Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hey Everybody!!!

Well. It´s that time of the week again somehow....
Everything is going SO WELL here!!!!!!!!!
It´s been warm again (well, kinda hot actually..) so I´m not freezing to death anymore, which is GREAT! I like it.
Yes, we are still teaching that woman whose mother just passed away.... Sonia. She is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! She understands everything we tell her and between when we first left her the book of mormon (last thursday) and yesterday, she had already read about 100 pages!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT?!?!?! so great!! She just pulled it out and showed us and was like, "I´ve been reading but I dont understand everything very well..." and then she started asking us questions. It was fantastic! She started asking us all about baptism and we were like "well, that is actually what we wanted to talk to you about today!!" And when we were inviting her to be baptized, she asked us a ton of questions and told us how she wanted to get baptized! We´re working with her a lot and we marked a baptismal date for this sunday!!!!!! She also has been working really hard to stop drinking coffee and smoking. I think she used to smoke a lot and drank coffee everyday.... But now she´s switched over to coffee substitute (dont know what its called in english....) and has been cutting down on the cigarettes everyday. When we first talked to her about the word of wisdom she was like "I know it´s bad and I´ve been wanting to stop". So she is. She really is amazing.
There have been a lot of ups and downs with working with her. But somehow, everything is still working out!!
Last night was a HUGE patience builder for me. We were teaching her and the entire family started to get home for the day. So people were talking and coming in and out and talking with us SO MUCH. They LOVE to talk. Holy cow. We ended up being at their house for almost 4 hours!!!!!!!!! AH. And I was trying so hard to follow the conversation, but her husband talks really fast and intensely and I can hardly ever understand anything that he says. Man. I cant wait till I can understand people. Seriously. But in the end, everything worked out and we were able to talk with Sonia more about baptism and address all her questions and concerns. So it was worth it. Even though in the moment, I thought it could never be. hahaha.
Miracle from the week:
Okay, so this is really just a small thing, but it was absolutely wonderful to us when it happened.... Friday, we came back to our apartment a little discouraged and super hungry. BUT, we had absolutely NOTHING to eat in our apartment... Okay, we had three eggs, two oranges (that we were saving for breakfast) and rice. But that´s it. So we sat at our desks and discussed what in the world we could possibly fix and ended up making some rice for our dinner. We were so bummed. hahah. As we were making the rice and joking about how pathetic the inside of our refrigerator looked, someone rang our doorbell. Sister Pedersen looked down out of the window to see who it was, ANDDDD it was some members with food for us!!!!!!!! BEST DAY!!!!! They had been at a birthday party for the bishop´s son and brought us over some appetizers and cake that were left over. Oh man. We were so excited!! Way too excited for what it was, but it was so perfect in that moment. Little miracles.
ANDDD a funny story.
So. The members who give us lunch always expect us to eat a TON. And if you dont, then they get offended. So. We eat a TON at our lunches. On monday, we were eating at a members house and they started it out with the tell-tale signs that let us know that this is gonna be one of "those"kind of lunches.... "Dont be shy, eat as much as you want!" "all this food is for YOU" "take more sister, take more". Yep. So after I had eaten seconds, I seriously felt like I would die. SO MUCH FOOD. Sister Pedersen was still eating, and when the couple stepped out for a second, she said to me "eat more!". I had already said no when they offered me more, and so I was thinking, "shoot. I´ve offended them..." So I asked her "do I have to???" And she was like "yes. Eat more." noooo. hahaha. Then the couple came back in, and I took a little bit more rice and beans and meat. Then I started to force myself to eat it..... A little bit later, the couple stepped out again and Sister Pedersen was like "..... I was joking....."
hahahaha. AH. Worst joke of my life!!!!!!!! We both started laughing (but had to stop real fast cause the members were coming back...). And the family told us how one time when they had elders over for lunch, the elders ate SOOOOO much and then when the husband was leaving to go somewhere afterwards he saw the elders laying on the grass under some trees at the end of the road napping it all off. hahaha. So they told us "dont worry, eat as much as you want. You get to take a nap after!" ahahaha.
love you all!!
and thanks again for all the emails and everything!!! It means a lot.
Sister Ward

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

HEY EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AH! and it´s been another week!! How did that happen???
This week was super good!!!
Last week we were working super hard and keeping really busy! It was so good. And so many good things came of it!! Miracles!
Thursday of last week we met a woman who has had more trials and tragedies in her life than I could have imagined. Her mom just passed away a week before and she was crying from the moment we first saw her. She talked to us and cried for an hour and a half. (well, I couldnt understand much, but thankfully Sister Pedersen could...). Besides her mom dying, her little brother died tragically when she was little and her father as well. She told us that she hasnt been happy since the day her brother died. It was sooo sad. We had no idea what to do for her or how to help her. But we just listened and Sister Pedersen testified to her that we know she will see her family again. By the time we left she was SO much happier!! And without us even mentioning it, she asked us when our church meeting was and told us she wanted to come! crazy!! That never happens! AND she actually did come!! That also never happens!!
She came and loved church!! She told us that she is never going to stop coming and will stay strong for the rest of her life!. wow. She is amazing. ALSO, when we talked with her the first time, she told us how her mom had wanted to tell her something before she died, but wasnt able to. And it was really worrying her because she didnt know what it was. Sister Pedersen just told her that she could pray and God would help her to know what it was her mom had wanted to tell her. So that night, she did pray. And she had a dream where her mom was alive and told her what it was. She told us that after that, she stopped crying and knew that God had sent us to her.
Wow. She is so amazing!! I´m so grateful that we were guided to find her!! We found her by knocking at the door of a friend of hers who then sent us to her house to help her. It is crazy that we even met her! We get to go teach her again tonight!!!
Funnies from the week:
Well. the portuguese funnies are still continuing.... Sometimes I go entire conversations without understanding anything. It is great fun. But makes life entertaining.
Sunday, a member made us Feijoada. It is black beans cooked with an ENTIRE pig. Because apparently, pigs have flavor in EVERY part of their body.... and when I say entire, I mean entire. EVERY PART. The skin, bones, cartilige. I´ve heard stories of missionaries finding teeth...... So, after hearing so much about this delicious meal, we were a little nervous. LUCKILY, the member brought it to our house so that we could eat it at home, and we didnt have to eat it in front of anyone. hahaha. There were quite a few interesting peices in it..... And we definitely did not eat it all.
Besides the gross parts, it was actually pretty good. It made for an entertaining night. hahah.
Well, I hope all is well at home!!
Love you all!!
And thanks SO MUCH for all the emails and encouragement!!! I really appreciate it!!
Sister Ward

Saturday, May 19, 2012

2 Months in Brazil!!

Hey everybody!!!
So I have officially been in Brazil for two months now!!! Crazy!!!
Everything is going so well here!!
We´re just working hard and keeping busy... Once again, it feels like we just had Pday yesterday....
I´m still trying to get better at the portuguese.... but I guess that´ll come bit by bit.
I keep realizing more things that I need to learn and things I dont know, so sometimes it feels like I´m going backwards, but it´s all good!!
We have zone meetings in Limeira every tuesday and yesterday our meeting was soooo good. I learned a TON. Sister Pederson and I are both trying to implement all that we´ve been learning from our zone and district into our work this week. I´m hoping that as we do we´ll be better able to help people come unto Christ.
Well, some funnies from this week:
On our way to church sunday morning, we were walking down a hill. The sidewalks here are all made up of small rocks formed into this wave design. ( I have no idea how they do it and it seems like a TON of work...). But they are never really level. So we were walking and there was a bit of a bump in the sidewalk and all of a sudden I just completely trip and fall basically on my face. WOW. Super cool. Sister Pederson totally started laughing. I did too though, dont worry. And I skinned my knee like a 7 year old. Classy. BEST OF ALL, there was a guy we know walking on the sidewalk on the other side of the street that saw the WHOLE thing. Yep. Ahhhhh. We saw him again yesterday and he was telling me to be careful on the sidewalks....
As promised, some pictures of the apartment:
Our apartment is HUGE and super SUPER nice for Brazil. So we are pretty lucky....

Our lovely room where we hang our clothes.

Sister Pederson and my super classy birthday cake. Someone just happened to give us cake that day, so when we got home we stuck some matches in it and had a little celebration. Woooo. Sadly, the cake was pretty bad.... so we ended up throwing it out... hahah. but it is the thought that counts!!!

Felipe´s baptism!!! He is in the middle. And his cousin João Carlos baptized him. Super cool. He was sooooo happy!!!!

Our district pday in Limeira last week!! Super fun. We played ping-pong, Uno, made lunch. Such fun. We have a great district.

Our bedroom. It also is HUGE and you cant see our little clothes cupboard/closet thingy on the wall on the left....

Our happy little study spots. In our GIGANTIC living room. This is where we study for four hours every morning. And we do lots of practices where we usually cant keep a straight face...... hmmm. Sister Pederson had me practice on her stuffed animal frog one time cause we couldnt stop laughing. It´s bad, but hey, we are working on it!

Our kitchen! Everyone has gas stoves like this in brazil. They aren´t connected to the wall and people drive around in trucks playing SUPER annoying jingles to sell those tanks of gas. WORST JOB EVER. This is the stove where we make our delicious dinner of popcorn every night. And I am a pro at cooking popcorn in a pot now, a member showed us the trick to it a couple weeks ago. MMMMMMmmmmm it is sooooo good!

Well. I´m about out of time....
Everything is soooo goood here!! I love it!!
I love and miss you all soo much!!!
Thanks for the emails and letters.
Hope you all are doing well.
Sister Ward

Friday, May 11, 2012

Week 8!

Hey family!! And everyone!!!
Time seriously flies. I cant believe it is may!!! WHAT?!?
This week was super good, it honestly feels like last p-day was to days ago though.... hahaha. I guess that is a good thing.
Sister Pederson and I have been keeping busy, working hard. Because of our training and meetings monday and tuesday last week, we lost a lot of our work time. So we had to work hard to make up for it at the end of last week!!
About Felipe.... He did get baptized!!! How it all worked out was so crazy though! Such a miracle.
When I wrote last (last wednesday), all was good, and we were planning his baptism for Saturday. BUT when we went to teach him at his aunt and uncle´s house Wednesday night, we found out that his mom had changed her mind and wouldn´t let him get baptized, wouldn´t sign the form..... Felipe was so sad. It was terrible. We didn´t even know what to say. His aunt and uncle were trying to make him feel better--- saying that four years till he turns 18 would go by so fast, but he was just so depressed about it.
We were all pretty bummed after that.... and we didnt know what to do to help him.
Friday, we decided we would go by his house and try to introduce ourselves to his mom and just see if we could help in anyway. When we got there, his mom was already gone for work. AH! BUT, Felipe came out to talk with us. AND, in his hand he had the form and his mom had signed it!!! He told us that the night before he had prayed that his mom would change her mind and sign the form. Then that morning, he asked her again, and she signed it! Miracle. He was so excited. And we asked him, "so do you still want to be baptized tomorrow?" And he was like "YES". Ah. He couldnt stop smiling about it. And everytime I see him, he is just sooooo so happy!
As for funny stories from this week.....
Me trying to speak/understand portuguese is ALWAYS funny.....
Sunday, we were working with two young women from the ward. We were knocking doors and Sister Pederson and one of the girls were knocking the doors on one side of the street, while the other girl and I were working the other side. I was SOOO nervous to not have Sister Pederson there to save me anytime I wouldn´t understand!! YIKES. BUT, it actually went really well.... up until the last house. We were talking to an older man and his wife through their window, and he started talking about his religion (I´m pretty sure he is/was Catholic...). He started talking about the mother mary, saints and just kept going and going and going and basically NEVER stopped for breath. He had a big mustache too, and I couldn´t understand him AT ALL...... Somewhere in there he started telling a story about a young girl who cut off someone´s head.... I´m not really sure. And I have no idea what the point was behind that story, but yeah...... He literally talked non-stop for about ten minutes with me only catching about 1 word in 20...... Man. hahah. I really wanted to tell him that I couldn´t understand him very well because I´ve only had 8 weeks in Brazil, but he didn´t even stop long enough for me to say that! hahaha. It was ridiculous. And the girl I was with had no idea what to do or say to him... hahaha. Great missionary experience for her I´m sure.
Another funny story....
We were having a family night with a family that was baptized recently. I went to sit down on the couch with Sister Pederson and their 12 yr old daughter Aline. (She´s gone out and helped us teach before). When I sat down, it was kind of crowded with all three of us so she asked me if I wanted her to leave the couch. BUT I had NO idea that that was what she said..... I think I thought she was asking me if I wanted to leave.... SO I asked her "leave Araras??" THEN everyone started busting up laughing, and she was like "you want me to leave Araras??!" Woops. Hahaha. Oh Portuguese.
ALSO, earlier this week, we had a lizard in our kitchen sink!!!! Sister Pederson went in the kitchen to do something and screamed.... so I went in there and there was a little lizard that had been chilling in our kitchen towel..... he fell out when she picked it up and was hiding under the dishes in our sink. So I helped her take out the dishes so we could find the lizard and figure out how to get him out.... We tried to prod him with spoons and get him into a plastic container, but MAN he was FAST!!!! We both screamed and jumped again... hahaha. Finally, he was in the little drain catcher, so I used spoons to pry out the drain catcher and put it inside of a plastic container and then we slammed on the lid. Then we took him outside. hahaha.. It was quite the process, but we succeeded and no one died. So its all good. =] Sister Pederson was a little worried we would find more lizards in our house though......
OH. I think I forgot to tell you all a funny experience from the first week here!!
So, when we were knocking doors with Aline, we started talking with a man who is of a certain religion that they have here in Brazil. Apparently they like to pray in different languages. He was talking to us for a while, just normal at first... but then he would start to get excited about something and get louder and LOUDER..... So, when we were about to leave, Sister Pederson asked if he wanted to say a prayer with us (we always end with a prayer, but usually we say it---but she knew what was coming and wanted me to experience it... hahah). So he did. And he started out fairly quiet, but got louder and louder and faster and faster as he was talking until he was yelling and waving his arms around. I couldnt understand basically anything, and afterwards, Aline told us that he was using words and saying things that are definitly NOT portuguese. hahaha. It was interesting.
My week was super good. I love Araras!! The people here are fantastic and the members are superb! I love them.
I THINK that I´m getting better at portuguese..... slowly. hahah. And I´m trying to practice my normal conversation skills more....  hahaha.
I love being a missionary!! And it is so great to talk with so many people here, they are so open and ready to talk---even if they arent interested in our message. But I love seeing the happiness that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings to so many people--like Felipe.
I also love how people can have such positive outlooks on life, even when things are hard and they might not have much.... So many people choose to be happy anyways and just make the most of it. I love it.
I love you all!!!
Best of luck with everything this week!!!
Sister Ward

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Week 7 - In the Field

This week was SO GOOD!!!!
And so much has happened that I dont even know where to start......
My first full day of "real work" was on thursday last week.We worked super hard and knocked doors for several hours with a girl from the ward that we had lunch with. She´s only 12 or 13 and a recent convert, but she loves to work with us and wants to be a missionary so much!!! She´s so sweet. I feel like teenagers in the states aren´t like that..... I know I wouldn´t have been excited to go spend 4 hours knocking doors with the missionaries at 13 at least.... hahaha. But she is awesome. She helped us a TON. She also made about 3 times as many contacts as me....we laughed about that a lot. But I´m getting better now!! haha.
The people here are so great. We have lunch with members everyday, (lunch here is the biggest meal of the day) and if something comes up, they always give us money for something. If we have an appointment around dinner time, the members always feed us then too. And they feed you SO MUCH. At our lunch on Sunday I honestly thought I was going to explode...... Two platefuls is expected. After my second plate, they got out the desserts. I nearly died.... They gave Sister Pederson and I each an entire plate of rich cakes and chocolate and coconut candy-things. OH MY GOSH. I thought I would never make it.....Sister Pederson is a pro, but she was struggling too... hahah. But dont worry!!! We perservered!!! hahaha. And didn´t eat anything for the rest of the day...... =]
Our area of Araras is HUGE. It is a bigger city and has lots of neighborhoods. We have to take the bus a lot, and we walk A TON. Sister Pederson is teaching me to walk fast. hahaha. ´
Monday this week, we had to go in to Campinas for training meeting for all the trainers. Campinas is an hour and a half bus ride away, so we had to get up at 4:30 to get ready, walk to the bus station, take the bus and then find our way to the chapel in Campinas. Then while Sister Pederson had training, the other new sister-Sister A. Silva (who is brazilian/american and grew up speaking portuguese....) and I did a division with another Sister- Sister Ferreira. We took a bus to a little town called Matou. It was raining ALL DAY. hahaha. So we walked a TON in the rain.... We had lunch with a member family. Irmã Deborah-the mother of the family, kept teasing me for being so quiet.... I couldn´t follow what they were talking about AT ALL!!! hahahah. So then after lunch when Sister Ferreira asked her who she wanted to share the message, she said something like "the one who has talked the least today" and they all looked at me, and I was like "what????"ahhahaha.They had to explain for me.... Oh man. ´
Another fun Portuguese story:
We were talking with a little old man, he is 89, turning 90 in October or something..... And we had knocked (clapped really... that´s what you do here...) at his house and were talking to him through the fence of his driveway/car pull in thing. I asked him (several times because he didnt understand me.....) if we could share a message with him. He finally understood and said yes, so I shared our message. Then afterwards he was laughing a bit and said "well, it´s a good thing I studied Italian or else I wouldn´t have understood you at all!!!" He was completely positive that I had been speaking Italian the entire time. YEP. hahaha. Sister Pederson and I have laughed about that one a lot......... I´m not gonna worry about it too much though, since he also kept calling both of us "Maria" the entire time we talked with him... hahah.
So about Portuguese.....
I can say what I need to say to tell people who we are, invite them to church, and teach and talk about the gospel....I can do that fairly okay. And I can teach super well in our practices in the mornings AND understand almost everything Sister Pederson says in portuguese... BUT, the second a brazilian starts talking about something else, over half the timeI have NO IDEA what they are saying..... hahahahaha. So then Sister Pederson has to save me..... She´s super good about picking up on my blank stare after someone just asked me a question and answering for me. hahahah. Dont worry though. I´m improving. My first day, it was worse.... so I´m taking that as a good sign.
This week we are teaching a 14 year old boy named Felipe to prepare him for his baptism on SATURDAY!!!! WOOOOOO!!! We are so excited!!! He has been coming to church and hearing some of the lessons with his aunt and uncle´s family for a while, but we didn´t think that his mom would let him be baptized. But this week, he told us that she said yes!! And he is so excited about it!!! We taught him yesterday and the entire time he couldn´t stop smiling. He loves hearing about the gospel so much and is so excited for our lessons. After they dropped us off last night he said "until tomorrow, at six!!!". I am constantly amazed by how strong the young people are here..... it´s crazy. Felipe, Aline(the girl that came and knocked doors with us), the other young women in the ward.... They all want to help us and are so excited to learn more about the gospel. I wish I could send some of their excitement back to the states. They are AWESOME.
People here in Brazil are generally super nice. Everyone (women only for us obviously) greets eachother with a hug and kiss on the cheek. And when we knock doors, almost everyone is willing to listen to us or if they truly are busy, have us come back another day. And usually at least one person invites us into their home. Everyday I am impressed.... I´m fairly positive that people in the states are not that welcoming or receptive.... I dont think I would let strangers share a message with me, and I for SURE wouldn´t have let them into my home!!! hahahaha. People here are super nice and giving though. The members especially help us out a ton.
It is starting to get cold here..... And Sister Pederson and I are a little worried..... We almost froze to death yesterday morning, and this morning it was fairly cold again.... Who knew Brazil would get cold??? I should have packed a sweatshirt.... hahaha.
It rained constantly over the weekend and on Monday, and I think that cooled things down a ton.... The rain isn´t my favorite. It´s super hard to knock doors and try to teach people (usually on their doorsteps or at their gates) while it is raining..... But yesterday and today the weather was great!!! So I´m hoping that is a good sign for clear skies ahead.
Well, everything is so good here!!! I´m excited to keep improving at understanding people... haha. And Sister Pederson and I are excited to keep working hard.
Araras is great. I even love the un-even cobblestone-ish sidewalks that trip me everyday. hahaha. AND I really love the lake and the park with the cool fountain that changes colors that we walk home by everynight. Hopefully this week I will start to be able to remember where everything is and not get lost everytime we leave the house.... hahah. Sister Pederson had me try to walk us home the other night and at a cross only a block from our apartment I looked both ways and chose the wrong way and said "I know it cant be that way because I´ve never seen that building before"..... that building was school across from our apartment..... wooops. ahahah. Sister Pederson got some good laughs out of that one....
Love you all so much!!!!
Sister Ward