Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Busy Week...........

This week, as usual, was good. There are always up times, and down times, and usually they both happen in the same day, but overall it feels good to be here. I had my zone conference last week, where all the elders and sisters from a certain area gather to be trained and hear speakers. My mission president was leaving, so he said his goodbyes and gave his last words of advice. The funny thing is that I couldn’t understand almost ANY of it, because he speaks so fast and mumbles in Portuguese! But, I am sure it was great! It was a long day, and by the end, I didn’t want to have to hear any more Portuguese for the rest of the night! I´m sure they will be better as I begin to understand the language. At least I understood the other speaker for the whole morning, that made me feel better. I met a missionary from Sammamish, Elder Millet. He is from the Issaquah stake, has about 4 months left, and knows so many people I know. He lives so close! It was kinda crazy! I’m sure some people know him, he was really nice. Other than that, it was just a good, uplifting (except for the Portuguese) day.

This week a had a fun opportunity to teach in English! My companion pretty much does most of the teaching, because people can’t understand me- but we met a less active family who has a teenage daughter who knows English. The father was really high up in the church, but fell away when his family didn’t go. So my job was to help the daughter gain a testimony of the gospel. It was so wonderful to finally teach in my language and help someone. Most definitely a blessing from the lord, in perfect timing. The father was at church (the daughter was sick) and I hope they come back to the church!

I was able to have my first bowl of Açai this week, and let me tell you.... It was GREAT!! I wish they had it in the US for ya´ll to try, because it was so good! I uploaded pictures on flickr, I hope you can all see them. I will try to have pictures every week. I feel a bit silly because I look so greasy and gross in every picture, but after walking and sweating all day, It is pretty hard to avoid. I ACTUALLY wore my bangs back in a headband for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE this week. It was raining and I didn’t want to deal with my bangs, so I wore them back. It felt weird.... That is my big first sign of giving up looking good here! So don’t make fun!
We taught a wonderful 25 yr old girl this week, named Lorena;. She truly is prepared by the lord. She said she felt power when we taught her. We arrived one night, and she was so upset with family problems. I (through my companion translating, because late at night my Portuguese fails) was able to use stories from the BOM to help her feel better. Her cousin and aunt are learning too, and hopefully we can baptize all three of them. They are so wonderful! Lorena came to church and yesterday accepted our invitation to be baptized this Sunday!!!! She is really excited, and I can already see the change that the gospel has made in her life. It´s such a beautiful thing to help people through the gospel. And help them and feel the Lord’s spirit so strong. I hope to have baptism pictures next week for you!!

Solange and Francisca (the dream people) are continuing with the lessons. They LOVE us coming over and keep saying that we are family. They cook for us, and say that they will be our moms here! Solange´s leg problem still hasn’t been discovered, but they ran into an old family friend who’s a doctor and will do anything to help them, so we hope it’ll be okay. The lord is truly blessing their lives. We are just trying to have them commit to baptism. I think Francisca (the older lady) is having a difficult time getting the courage to take this step. The funny thing , is that whenever my companion talks to her, she listens halfway. But as soon as I open my mouth and speak, her attention is completely on me. My companion feels that I am the only one who can invite her and help her to be baptized. I hope we can help! Marcilio is Francisca´s son (solange’s brother) and he is all for our church. He has been quitting smoking, taking our discussions, and trying to encourage his mother and sister to be baptized. He would be baptized in a heartbeat, but he needs to get married, and he lives in another town that doesn’t have a chapel or missionaries. It´s sad, because he would be a really strong addition to the church. I just love visiting them though! They take good care of us. :)

It is so interesting being here in Brazil sometimes. People stare at me because I am sooo white! So many people love touching my hair and skin, and comment on how white I am! HAHA They ALWAYS then ask if I am wearing sunscreen, which of course I do. The funny thing is that they talk to my companion and ask her questions about me, because apparently I am mute and don’t understand anything! ha-ha. I think it’s funny. Everyone in the ward wants me to sing for them, or braid their hair, so I just tell them to give me references and I will grant their wishes. I hope I don’t have to sing in church... On Sunday, the bishop last minute asked me to give a talk in Portuguese, for 5 minutes. I was freaking out and quickly wrote a talk to give. It wasn’t too scary, and I hope everyone understood me. At the end, I bore my testimony in English, and everyone loved it! I am sure I just made a fool of myself up there, but everyone is too nice to say it.

The Cupo do Mundo is still going on. I cannot describe how crazy it is here to you! During the games, when Brazil gets a goal, EVERYONE cheers, and there are fireworks going off louder than the fourth of July! It is so crazy. We have to be in our houses during this time, but you can always know the score even if you aren’t watching the game. United States lost out, which isn’t a huge surprise, but right now I have to root for Brazil or I will be killed! :)
Today I was able to go to a nice restaurant overlooking the beach with a family from my ward. The husband is a chef, and he took us on a tour of the restaurant, and gave us a wonderful free meal. It was the BEST food I have eaten since I’ve been here! It sure beats cereal and who knows what that I eat at home. We got to see the beach, which was absolutely beautiful. I took pictures. Bummer though, so close, yet so far!

I have to say that I am soooo tired of ants. Be grateful EVERYONE that ants aren’t a huge problem in your life. We have tiny ones here, that are EVERYWHERE! Seriously- They have been in my bed, laundry, shower, floor, food, and everywhere in between. Goodness- those little `formigas` as they are called in Portuguese. But oh well, it could be worse! We have another little lizard friend in our drain, who just hangs out in there. I think it is funny. He doesn’t come out or bother us, so its fine. I need to baptize all the little creatures in my house, and I will be a successful missionary!

The Portuguese is coming, more and more each day. I have to keep reminding myself that it takes time. I have only been on the field for 2 weeks, so I think I’m doing okay. Other missionaries say that it took them 3 months to understand everything and speak, so I just need to be patient! It is so hard to be though, when you want to help people and cant because of a language barrier. O well- That’s why my first goal is to have the spirit. That is all I care about and He will do the work.

One other cultural thing about brazil- there is always noise. Always. People listen to music so loud and it just reverberates in the streets and in our house. Vendors walk down the street blaring Brazilian music, or cars drive by with speakers on the top playing advertisements. Our neighbors love to listen to this awful Brazilian band, and its pretty interesting. I need to get used to it, but its so difficult sometimes! So different from the US. But, one great thing. The other day a vendor walked by slowly playing Lady Gaga really loud, and I had a few minutes of some actual good music. It was wonderful!!
Well- I love you all and am working so hard. Please keep me in your prayers. Write me and be safe! I miss you all, and love your support. Hopefully I will be able to tell you about a baptism next week! Tchau!

-Seester Steph

Coolest phone booth or what?!

IMG_0288[1] OOOO the beach is soo close! but thats okay, i'm a missionary of the Lord! haha

Isn't it beautiful?!

The gospel needs to be preached to all!

The BEST dessert since I've been here... MMM

Lunch at the Nice restaurant with the family from my ward, whose dad is a chef there. An AMAZING or ULTIMO (portugese) lunch.

A man in one of our wards gave us a tour of one of the nice restaurants he works at- it was really neat! The restaurant was soo nice and we looved wearing the GORGEOUS hair nets you see here. Arent they just beautiful?? Haha

My first bowl of Açai! Mmmm- Soo good. I think everyone in this world needs to try it.

In a bus FULL to the brim of Elders! The only girls in a bus with about 30 elders, soo fun!

At the mission conference with another sister. I hope someday I can be as tan as them!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

First Week in Natal, Brasil

Hello Everyone!
Wow, I have so much to say this week! So many awesome stories to tell! So- let us begin!
First, I love being a missionary! It´s difficult at times, but really rewarding and fun. I have a wonderful companion, Sister Pozete. She is Brazilian from Sao Paulo, speaks better English than I speak Portuguese (don’t worry, we speak in Portuguese because she is too shy to speak in English) and a great teacher. I am so grateful to have her as a companion; we work hard and have fun!

This week was full of a lot of puzzled expressions and hours of time where I didn’t understand what anyone was saying! I don’t get too frustrated; just keep trying to listen more and more. In the period of a few days, I have learned so much, and can understand them better every day! I am loving Portuguese and it feels so neat to be able to speak in another language.

I have an amazing story. One day this week, we were given a reference for a family, in which one of the ladies has problems with her legs and the doctors can’t figure out what it is. We visited the family, which consisted of a grandmother (Francisca) and a daughter (Solange-40´s I think??) We began teaching them about the gospel, Joseph Smith, the restored church with authority from god, and about the Book of Mormon. They said they would pray to know it was true, and that they would come to church. The grandmother then began talking passionately, which I couldn’t understand a thing, for a long time, and began crying. She told us that she had been praying the night before to find help for her daughter. That night she had a dream that she was walking along a cliff when she saw her son, who is a member. He said ``Mom, jump off the cliff with me, I will help you!` She was scared and said she didn’t have enough faith, so he jumped off and was just fine. She continued walking, and she saw a brown girl with a book, who said `jump off the cliff!` Francisca said that she didn’t have enough faith, she couldn’t do it, so the brown girl (or my companion) showed her 4 stairs to go down and helped her down safely. She said when she got to the bottom, she saw a little girl, or angel, who said Ì am here to help cure your daughter`. When she woke up she told her family how beautiful the little girl was, with beautiful eyes and really fair skin. She told us that when we arrived at her house, and she saw me, she began to cry because she immediately recognized me as the little girl from the dream. I could feel the spirit so strong when she told us this story, and she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said `you are my angel that will help cure my daughter`. The lord truly works in our lives, and we can see miracles every day.

They have a baptismal date for this coming Sunday- pray for them! I know for sure through faith, their family can be healed, it is so beautiful. I had been praying so hard that I can still help people even though I can’t communicate with them, and this was an answer to my prayers. They are so sweet, and I get more than enough hugs!

We have met and taught many other wonderful people this week- I wish I could tell you about them all. There were two girls, 16 and 12, who were so interested in this church. They were very very sweet, and helped me with my Portuguese! As we were about to leave, the 16 yr old, Rute (or Ruth) gave me some simple bracelets with the brazil colors on it, right off her wrist and said `Now you are Brazilian!` I felt so silly because I started to cry a little, they were so nice and it was so great to feel such love from them! I cannot express to you how relaxed, generous and loving the people of Brazil are. They always have time to talk about the gospel, and you can almost always enter into their house at any time of day! It is so different from America- So different. We hardly never need to make appointments to teach, we just go teach. It’s amazing how open they are to religion, and gods influence in their lives. Extremely patient with my Portuguese too!

Now, some funny things and culture things. Just before I came here, my companion found a little lizard on her bag when she put it on and it ran around our apartment while we just screamed! It was so funny! I also found a whole colony of tiny ants in my bed today, which was really fun. I´ve been needing some extra snuggles at night, and they were so sweet to bring the whole colony to snuggle with me! Fun stuff! If you even drop a crumb in my apartment, there are tiny little ants that just swarm! It´s not too bad though, I would rather have them than cockroaches, which isn’t a problem in my apartment, thank heavens. I don’t think I will get used to the cold showers though. I haven’t even felt warm water since I’ve been here, and we shower twice a day! Ha ha, I always just laugh and it takes me a few minutes to get the courage to jump in. But all is well!

The ward here is great- O I am in Natal, more specifically in Quintas. All of the young women think I am Bella from Twilight because I live close to forks, am whiter than anything they have ever seen and have dark hair. They love it and always freak out when we tell them where I live. They found out that I am a hairstylist, so we made a deal- French braids for References (references are names given to us from other people who we can go teach) I hope we will begin to receive a lot of references, because the girls here think that French braids are so cool! The Cupo do Mundo (World Cup) is so crazy here! The whole country celebrates! There was a game on Sunday during church, and when a goal was scored, you could hear the WHOLE town screaming, fireworks going off, horns, noisemakers, It was CRAZY!!!! I LOVE IT!! You seriously can’t imagine how crazy they are for soccer, and EVERYONE loves it! It’s so
awesome. They won the game, and everyone was out last night, dancing, partying and wearing yellow and green. So cool. Unfortunately our mission president doesn’t allow us to watch it... bummer.
I accompanied in church on Sunday-they haven’t had a pianist in a LOOOONG time, and were really excited to have me play. It was fun. I just love it here! Everything is different, but I am adjusting and loving it. I will try to take more pictures, but I put some up on flicker and hopefully it works. Let me know if it does.

OO- Ha-ha, my first day here it rained so much! In the morning it rained and I used my coat (which was great) I for some stupid reason left it at home in the afternoon, and we got soaked! Mom- My bag was AWESOME! Nothing got wet and it was so great!! We were wet all day, but whatever. I always feel wet here because it is so hot and humid. I hope I don’t die this `summer` or winter for you guys!

The food has been good here so far. There hasn’t been anything that I don’t like! I think, as long as they have rice and beans, I will be fine. I have told everyone that I am allergic to fish! Ha ha! I am positive that I couldn’t keep from gagging if they served it to me, so I just say I am allergic. I’m sure its saved me a number of times already because they are always surprised when we say that, I think they eat it a lot here. But other than that, we are so poor and have hardly any food. It’s funny, and we have to be creative!
Well everyone- till next week! I love you all and hope all is well. Just to let everyone know, I would LOVE letters! They are sent to the mission home, so I only get them every couple of weeks. So don’t expect a quick response :) Thank you for your prayers and love! Pray for my investigators- we hope to have at least 2 baptisms this week!
Love you all! Tchau!
Seeester `Bella` Gordon

My companion (grey shirt) and two other sisters.

A street decorated for the Cupo Do Mundo in Brazil. The whole country freaks out here and almost half of the streets look like this. Sooo sweet!

a little friend i found in my house! hahah

my apartment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Flying to my mission, Joao Pessoa

Oi Family and Friends!

This week I am actually using a computer that has a shift key- wonderful! Right now I am at my mission president’s home, getting the run down before I go out on the field tomorrow. Last night I was told about my area, my zone and companion, and saw pictures of my future life for the next 6 weeks or more. It looks cool! I will be serving in the area of Natal.

Of course I don’t remember much, everything was a blur yesterday! Let me tell you a little story-

We woke up at 5am and had to be downstairs at 530 am, and when we finally arrived at the airport, we waited in a long line to check in. We finally got to the flight, and then it was delayed for 3 hours, which was fun! Actually, it wasn’t that bad because I just practiced speaking Portuguese with all of the Brazilian elders and sisters. We finally took the 3 hour flight, we arrived in Recife to find out that we, missed the one flight to Joao Pessoa that day, and would be driving there. Sooo, we did. It was a beautiful opportunity to see the green countryside, kind of jungle like and very scenic. About 40 min in, the other car called and needed help with some mechanical problems... so we back tracked for 20 min, helped forever, then finally set on our way again!

Then we arrived at the airport, contacting our mission president, and finally arriving at their house at 8pm, when our scheduled arrival time was 2pm in the afternoon. Haha! It wasn’t that bad, I think it’s just my luck with traveling. But I’m so sorry family, I was looking forward to calling you but it just didn’t work out with the crazy travel timing!

So many things have happened, and so many stories to tell, but never enough time! I received my first proposal this week, through a postcard from a Brazilian elder I had never talked to! Crazy huh? Ha-ha I think it’s funny. I just ignored it and continued with my life in the CTM, but the story is pretty funny!

Everyone here says that everyone will think I’m Brazilian because of my dark hair and I’m very sure I don’t believe them till I see it. I feel like the whitest person in Brazil! This week will be so full of confusion, deer in headlights looks, learning, trial and error, and fun. I am trying so hard to learn this language, and cannot wait to understand everything and everyone! It will just take time and lots of practice and help from on high.

Thank you to all the friends who wrote me! I REALLY appreciate your letters! I want to personally respond to each of you, and thank you for your support and advice, it means so much, so I will see if I can find time to. Thank you for reading my updates and praying for me. I have to say that I feel so spazzy when I write, just attribute that to the time limit we receive when we email. I don’t mean to sound so scatter brained!

Well, the time has come to say goodbye till next week. I am really excited to be here, and to do the Lords work. They say that people here are so accepting of Christ and this gospel; I think the statistic is that Joao Pessoa is the second highest baptizing mission in the world, which is so wonderful. I truly know this gospel is true with all my heart. The Book of Mormon is the greatest part. I tell people “Do you believe in Christ?” and they say, “Of course!” I then ask- If you were to have more scripture from Christ right now, would you want it, and they say Of Course! I then give them a Book of Mormon and explain it all. It truly compliments the bible in EVERY aspect, and teaches all of the beautiful principles of Christ. If you haven’t read it, Read it! It is a marvelous book and will change your life, I PROMISE. So give it a try!
I miss you all and thank you for your prayers. I am excited to love the people of Joao Pessoa, and bring the light of truth and happiness to their lives! Tchau family!
Love, Seester Gordon

Photos: My CTM president, his wife and me

My District in the CTM

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Week 8....Last week at the CTM

Hello family and friends!! Well- the time has come, I´m almost done! This time text week I will be on a flight to Joao Pessoa- Soooo crazy! I have mixed emotions about leaving for the mission field. I am so excited to actually and FINALLY feel like I´m starting my mission, but at the same time, I will miss the CTM. I have great companions; teachers and people are so nice here. Things are getting tiring too though- like the food, and the schedule. I am so tired of sitting in a class for 8 hours a day. But, no more of that soon!

So a few fun things happened this week. The most important thing was our second time proselyting. We went downtown São Paulo next to a huge catholic church and began to meet people and hand out Books Of Mormon. It took my companions and I a while to get the courage to talk to people, I have no idea why! Ha-ha But there is so much to say and not enough time to write. We talked to about 10 different people, and probably understood about 20% of what they all were saying total. They all speak so fast!! And I hear that they speak faster in João Pessoa too, so I hope I survive. I will have to tell you more about my proselyting experience later... I don’t know when, but later :)
I also performed a lot here on Sunday. I sang “How Great Thou Art” with one other girl, Acappella, for our prelude, it sounded good! I also played piano for an elder in my district, who sang “Ì Never Stand Alone” from the musical Cumorah´s Hill. It was beautiful- he is a great singer, and we had a small backup choir of about 5 great singers. It just brought chills to all that heard it! I recommended that song to him, and I´m so glad, because everyone loved it!! I have definitely used my music skills here, not the best by any means, but it has come in handy.

Please send all mail to my João Pessoa (celestial mission- as my instructor is telling my over my shoulder) ha-ha, okay?? Well, sorry that is all for this week. I really don’t have much time to write, but keep writing me! I love hearing news from you all! OOO-BTW, President Richardson and his wife, Maria Anne talked this week. I talked to him for awhile, and his children and I spoke in Portuguese to each other, it was pretty cool. They seem to be doing really well!!
Well I loves you all and LOVE to hear news! Sorry it isn’t much, but I think about you guys often and pray for you all often. I love being a missionary!! Hope you´re doing well :)
Love, Sis Mish Steph

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Week 7....

Oi Familha!! I cannot believe that I only have 2 weeks left here, (I know I always say it) Time goes by so fast! It´s crazy to think that if I feel time is going fast here, while I mostly sit and study all day, then it will probably go by fast out the mission field when I´m actually working. Awesome!

Not too much happened this week here at the CTM, well, there is a lot of stuff that happens every day, but not things cool enough to mention. The big moment of this last week was a little something called `TRC`. (I honestly don’t know what it stands for…ha ha) Basically, they have real Brazilians (wow! Real people!) come in and act like people interested in the church. We know the situation beforehand and are able to practice a little, but we have to teach for 10 minutes in Portuguese. I, fortunately, was called in earlier because a group further along needed another sister to balance out companionships, so I got to do it twice. The basic idea is: you knock on door and are invited in to teach. We talk, figure out their doubts, problems, needs, then teach accordingly. The most difficult part is understanding their fast Portuguese response when you ask questions, but it went okay. After 10 minutes, they stop you and (o- by the way, you´re recorded during this) show you the video. After watching it and feeling so stupid, you then return and start all over again, but improved. It was nice to actually feel like we were teaching someone, but a little intimidating. When you teach someone, and your companionship is new as well, it’s difficult to help each other out with Portuguese when you´re all on the same level. It will be so much easier when I´m with an experienced companion who actually speaks the language! :)

There has been a little sister missionary drama here, but nothing too much to talk about. I guess at times I am just surprised at some girls who choose to come on missions. I thought the girls would be all driven, spiritually strong people, but it turns out that there is a huge mix of personalities and strengths. All the girls are nice, but sometimes having to tell people politely to follow the rules they promised leaders they would follow, is a little difficult. O well!

I am getting excited to go out to the mission field! It is coming up soo quickly! I can´t wait to choose my own food to eat, see some sky, and walk a little, or a lot. I will miss the CTM a lot because I have quite enjoyed my time here so far. But I have the next two weeks to stock up all the information I can, and be prepared to hit the dusty trails!!

I want to end by telling everyone that I hope they are doing well and I think of you. It is such a weird feeling to be so cut off from the world. I don´t really miss too much, but I do miss instant or fast communication! I am sorry if I miss out on anything important in your life, I really do care about everyone! Just please keep me updated, it’s such a wonderful thing to hear how people are doing. I pray for you all and wish you the best! Being a missionary is wonderful stuff and I’m so excited to be here.

Love you all, and have a wonderful week! OO- because I will be leaving so soon, please write letters addressed to my mission. (Address is on the side of my blog)
Love you!