t live your beliefs it is because you don´t believe` This is coming from a man who has been a member of the chruch for less than two months. He is an inspiration to me to keep going as a missionary everyday. I was pretty excited about this.
Our relief society had enrichement night.  I know they don´t call it that anymore, but I always will. We made some flowery craft as a door stop. We had a investigator come who has the most tragic life story. Luziane started dating someone when she was a teenager, they dated for
more than five years. He moved to Rio, and she married someone else, after three years of marriage, it didn´t pan out. Well this boyfriend returned, and they moved in together, 3 months later he left her. Ouch. I hope that crafting heals her soul like it heals mine. But really, I have hopes that the gospel can give her more understanding
and peace. Relief society meetings are the same all over the world.
Yesterday, I hit my seven month mark. It has gone by so quickly. I can´t believe that I am no longer a freshman missionary. I even finished my 12 week training program, the one I started over when I got here. 20 weeks of training, I am pretty excited to be done!
Well this week was great, I am excited for one that will be even better this week! I love you lots and I am glad to hear the breakfast cookoff went well.
I love you all and I love to hear from you!
Sister smith

December emails from oldest to newest

Christmas Baptism [sent on 12 Dec 2011]

Dear Family,

I hope that things are going well at home. I have lost hope that the birthday cards I sent for all those November and October Birthdays will get to you all. But just know, I sent them! Almost six weeks later, Happy Birthday to all the fine women in my life:)

This week, we will have a baptism! I am pretty excited, the very first one, and just in time for Christmas. President Dias has encouraged us to have a baptism on Christmas eve or the actual day as a birthday gift for the Savior. We will see what next week brings, but this week is looking up.

Ribamar is really awesome. He is 45 and lives with his mom, and has never been married. The first time we met him he was a drunk as a skunk but asked us to return some other day. about two weeks later, we returned and he was very excited to see us. He told us that he just knew that we would come back.

He has had some problems with drinking, hence the living with his mother, but he is very eager to learn. Ribamar has seen missionaries before, and said that he wanted to talk to us because he wants the discipline that he has seen so many of these young missionaries have.

When we started talking about the gospel, he mentioned Joseph Smith and not drinking coffee. We asked him how he knew so much and he told us he had some books.

HE brought out a Book of Mormon with the cover ripped off and the title page just ripped to shreds. He also had the sunday school manual teachings of Brigham Young, without a cover. He found them in the street and decided to keep them. He had already read part of the Book of Mormon.

We invited him to chruch. and He was there 30 minutes early! We had 3 investigators at chruch before the Bishop arrived yesterday, awesome! We had 8 investigators in total there yesterday.

There is a family that was baptized about six months ago, and the father sat down with Ribmar during Priesthood and bore his testimony to him right off the bat. It was a wonderful sight to see. Almost half of elders quorum were our investigators. It is such a great experience to see the potential of so many men holding the Priesthood here in this ward. I know that the Lord directs us to find future leaders. Ribamar is going to be great. He will be baptized this next Sunday Evening, after the Christmas devotional broadcast. Hey! We get to watch the Christmas devotional! I am so excited!

We have the DVD Joy to the World which we have been showing to our investigators this month. I love it. The first time we watched it, it was like a knife to the heart to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the lights on Temple Square. So beautiful, I miss it. But it is also beautiful because of the message. He lives, His life is a gift, and we want to praise Him forever.

I have been thinking of what a gift it is that we can reflect on the Birth of the Savior. Think of all the people who lived before His time, and what joy and relief there was that the Messiah had finally come. There was hope for not only the mankind before, but mankind today. Natal (Christmas) is such a time of hope, that we can reflect on the fact that He came. He made a sacrifice for us, and because of this we can live forever. What a gift.

I am pretty excited for this week, and I am excited to talk to my mom soon!


Sister Smith

Merry Christmas! [sent on 19 Dec 2011]

Dear Family,

Yesterday, I got to see the first baptism of my mission. It was wonderful. Ribamar is wonderful, and I am so excited to see him be so happy with the gospel in his life. His story is quite remarkable, and his faith is too. The ward has been very kind and loving, and I have been impressed by the number of people who have come to befriend him.

After church yesterday, the ward had lunch together for Christmas, it was really fun. And great to invite our investigators to church, there will be food.....! We had 10 investigators at chruch, it was awesome.

The stake also aired the broadcast of the first presidency Christmas devotional, and the baptism was held afterward. It was so cool to be able to SHOW people the Prophet. We talk about having a living prophet all of the time, but there is a special spirit when He speaks. One of our investigators, AnaCarla, came for the devotional and baptism. She really liked the devotional and said that she would look up more videos on later. I am thankful that I am a missionary in a time of technology.

Other than our Sunday of awesome, the week was pretty slow. It is hard when six or seven consecutive appointments fall through. I am of a firm belief that missionary work is not under my control, but certainly is in the hands of the Lord. How else could we have found the time to return and talk to Ribamar that day? When the days get tough or everything seems to change because of one tiny event, I just remember that our work is fluid because the Lord needs it to be. I am learning a lot more about being flexible for other people. We met a couple who have been together for 18 years, Marcone and Angela. He was a priest or something religious for seven years and knows his Bible very well. He told us that he had one concern, that he believes that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are different people. I can´t wait to go back. He was very funny and very kind, but we had to leave at a certain time because his favorite tv show was about to come on. Marcone is definetely a character.

Christmas is coming! I can´t believe it is actually coming. People have been decorating since I got here in the end of October. It will be weird to go grocery shopping without Christmas music next week. the four of us, the others sisters, sister borges, and I are going to make Christmas dinner together and have a small gift exchange. This is my only missionary christmas, so I better use it wisely. It does not matter where I am, the meaning for the season is the very same. I know that the Savior´s life is a gift and that everything good we have stems from his crucial sacrifice. I am so thankful to have His gospel in my life and I am so thankful in turn to share it with others.  I read a great Scripture about this, Mosiah 2:41. People that follow His commandments are happier. That is what this is all about, happiness!

I Love you, and miss you. I miss the candy houses, I missed decorating a tree with Grandma, and I am certainly going to miss cooking a Christmas Eve Dinner. I hope this week is merry, bright, and safe for the travelers.



Four Baptisms and a Funeral [sent on 26 Dec 2011]

Dear Family,

Merry Christmas! I hope yesterday was a great day and that talking to Trevor was also a success. I have so much fun emailing him, and wow! He has had a lot of baptisms. What a great missionary. He told me about a day where he and his companion talked to over 80 people in one hour, Elder Beckstead wears me out just thinking about it! Good job Trevor!

Talking to my mom and dad and Taci and Jake was awesome! Skype worked about perfectly and it was fun to see their faces, even if Taci was tearful the whole time. Oh man oh man, I don´t know how she stayed hydrated. It was really fun, and for Mother´s day, I hope I can see some Beckstead faces too:)

Christmas was a fun day, the night before We made dinner at home and watched the Testaments Dvd. We exchanged small gifts with the other sisters and listened to some Portuguese Christmas hymns.... phew I am glad that people know how to sing. This wasn´t one of those people.

After the phone call, we went to a hospital to sing some Christmas carols to the patients. We got there at 5;30, and they only allow visitors until six. but, we were able to sing to a few people and spread a few smiles. Brazilian Hospitals are a little frightening, I better take my vitamins and not get run over. Eeek!

We visited some members in our ward and in our stake, we talked to a Brother in our stake who served a mission in Rio about 30 years ago. He was telling us all about his mission it was so much fun. His mission president is a friend of Grandma and Grandpa, I don´t remember his name, but he is currently the temple president in Porto Alegre.

On to the subject of the email, four baptisms and a funeral. We had two last week, one was our friend Ribamar and the other was a baptism of the elder´s who don´t have running water in to fill the font in their chapel.

Then on Wednesday, a member of our ward had a daughter pass away. She was only 24 and had throat cancer. It was very sad, but we visited the mother on Friday, and she told us, `yes, I am sad, but I need to be positive. I have the plan of salvation, and with this knowledge, I need to be an example for other people who don´t have it´ Isn´t that something? The young woman passed away at 8 am on Wednesday and was buried at 6pm that evening. Funerals here are basically just  viewing and a few words before traveling to the cemetery. Right before her burial, my companion and I walked by another burial that was just tragic and the mourners were borderline hysterical. What a difference the gospel makes. Again, it is that eternal perspective.

On Friday, we had two more baptisms, one in our area and another of the other sisters. Thiago, the young man that the sisters baptized, we actually began teaching, so it was neat that the baptisms were in the same service. Hopefully the water comes back soon in the other building! We baptized an 8 year old named Rodrigo. He has been coming to church with his aunt and uncle, (ages 14 and 11 respectively) and really wanted to be baptized. It isn´t the coolest thing in the world to baptize just a child without his family, but his mother is supportive and even will read the scriptures with him because it is important. One day, she will accept the gospel too.

A week of Christmas with many things to do. It was a great week , and I hope to have another great one. minus the funeral. Happy New Year! Love you lots and lots!


Sister Smith