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