Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hello from the Bug Eater!!

Oi familha e amigos!

This week was great! I have so much to say because it was a longer week than normal. First- I wasn’t transferred! I am so glad too! There is still so much to do here in my area, and so many people to teach! Our investigators and members were even praying that we would stay here! Ha ha ha!
This week in short:
-Last prep day, after email, we went back home and made cookie dough. While we were eating it, sis Pozete paused and looked at it weird. We pretty soon discovered that THERE WERE BUGS IN OUR COOKIE DOUGH!! I ATE BUGS. Grossss! Ha ha, they were in our oatmeal, then in my stomach. Where haven’t these bugs been??
-We had Alice´s baptism this week. She is 72 (?) years old, and the funniest lady. It was a cold and rainy day and even colder in the AC church, and Sister Pozete told her that the water was really cold. She said `no! it will be fine!` When the priesthood holder stepped in, he said `wow! It’s really cold!!!` She got in and said `Fria? Fria nada! Essa agua é boa!!` (cold? cold nothing! This water is good!) Then after, when the bishop was congratulating her, he told her how he remembered his baptism and how he cried. In front of everyone she said `you cried??` Everyone, including the bishop started laughing! It was really funny. She is awesome!
Anyway, I am so excited to be here right now. I am truly loving the work, and time is flying by! I love my companion, and we spend the day working and laughing. She´s great!
A quick experience- This week we checked in on and investigator. She didn’t read or pray and just said `I don’t have time! I don’t even have time for me!` When I heard that I couldn’t believe it. So people, please, don’t act like this. It is so ironic! Please take time talk to your heavenly father. I will repeat: TAKE TIME TO TALK TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.
He is listening and wants to hear from you! So say a little better prayer this week. Converse with the Lord. Tell him how you are doing, what you are feeling, and what you are so grateful for. Then listen- how can he talk to you if you don’t listen? Please remember this and try a little harder. You always have time for the Lord, okay??

Well, sorry I didn’t have much time to write this week. I love you all and am so grateful for your prayers. I can truly feel their influence here! Have a wonderful week!

Seester Bug Eater

District NATAL!

Me and my little lamb, just preachin the word.

Midget bananas!

A little boy Ricardo we are teaching. The first time we taught this family, he was crazy! But now he gets his little chair and sits and listens while we teach.

He wanted to pose like this for the picture. So cute.

Haven't we taught him well?

Alice and her 'batatinhas' or little french fries. Tooo bad you guys can't try these, because they are the BEST!

I just LOVE her!!
p.s. look at Sis. Pozetes feet tan lines- crazy huh?? Maybe one day for me... (haha yeah right..)

Alice's baptism!

Lucia (RC) and I- oh, and the view!

I love these designs- they're sweet!


Crazy elders....

District Macaiba

Natal and the bridge behind me. Look how green it is! B-E-A-UTIFUL!

A cute design a member did on my nails.

Zona Natal

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ants, Roaches...Oh MY!

MY GOODDNESS. I have to start out by sharing an experience maravilhosa this week. So, after a long day, Sis. Pozete and I arrived at home like usual. I am at the sink washing my hands, and she all of a sudden screams so loud and starts freaking out. She screams `Barata!!!` in English `Cockroach!` I, of course, try to remain calm until I make it safely to the bedroom. We have a little part of our house that´s outside, just a little cement room with a sink and stuff, no roof. It was walking around in there, probably flew in, and was HUGE! So, Sis. Pozete saw this thing on its back, and supposed it was dead. She said not to worry, It´s dead, but when we looked again, it was gone! Our poor neighbors! We were screaming, and screaming! Ha-ha! She grabbed the bug killer spray and a broom and marched into battle. O my goodness- this thing was HUGE, and they can fly! It took forever to die, and was so nasty. I couldn´t get over how big and ugly that thing was. My goodness people! Keep me in your prayers. If I have to deal with more of those, I don't know what I´ll do!!!


Then- it gets better- We decide to cook the cookie dough we made. Our oven doesn't work very well, so we don't use it very much. But, we decided to try. A few minutes later after turning it on, we looked over and saw a multitude of ants, running for their lives! There were so many! They were running out of our oven and gathering together to save their eggs. It was so gross. Let me just say that I was the mass murderer that night. I sprayed those things to death, and it looked like the plagues themselves had passed by. I want to scare these ants SOOO bad, that rumors will spread among them. Mother ants will say to their children `Don´t go to that house, whatever you do!!`. I want them to think of my house as the place of ant death. The Ant Graveyard. Haha! (We spent time cleaning the bejeezers out of our already clean house, and sprayed the bug killer everywhere, so hopefully they don't return!)


Well- The rest of this week was good. We have a baptism marked for next week! It´s actually a funny story how we met Alice and her family. She is 70 something years old, and really sweet. Last week we were walking home from church with some youth from the ward. We saw this dog walking really weirdly and it looked like it was dying! We wanted to help, but Alice appeared and said it was fine. So after talking about this limping dog, we told her about the gospel and set a time to teach her. When we returned the third time, she had read some of the Book of Mormon and was beaming! She said she felt so good, and she re-read it. She is so sweet, and loves listening to our messages. Her daughter and granddaughter are interested too, so we´ve been teaching them. Alice and Larissa (the granddaughter) came to church yesterday. We have sacrament meeting last, and I was busy playing intro music, while Sis. Pozete sat and talked with them. She told me that Alice leaned over to her, and said `Sister. Thank you for bringing me to the Lord´s House`. She accepted to be baptized next week! It´s so amazing and makes me so happy! Plus, there is a perk. Every night, her son-in-law makes `batatinhas` or little french fries, and sells them out front. I LOVE them, so I buy some every so often. She told us we can stop by anytime and have some for free! YUM!!

We also have many investigators, but most of them are pretty mole. It´s so difficult to get people to read and pray, which is the most important thing! When they do this, they can feel that this gospel is true for themselves, and how can God tell them that when they don´t talk to him? Fortunately, we have some promising people this week. Something funny- we were teaching this husband and wife. After teaching, while we were saying goodbye, the husband (probably 50 yrs. old) he shook Sis. Pozete´s hand and tried to kiss it. She pulled away really hard and said `no! No pode Senhor!` or `No! You can´t Senhor!` Ha-ha! He was so shocked! We explained that we are sister missionaries and can’t, but he went for it again with my hand! Ha-ha! So funny. One thing that I love here is that people are very touchy. We are always giving women hugs and kissing cheeks, and shaking men´s hands. I love it! It´s taken some getting used to, but I think it is nice. The funny thing is that when people talk to you, men or women, they stand really close and constantly touch your arm. I don't mind it, but sometimes when men do this, I kind of back off! They do it with everyone, but its taking some getting used to!

Another funny thing this week. We were eating lunch at a member´s house, and they had this really yummy, fresh juice. I drank two glasses full, then found out it was passion fruit juice! I had heard stories of passion fruit juice in the CTM- it makes you super sleepy! That afternoon I was falling asleep while walking. It´s pretty funny! But so yummy. The typical food here that we eat pretty much every meal is beans (not like refried beans, more soupy and individual) spaghetti, rice and some type of meat. I don’t mind it, but its sometimes funny to copy them and eat macaroni with beans all together. It could be worse though!

So the nickname I have this week is `porcelain doll`. So many different people commented this week that I look like a doll! They are all so sweet. It´s so funny the reception I get here with my blinding whiteness, but I have to say I´m getting a smidge tanner!

Lastly- I have to say that the members and teenagers here are wonderful. They are constantly helping us and trying to bring others to the gospel. They will accompany us all day and bring us to their friend’s houses. They have so many family home evenings and try to invite the neighborhood. They are kind, giving and love the gospel. It´s great! They also really take advantage of the Liahona (Church magazine) like you wouldn´t believe. They use it for everything and try to follow the words of the prophets. It´s really neat. They are great!

To end, I have to be a little churchy. I love being a missionary! It is so inspiring! It´s so wonderful to teach about the truths of this gospel. It´s really sad when people don´t want to listen. I keep thinking, `you are searching for the truth and it is right here in front of you! All you have to do is ask God!` People reject us, preach to us, try to confound us, and so much more. But it doesn’t matter. We have the truth, it´s so clear. I just can´t imagine what Christ felt when people were trying to preach and correct him with his own gospel. So ironic! But it´s okay, we are here to bring the hearts who are ready. And I´m happy! I love this gospel, and everything that makes me happy in my life is because I have this gospel. So follow it. Cling to it. Refresh your testimony. Live a little better and closer to your Heavenly Father. He is just waiting on you, for you to draw closer to him and receive more blessings! Isn’t it beautiful!. And I get to see and experience a piece of this beauty when I help bring people closer to Him.

Thank you for your prayers and support. I can feel them helping! (Pray for no more cockroaches! Ha-ha
Love you all and hope to hear from you!

-Seester Gordon

Preach to all creatures! (ya... I don't know what face I'm making..)


Me with my new mission president and his wife! They are great!

I love purple! :)

(from left) Riane (pronounced hi-on-ee; a young woman here) Me! Lourena (my baptism goin strong!) and Sis. Pozete!
Isn't she sooo cute?! This was at a ward party for some festival of July. I don't really know.. haha

Kissing my invisible Knight in Shining Armor. (Is that breaking mission rules?) :)

Where is my handsome prince??

First baptism!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Mission President

Hey family!

It´s so wonderful to hear from you all! I cant tell you how awesome it is to receive letters here on the mission field. Thanks to all of you who wrote me! It´s soo great! It takes forever to get to me though.. so sorry if the response takes forever too!
The best part of the week was meeting my new mission president! He is from Arizona, President Hall. I am so excited to have him as a president, and I love his outlook for the mission. He wants us to focus on following the prophet and first presidency´s program for missionary work- or in other words, he wants us to really focus on teaching people and helping them with their problems through the gospel. To teach people, not lessons. I have seen people here get so into the routine of teaching a lesson, making commitments and leaving without even knowing the person. That is so sad! I am glad to have someone who will try to change the feel of how things are done. He also wants us to work with the members a lot, to integrate people into the church, which is just awesome. He said he hopes to work alongside us, to walk the streets with us (literally) and to lead us correctly. He is just the president for me! His wife is really nice, she is learning Portuguese and is just really friendly. He has 5 kids, most of them are older, but we met two of them: Brad (23, served as a missionary in Brazil) and Quincy (20, really nice!) I had such a fun time getting to know them and am just so excited for the future of my mission under their leadership.
Nothing much happened this week. We have a decent number of investigators, but none that are really committed. Here they call them `moles´, pronounced mole-eees. It just sounds like a perfect word- it means soft, slacker, in a way- lazy. It´s true. That is the hardest part about this area of Brazil. People are very religious, friendly, open to hearing our message, but wont do the work. I hope to find more people like my baptism, Lourena. Hopefully as we work hard, we will find people like this.
Since I don't have much to update, I will tell you about my life here in Natal. The lifestyle of the people, if you will. There are soooo many things that are different- practically everything is different. Here are a few cultural differences- not bad, just different!
• People´s level of modesty. Well, at times it really doesn´t exist much! I have seen soo much skin in this past month. Men are always walking around with their shirts off, gut totally hanging out and over their pants. Women wear little tank tops, usually skimpy or old, often with not much support underneath. O ya, they all have guts too. The shortest shorts I´ve ever seen... armpit hair, hairy legs, every type of cellulite, you name it, I´ve seen it! Naked babies are common, or children (boys and girls) just wear some little pants or underwear and run around town. Its such a beautiful sight!
• Houses: the houses here are very, very small. They are mainly two little bedrooms, a little kitchen and family room. They are made by cement and have metal gate doorways. The houses are also right next door to eachother, with no space in between. When we go to someone´s house, we clap outside the door, or sometimes yell their name. They then walk to the front, unlock the lock, open the gate doorway (if that makes sense) and let us in. They are just soo tiny.
• Bugs: I am learning that ants are NORMAL here. I dont agree with it! Haha! It is something that I refuse to get used to. Lets see- this week I have killed them with bug spray, drowned them, burned them, smashed them, yelled at them, strangled them, smushed them, and whatever other way you can kill a tiny, tiny ant, I have done it. But we are very fortunate to not have too many bugs in our house.
• Creatures: There are always creatures running around this town. So many mutty dogs, cats, little cute lizards, bugs, and other stuff. The other day there was just a herd of cows walking down the street- i updated my pictures. It was so great! There are also donkeys, and people with little carts and horses. That always makes me laugh to see a horse and cart running down the street at full speed- it dont know why it is funny, but it is. I´ll have to try to take a picture.
That is just a few little things Ive noticed. I´m enjoying it here though! The language is coming along quickly enough, the lord is helping me soo much! I was soo happy this week as I understood a majority of what people were saying, and could speak back. I helped teach lessons, gave messages at member´s houses, and made more contacts. It´s so wonderful.
Well I miss you all and hope you are all doing well. I am so excited to be here as a missionary, and I thank you for your prayers and support. Keep praying, keep reading your scriptures, and keep smiling! Love you!

- Sis mish Steph

That's right, stay far away elders!

Sis. Pozete and our investigator.

IMG_0290[1] I wish.....

My mission president's wife and daughter.

My new companion.

Continuing to teach all the creatures of the earth!

Cool buildings, huh?

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Baptism

What a week. I have to say that Chase Gardner was right when he once told me `on the mission, the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days`. It is soooooooo true! I had some VERY slow days this week, but when I look back, the week went by fast!

A lot of great things happened this week. I first want to say that I HAD A BAPTISM!! (I can’t baptize the new convert, the Elders do the baptizing because they have the priesthood.) My first! Lourena- she is such a wonderful girl and truly has a testimony of the gospel. A few days before her baptism, she attended some church activities. She told us she wants to learn as much as she can about the scriptures, and how she loves how she feels at the church. She said she doesn’t understand how people can leave the church after what they feel there. I know she truly felt the spirit strongly confirm the truth of this church. Her baptism was absolutely wonderful! The spirit was so strong, and you could tell that this meant so much to her. The ward was very welcoming, helpful and outreaching to her. I am sure she will stay strong in the church. I am so grateful for this experience because I was able to see what it’s like to baptize someone who is truly converted. I am convinced that the numbers here on the mission aren’t what´s important. Anyone can baptize people, especially here- all you have to do is offer cake and someone will be baptized! But I am here to find those who will have a strong testimony, to truly convert people to the gospel through the Holy Ghost. It´s so important!! Of course, everyone is welcome to feel this. All you have to do is pray and ask to know if this church is true- and you know what is so great?? God will ALWAYS answer. It´s so amazing :)

I would LOVE to attach pictures from the baptism, but I think I just accidentally deleted them. Which really stinks... but nothing I can do about it! Next week I will use my companion’s camera and send you pictures. (I´m pretty sure I just took off my shoe and smashed a huge ant that was on the wall next to me. Oh the joys of northeast brazil!)

FOURTH OF JULY!!! - was fun. I think my companion thinks I´m crazy! I happened to have some patriotic symphony music, and the star spangled banner on my iPod, so I marched around our apartment quite a few times this week in celebration of my country. It was pretty fun! As I tried to think of American food to cook for her, I found it difficult. Either we don’t have the right ingredients, no recipe, or I couldn’t cook it because our oven doesn’t work! Someday in the future. I also found it somewhat difficult to explain the fancy words in our pledge of allegiance, as I taught it to my companion. We had some fun though! Hooray for USA! The incredible thing is the influence that the USA has on the world. People here know American movies, music, celebrities, politics and so forth. For being a pretty new country, we sure are influential!

This week was also full of some let downs. We had a contentious moment with a friend of an investigator, trying to disprove everything about our religion. They are teenagers, and pretty sure they only want to listen so they can twist our words and bash us down. I feel sorry for them. We just taught our lesson, bore our testimony and left. I hate moments like that. They are few here though, thank heavens.

We received our new mission president this week- I haven’t met him yet, but I hope to soon!
I want to share a thought with ya´ll. Please-PLEASE members of the church, realize how IMPORTANT missionary work is, not just for missionaries, but for you! The members here are so wonderful with helping us find people to teach. The important thing to realize is that it is not the missionary´s job to find people to teach, they are there to teach. So work hard! Share the gospel! Pray for opportunities. If you believe in the prophets, and have a testimony of following what they say, realize that EVERY prophet tells us that missionary work is one of the most important things. So this week- try a little harder. Okay? Do your part, have the spirit with you, and the Lord will do the rest. I love this gospel. I LOVE that it makes sense! It is true. It is pure. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, fully here on the earth, just as he taught it. It´s wonderful!

Well, I don’t have too much to say other than that! So much happens, but never enough time to write. Pray for us, I hope to find new people to teach this week. I miss you all, and love you very much! I think about you and pray for you often. Let me know how you are doing, please! Keep letters coming, and have a wonderful week.
Sisssss Mish Steph Gordon