Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Past 2 Weeks

Hey everyone!!!
I´m so sorry about the lack of an email last week.... I ended up only getting about 15 minutes to email... it was just a mess.
So I will try to fill in about the last couple weeks today!
Two thursdays ago, we had a family night with some members that AMAZINGLY (because this is VERY rare in brazil...) have a violin!!!!! Their daughter, Mariana, (who leaves to teach with us almost every week) used to play but stopped, and the violin has just been sitting in their house. Somehow, we found out they had it and I got to tune it all up and play for them. It was so great!!! And they loved it. It is fun because I cant express myself very well in Portuguese yet, but with a violin it is a whole lot easier. hahaha. Afterwards they let us take it home with us and so now we get to play it a little everynight when we have time. =]
I also got to play some prelude music in sacrament meeting. That was super intimidating. Because everyone was talking and gettting situated in the chapel and I was standing up in front of the pulpit to play. Then when I started playing, everyone just got silent and was staring at me! hahah. But everyone loved it, especially since it is almost impossible to find someone who plays violin here in Brazil. Super cool.
The past week, we did a very LONG division. The traveling sister (who is in charge of all the sisters in the mission) wanted to do a division with Sister Pedersen to train and stuff, and wanted to try to do it a week long. So monday, we met in Campinas and traded companions. Sister Flores and Sister Pedersen went to Hortonlandia for the week and Sister A. Silva and I came back to Araras. I was SO NERVOUS and stressed about being in charge of Araras for the week, especially since Sister A. Silva and I have the same amount of time here on the mission.... As in NOT VERY MUCH. hahah. Thankfully, she is brazilian/american and doesnt have any trouble speaking or understanding people.... haha.
The week ended up being a really awesome experience! We had so many miracles.
Monday, we passed a girl that we have only ever taught through the window of her house. When Sister A. Silva and I passed however, we somehow got invited in and were able to teach their whole family!! There was about 11 people there, coming in and out and listening to our message. Sister A. Silva is a very powerful missionary and was able to talk with and get the interest of everyone there. Super cool.
Wednesday, we had our goodbye lunch with President and Sister Tanner. All the sisters in the mission went to the mission home for the day.... which is why I wasnt able to email last week! There are about 26 sisters in the mission right now, and it was cool to get to meet and talk with all of them. Sister Pedersen and I were pretty excited just to see and talk to each other after the couple days apart though... hahah. Sister and President Tanner leave this week, and we will have a new mission president. Everyone is pretty sad to say goodbye.
Thursday, our district leader Elder McGill and his companion Elder Raleigh, came to Araras to help with finalizing a baptism for a girl named Luiza. She is nine and her family has been less active for the last couple years, so she never was baptized. They all are members though and are just coming back to church. She and her whole family really really wanted Luiza to get baptized except for Luiza´s mom.... She was a little worried about the idea and wanted to wait till Luiza was older. But, after working with the family all day, many prayers, and talking with her mom at the pizzaria where she works, she gave her consent for Luiza to get baptized this past sunday!! WOOO!!
That day was pretty crazy, with the elders in one area and Sister A. Silva and I working in another.... There was a lot of rain and running in the rain and another incident with almost missing the bus. To make a long story short, Sister A. Silva and I got completely soaked all over from running down a huge hill in the pouring rain at about 8:55 at night..... hahah. When we got home, I could wring water out of my skirt, out of my book bag..... sweet. After kneeling and praying when we got in our house, we both just layed on the floor for a while and left puddles where we were laying. hahaha. Blessings of the mission.
Friday, we all met in Campinas again and switched back. Woo! But it was a great week, and Sister Pedersen and I both learned a ton in our respective areas that we are starting to apply in our work here now. So good.
As for other highlights of the week.....
We have a TON of investigators who are really progressing and are preparing for baptism!!! So good!!! We have miracles here everyday!!!
Also, when the elders where here thursday, they had a woman come up to them in the grocery store. Her name is Izabel and she has been trying to find us! Crazy. She has a fiance who is a member and lives in the states. Turns out, the brother of her fiance came here on business for the church and was visiting her on saturday. So she invited us for lunch so we could meet and speak english with him. Super cool! We got to meet her whole family... And Izabel lives in a very nice apartment building behind our house. We can wave to her from our kitchen window!! Crazy. Also, she owns a bakery on the corner and told us to go get free bread there every morning!! We started going by and the girls that work there LOVE us and have started just filling up a bag of all sorts of bread, cakes, juice, and sandwich type things for us. And she told us to feel free to come by in the morning as well as the afternoon. CRAZY. I am pretty sure we are going to get very very fat....... haha.
Sunday, miracle of miracles, we had TEN investigators in church!!! All thanks to the bishop, who invited a TON of his extended family... super cool. We also had Luiza´s baptism, which was awesome. She was so happy and excited and her whole family as well. =]
All in all, we worked really hard all week and a lot of miracles came as the result. Amazing!
I love and miss you all!!!
have the best week!!
Sister Ward
(Note from Ashley: I didn't believe her emails that said everything was sunshine-lollipops-and-rainbows down there, so I asked her what she hates about her mission, and this is what she said)
Things that bug me.... hahahaha. There are a LOT..... And usually I´m fine with things, unless I get depressed or in a bad mood... hahaha
1. when I lose my email time because of the unorganizedness of a lunch activity that takes all
2. I trip a TON. When did I become such a spaz??? I´ve never felt so clutzy in my entire life!!! hahahahaha. you would die laughing if you could see it.
3. When people dont even try to understand my portuguese. They´ll just be like "I dont understand" over and over again. It is so annoying. Cause I´m trying my best here!!!! Gah. I think some people would rather just use that as an excuse not to listen to us. haha.
4. When I get forced to eat a LOT more food than I would like. Just cause someone only eats one plate of food doesnt mean the food is bad or something..... But alas, we always have to eat two plates or more.
5. I miss you all a ton. I only get to email you all once a week and I almost never get letters. It´s hard not to feel cut off from the world. I know that it is all for a good reason and we need to be focused here, but it is like all of a sudden all the people in my life dissappeared. You know? I get my hopes up every tuesday when we get mail at our zone meetings, but I usually dont get anything.
6. RAIN. It is really hard to work in the rain and we just get completely soaked and stay soaked all day. It stinks. This week has been sunny so far though. =]

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hey everyone!!!

Hey everyone!!
Everything is just great here in Araras.
Last week was difficult with all the rain.... It rained ALL WEEK.... but Sunday the weather turned around for the better and that makes our work a lot easier!
Last P-day we had a churrasco (bbq) at a member´s house. Irmã Katia has been teaching us how to cook brazilian food and she decided to have a churrasco for us! It was SO GOOD. Mmmmmm. They were so nice to do it for us... They always get sooooo much food for us to come over and afterwards she sent us home with bags of food and things. It´s amazing to me how giving people are here!
Churrasco!!! This is seriously one of the best things about brazil....soooooo good!

Coconut at our churrasco. Pretty good!! I dont like the juice inside much though....
On Friday, it was still raining, but Mariana (the young lady with a car that comes knocking doors with us a lot) STILL came and worked with us all afternoon! SO NICE. I know I would never have done that if it was me..... haha. But she loves to help us. It is so great.
This past week was kind of difficult... with the rain, it was practically impossible to find anyone that was willing to hear our message. We´ve also been having some trouble being able to actually catch our investigators at home... It is hard, because we want to help them, but if we cant talk with them, we cant do anything or find out what happened.... So that has been a little frustrating...
BUT, we´ve also had some success too! Sunday we had SUCH a good day... some people that we have been working with for a while started to really show some interest and progress!! Super exciting.
Monday as well was AMAZING. We had two young women from the ward working with us for the afternoon. Aline, who has worked with us a lot before, and Julia--it was her first time. And they LOVED it and were so excited the whole time!! They are only 12 and 11, but they talk with everyone as we knock doors, and they even prepared a lesson to share with Sonia. They are amazing missionaries already! And it was Julia´s first time, and she loved it so much! It is so cool to help get them excited about missionary work. It is one of my favorite experiences as a missionary. 
Julia and Aline in a little park where we stopped for a bit so they could plan a message to share with Sonia. They rocked it too, by the way. Such awesome little missionaries!!!! =]
another day when Aline came with us... hahaha. I somehow always look a little crazy in these pics....

Funny stories---
I have a great one this week...
So, Friday after we worked with Mariana, she took us to her house in the evening for dinner. Her dad-Bene, speaks english, and always tries to help me with my portuguese. He knows I dont talk much, and just let Sister Pedersen do the talking and answering peoples´questions, so he likes to always make a point of talking just to me. It is super intimidating!! He sat down right across from me and was asking me all about what we did that day-- in detail. hahah. When we sat down for dinner, he asked me to say the prayer and bless the food. But, he said that I couldnt use the word "coisas" ("things"). I use that ALL the time in my prayers.... Because I dont have a very good vocabulary yet, so I can just say that we are grateful all the "things" in our lives, our ask to bless this family with all the "things" that they need... You get the point. hahaha.
So, I was a little nervous, but I was doing pretty well..... Then when I was asking to bless the food, I said "... abencõe este alimento, que vai fazer mal por nossos corpos..." Which means "please bless this food to be BAD for our bodies.... Wooops. It took me a second to realize what I had said.... Then I paused, then started laughing a little bit.... but everyone was completely silent. Awkward. hahah. Then I did my best to correct it and finish.... Oh boy. And afterwards, only me and Sister Pedersen were laughing.... Sister P. was a little red in the face from trying not to laugh during the prayer... But Bene was just like "Parabens" (congrats) and shook my hand. "That was so good, that was perfect, good job..." hahah. Oh portuguese. 
And a scripture for today..
Mosiah 3:19
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him even as a child doth submit to his father.
I really like the line about being willing to submit to anything that God asks of us. Even if it is just a rainy week, it is hard to have patience and try to learn from all the experiences that we have in our lives. But I know that we need to trust in God and trust that He has a bigger, better plan for each of us. I know that as we try our best to do that, we can learn important lessons from these experiences and it will help us so much in our lives.
Well. I love you all so much!!
I hope you all have a great week!!!
Sister Ward
(Extra Pictures)
Sonia´s baptism!!! Sister Pedersen and I with Sonildes and Sonia. (From this blog post)     
this is where I tripped hard-core that one day.... There is a bump there in the sidewalk!!! I promise!!!!!!!! haha.
All the sidewalks here look like this pretty much....  with that cool pattern in the stones. 
(From this blog post)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Transfers and More

Hey everyone!!
So--- first things first. We had transfers this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!! drum roll........ And Sister Pedersen and I are both staying!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! We are super happy because things are going sooooo sooo well here in Araras right now. I´m so glad we get another 6 weeks here!
As I said, things are AMAZING here in Araras. We keep having sooo many miracles!!! And the members here are amazing. Just amazing. They are helping us sooo much!!
ARARAS!!!! The coolest place ever!!!!!!!!!!!
Miracles from the week:
Saturday morning, Sonia called us crying.... we were a little worried at first and Sister P. asked her if everything was okay. She was like "yeah I am just so happy!!". Turns out, her sister had called and talked with her... They had been fighting/not talking for quite a while, but somehow Sonia´s sister was talking to Sonia´s husband and he told her about all the changes Sonia has been making in her life. And he told her about us and how Sonia is so much happier now and able to cope with her mom passing away. Sonia´s sister--- Sonildes, has been having a SUPER hard time with their mom passing away as well.. She hasnt been sleeping, can hardly eat, has been smoking 3-4 packs of cigarettes every day, and has been so so miserable.... When she heard about how Sonia has been changing her life she was like "I want to meet these angels". So. She and Sonia started talking again, completely made up and Sonia was calling us to tell us how Sonildes wanted us to come by her house that night. AMAZING. Sonia was like "I just couldnt wait to call you because I´m so happy!!!". MIRACLES.
And that evening we were able to go to Sonildes house with Sonia, her husband Saul and their daughter Sabrina. It was soo good. We were able to just talk with her, and mostly just listen. We hardly said anything, and Sonia just testified to her. It was so amazing to hear her testimony and see how she has learned and understands everything that we have taught her. She has the strongest testimony!!! She is amazing! Such a cool experience.
Sunday--Sonia was baptized!!!!! And it was perfect.So many members came and are helping to bring her into the ward. Perfect. And it is amazing to see how much Sonia has progressed and how much she has changed since the day we first met her. The difference is like night and day. She was super nervous before the baptism, but her face after she came up out of the water was sooooo happy!!! She couldnt stop smiling.
And a sidenote.... people here always say "God bless you" when you part ways..... Since we taught her about how God is her Heavenly Father and that she can pray to Him as Heavenly Father, she always says "may Heavenly Father bless you..." when we part. =]
Also, Sonildes came to the baptism and loved it!! She is so willing and ready to do everything that Sonia has been doing to change her life.
We were able to pass by her house again on monday and meet with her. She told us that she was able to sleep without problems both Saturday night after we first met her, and Sunday after the baptism and after the Bishop gave her a blessing. She told us that she has been praying and reading about the plan of salvation from the pamphlet we left her. She kept telling us how she wants to do everything that Sonia has been doing.... she already has cut down her smoking from 3-4 packs a day to only 3-4 cigarettes a day!!!!!!!!! CRAZY. We also invited her to prepare for baptism at the end of the month and she said yes!!
I´m so excited to keep working with her!!! She is so ready and willing. I dont know how we have been so blessed to find people so prepared to hear our message. So many miracles!
And some funny stories....
Friday, while we were at our lunch appointment, the weather started to get a little scary.... It had been fairly sunny and warm when we left, but by the time we were about to leave our lunch, it was raining like crazy, windy, with thunder and lightening. Love it......Okay, maybe not so much.
The members were super nice and offered us a ride to where we were going to work that day.... Which of course, was in a completely different neighborhood on the opposite side of the city. While we were in their car, I kept feeling water on my ankles.... I thought it was from the window at first, because it was open a little bit at the top. But when we went through a huge puddle, I got a splash of water on my feet!!! So I looked down, and there was a hole in the floor of the car!!!!!!!! hahah. So we could see the water rushing by as we drove!!! hahah. Crazy.
Afterwards, while were walking in the rain, the streets had rivers running down the gutters.... And the path we usually take is dirt..... and Sister P. thought it would be a genius idea to try to still climb this dirt path over a hill to get to our investigator´s house.... It was NOT a genius idea. hahaha. Her shoe got stuck in the mud for a bit... but dont worry, it was all part of the fun. 
Sister Pedersen and the hill we tried to climb in the rain...... It had turned into a muddy river. hahaha.
AND to continue our rainy day story.... While were walking on the paved road because the hilly, dirt shortcut wouldnt work, it was still raining and SUPER windy. I bought an umbrella here in brazil..... (ASH, the one you gave me was taken from me against my will..... by someone who apparently needs it more than I do.....) ... and it isnt the best.... haha. So as we were walking, I was joking about all our mishaps in the rain and as I start listing things off, my umbrella flips inside out!! hahahahah. It was PERFECT timing. Sister Pedersen and I nearly died we were laughing so hard.

My umbrella is super classy..... Dont even try to deny it.

And another---
Monday, our district leader Elder Lobato and Elder Raleigh were working with us here in Araras. We were visiting with Sonia before they left that night. But Sonia loves to talk, and as we kept trying to leave, it got closer and closer to when they had to catch the last bus that would make it back to the bus station in time for them to catch the last bus of the day to their area. When we finally leave, it is 8:00 and the bus is supposed to pass at 8:10. So the four of us are running to first take a girl from the ward who was helping us back to her house, and make it to the bus stop by her house. As we are getting close to her house, we see the bus starting to head up. So we all take off running as fast as we could to beat the bus. And we missed it as it passed at that stop. But we knew the bus would head back down through the neighborhood back where we had been over by Sonia´s house. So we left our friend from the ward, and the four of us took off running again back through where we had just come. The whole time we could see the bus coming down on the other streets and we were just trying to beat it back to the next bus stop. I´m sure it was hilarious to see two sisters in skirts and two elders in their white shirts and ties running full speed down the streets at night.... hahaha. We ended up missing the bus within seconds. Hahaha. All our running in vain!! But miracle of miracles, we were able to call a young lady from the ward who helps us teach a lot, and has a CAR and she was able to come pick us all up and take the elders to catch their bus. So it all worked out. I just hope we didnt freak out too many people  in the street as we ran by.... haha

And one more rainy day story......
last night it started rainy again like CRAZY!!!! Harder than I´ve ever seen it rain!!! There were honestly rivers going down at the edge of every street. And at street crossings, they always have a little dip/gutter thing for the water to run down, but there was soooo much water that it was overflowing!! Onto the sidewalks and everywhere. We would have to try to jump the water every time we crossed a street, but the little rivers would be nearly four feet across! We got to one that was especially gigantic.... and Sister Pedersen was in front of me. She paused for a second and I figured she was getting ready to jump it..... but then she changed her mind and just waded through it. hahaha. And the water came up to her knees!!!!!!!!! ahahahahaha. It was one of the funniest moments of my life. Needless to say, we got to the members house where we were headed fairly soaked, and they very kindly gave us a ride home afterwards.... which was good because while we were sitting at their house, the rivers in the streets had turned into torrential floods. Sweeping gigantic carboard boxes and other trash away down the street. It was pretty intense.
Anyways, everything is just so great here!!!
I love Araras and being a missionary and I never want to leave!!! hahaha.
Thanks so much for all your prayers; I know it´s because of your prayers that we have been having so many miracles.
So thank you. =]
Love and miss you all!!!
Have a great week!!!
Sister Ward