Thursday, August 23, 2012

And Another Week in ARARAS.... (Aug 8)

Hey everyone!!!
Did I mention lately that I love Araras???! Yep. I love it!!! =]
This week was gooooooood! Some tough times, but we have had some miracles as well!! 
To start it off, some funny stories....
For those of you that know me best, you may recall that me and grape flavored things DONT get along....I blame whatever grape flavored medicine that my parents force-fed me as a child....  The amount of times I´ve already had to drink grape soda and grape juice out here on the mission is ridiculous. I think Heavenly Father likes to tease me sometimes.....
One of the other things that I CANNOT stand is jello. Yep. Jello. I just hate it. Sorry to offend anyone... I have no explanation, but I really, really dont like jello. 
This past week I was telling Sister Feistner about how much I dislike jello.... We have a family in our ward that almost EVERYTIME that the feed us, they give us jello for dessert.... First time that Sister Pedersen and I ate there, she brought out a big round tray full of cups of jello just for us two... ... YIKES. Then after we each took a cup, she ran to the fridge, and grabbed two more to replace them!!! NOOOOOO. I ate that cup of jello slower than anything I´ve ever eaten in my life..... Afterwards, sister Pedersen was like "I never knew anyone could eat jello that slow...." hahaha. After a few cups of jello each, we were finally able to escape...
The next time we had lunch there, it happened AGAIN. Sister Pedersen knew what was up this time, so she helped me out with the jello.... When the Irmã that gave us lunch went into the kitchen, Sis. P. traded her almost empty jello cup for my full one..... hahah. Yay for awesome companions!! 
BUT to the point of the story.... I had just told all of these jello experiences to Sister Feistner this past week..... Monday, we had lunch with a different member. After lunch, she brought out dessert... And of course, it just happened to be GRAPE jello..... 
I nearly died. Sister Feistner nearly died laughing...... We couldnt even look at eachother while we ate it because we couldnt keep straight faces......  IT was terrible. SO BAD. But she was so worried about giving us a wonderful lunch that there was no way we were going to say anything about me hating grape things.... or jello. So like a good missionary, I ate it. And Sister Feistner ate two helpings for me.
Miracles of the week:
A couple weeks ago, we ran into a member and his fiancee walking by the lake. Sister Feistner started to make a contact with them and as she started to say "we are missionaries from the church of jesus christ...." he interrupted her and finished the name of the church. We were a little surprised, and figured they had just already heard about the church and didnt want to hear any more... BUT turns out, he is a member and his fiancee is an investigator that first met with missionaries back in January. Her name is Gidelma and she started coming to church to find out more because of her fiancee, and has been coming to church off and on ever since. The sisters stopped working with her because she got sick for a while, and then was impossible to get a hold of.... Or was making herself hard to get ahold of because she was scared of being pressured to get baptized...
Anyways. While we were talking with them by the lake, her member fiancee joked about her getting baptized the coming Saturday.... WHAT??! The following week, we called her, she told us that she WANTED TO BE BAPTIZED and so we tried to arrange to meet with her all week long... she never answered or returned our calls.
Sunday, they came to church again. So we talked with her and arranged to meet with her FINALLY. Yesterday, we had our first lesson with her. We were a little nervous, not knowing what to expect, but it turned out to be WAYYY better than we could have hoped!!
As we talked with Gidelma, she told us her experiences meeting with the other sisters and finding out about the church. The sisters had taught her about the restoration and given her a book of mormon. They challenged her to read it and pray and that she would receive an answer.. that she would feel the Spirit. She said that she read it and then prayed and felt NOTHING. And so she got frustrated.
She still read a lot, and was reading the gospel principles manual as well.
Quite a while later, she saw an add or something about the church on tv... she decided to get out her book of mormon and read again. She turned to the chapter that the sisters had marked for her and it was talking all about baptism. She said that as she was reading, she felt the Spirit so strong and just started crying. As she was reading she knew it was all true and that she needed to be baptized. AMAZING.
By the time we met with Gidelma yesterday, she had read the ENTIRE book of mormon and the ENTIRE gospel principles manual!! She had only ever been taught the first lesson (about joseph smith, the restoration and the book of mormon), but as we started to teach her all the other lessons, she started to explain everything TO US. She already knew everything!!! We taught all five lessons while we were sitting around her kitchen table (well really, we asked her about things and she taught us.... haha).
It was amazing. She is so prepared!!
She told us how she wants to get baptized and we are planning her baptism for this Saturday!!! She made her fiancee-- Justiniano, leave the room for us to talk about baptism. She said that she doesnt want him to know yet because he will get sooooo excited. haha. She is going to surprise him on Friday when she has her baptismal interview. Ahah. She is soooo cute and soo excited about it all. It is absolutely wonderful. I´m so excited for Saturday!!
About Michael...
We had marked baptism with Michael for this coming weekend..... We marked it about a month ago, and have been working with him a LOT since. He still doesnt feel prepared though. He feels like he has to be 100 percent with everything in order to be baptized... feels like he needs to be perfect. We´ve been trying so hard to explain to him that he CANT be perfect, but he still just doesnt feel ready.
We had a really good lesson with him last night. We had a member who was baptized a couple years ago with us and he shared some of his stories and experiences. We tried to help Michael with his doubts and concerns... Basically, we explained that it comes down to him having the faith to take this step, to be baptized. That through the repentance that he is doing now, and baptism, he can have his sins washed away... but he cant be perfect on his on! We read a couple scriptures with him... one that I really like in particular is Alma7:15... I dont remember how it is exactly in english, but it basically says to come, dont be afraid and lay aside your sins and be baptized.... At the end, I shared that scripture with him and invited him again to be baptized this saturday. The spirit was so strong throughout the entire lesson, we had born our testimonies to him and I felt like we had given it our all.... As we waited for him to answer, I was SURE he was going to say yes... But, in the end, he still said that it is too soon. AH.
Point being, with Michael, we have been working him a lot for a long time now.... He has been doing everything... reading, praying and changing his life. He has progressed so much!! And I know that he is ready for baptism now. We have taught him everything and teaching him has really pushed me to think and try to find experiences/scriptures to share to help him specifically. Working with him has made me work so hard to teach better every time. I feel like I have given my all in teaching him.
But,even so, this decision is up to him. Anddddd that is hard for me to accept. hahah.
But, I still have hope that he will have a change of heart and that Heavenly Father will help him feel prepared to be baptized. We are going to meet with him again, and we challenged him to pray about baptism this saturday but with real intent. I hope that he does and that he can recognize the answer.
Hopefully this time next week I´ll be able to send you a picture of Michael dressed in white for his baptism!!! =]
Well, we are off to go experiment chicken feet at a members house this afternoon....... Yikes. I´ll let you all know how that goes down.
love you all so much!!
have the best week!!!!!!!!
Sister Ward

Hey Everyone!!! (July 25)

Hey everybody!!!
Time to write again!!
It´s been a good week.... A bit tough at times, but good. It´s been interesting having to know my way around and show Sister Feistner how to get places and fill her in on all of our investegators here. I really HAVE to know this stuff now!!! hahaha. But it is good, and I´m learning a lot.
So, I think I told you all that Sister Feistner is from Spokane too..... But she´s from the valley--- Newman Lake, so we havent discovered many connections in common yet... BUT, turns out she took seminary from President Lee!! So let him know that he´s got a past seminary student and a past institute student serving together!!! haha.
Some cool stuff from this week....
We´ve been working with a young man named Michael for a while now.... He has been coming to church off and on throughout the last year or so, and he already has been taught by some of the sisters who were here last fall. He is 18, plays soccer and is super funny. He is always joking and using a lot of slang that we cant understand.... haha. He is super awesome! He loves meeting with us and walks from his house for about 45 minutes to get to the church and meet with us there. We´ve already taught him basically everything and he knows it is all true. He knows he needs to get baptized and part of him wants to get baptized, but he is still scared of the committment..... So we´ve been working with him and trying to help him a LOT. In the last lesson we had with him before transfers, we made some goals with him and he agreed to prepare to be baptized Aug. 12th. wooo!!
This past week, Sister Feistner and I met with him and talked a lot with him about baptism and what is holding him back. He said that he still doesnt feel prepared.... So we talked with him for a while and Sister Feistner started to question him about things and try to get to know him better. As she was doing that, she started to slip in the baptismal interview questions. He responded so well to everything! and he has such a good testimony already! Afterwards, she showed him the questions and explained to him that maybe he doesnt feel prepared, but the Lord knows he is. At the end of the lesson, he agreed to pray specifically about being baptized on Aug. 12th. !!! ( It may not seem like it, but this is a HUGE deal!!! He has NEVER agreed to pray about baptism before.... he would just always say "why bother praying? I know I need to be baptized, but it´s not gonna happen for a while")
Monday, we were able to meet with him again. Turns out, he had been reading the chapter we marked for him in the book of mormon a LOT. He read through it three times because he liked it so much!!!!! And he also prayed about being baptized the 12th!! He then told us that while he was reading he started to feel so much joy that he just wanted to share it with everyone. He looked out the window of his apartment to find someone to tell about it, but he only found a group of people smoking on the sidewalk outside... haha. But he said that he felt good about the 12th. He still wants more of an answer, but I´m super excited about his progress!!!
Also, Sunday both José and Guilherme were able to be confirmed and receive the holy ghost! Super cool!!! Guilherme is still so excited about everything... He has such a desire to learn everything he can about the gospel and loves it so much!! He is already super excited about going to institute and has been reading the institute manuals!! haha. What kind of 21 year old does that???!! He is amazing.
Oh, and last week I saw Elder Sands from our stake! I talked to him a bit when we all met in the rodaviária in Campinas for transfers, and then he was at our multi-zone conference last thursday as well. Fun to see someone from home!
Hope you all are doing well, have the best week!
Sister Ward
Sister Pedersen and I at Irmã Katia´s house one p-day, being our mature selves. =]

Batismo de LUISA!!!!!!!!! She was SO excited!! holy cow.

Best treinadora in the WORLD. Dont know if it really shows in the pic, but my hair is turning blonde now........
People think we are super cool cause we´re from the states and speak ENGLISH.... here is an example how people love to put english on everything.... whether it makes sense or not. haha

Pastels we made at Irmã Katia´s house!!

Batismo de JOSÉ
Batismo de GUILHERME!!!!!!!!! Such a perfect day!!! =]

Did I mention that basically everyone here has turtles as pets????? big ones, small ones, ones kinda in the middle like this guy.... I´ll have to send you all a photo of the HUGE one that another member family has.... Makes me think of the giant turtle in swiss family robinson, the one that he rides around on. haha

the praça at night!! This is another reason why Araras ROCKS.

My new comp. Sister Feistner in a  little tree house we found when out knocking doors with two girls from the ward the other day.

Remember when I said that one of our investigators- Izabel has a bakery and lets us pass and get free food everyday???? This is what the girls that work there loaded up for us last time our lunch appointment fell through.... =]
The girls there are seriously the BEST and love to see us and talk with us everyday. We started out only asking for a little bit of bread every morning, but one of the girls (Jessica) took on the job of loading up a bag or two of goodies for us everyday and making sure we try everything. In exchange for our food, we drop off a little note with a scripture and message for Izabel everyday... She LOVES it and we sure love having food, so I guess it works out. =]

Hey Everyone!!!! TRANSFER NEWS!!!! (July 18)

It´s been another week already....  and we had transfers yesterday!!!!
ANDDDDDD. I´m staying in ARARAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I have a new companion, Sister Feistner.... who is actually from Spokane. Out in the valley by Liberty Lake. Crazy!!!
But, about last week....
Miracle of the week= GUILHERME!!!!!!!!!!
We found Guilherme a few weeks ago when we were doing contacts on the praça (the park in the middle of center). There is always a good amount of people there at night on weekends, so we like to go by and invite people to church and such..... So we were doing that one evening and we were getting ready to head home, when I saw Guilherme.... I noticed him because he is SO TALL. He is about 2 meters tall.... I think that equates to about 6 foot 6 inches..... I saw him standing by a lamp pole and pointed him out to Sister Pedersen. She thought he WAS a lamp pole..... hahaha. But then we went over and talked with him, just invited him to church and asked if we could come by his house sometime to share a message with him. He was super nice and seemed pretty interested.
A week or so later, we were having lunch in an area close to the address he gave us, so Sister Pedersen remembered him, and we decided to pass by. He was sleeping and woke up when we knocked, but when we apologized and said we could come back another day, he just was like "no, no! I´m awake now, and you came all the way out here.... so let me just get some shoes..." haha. So he just grabbed some sandals really quick and came out  and let us teach him sitting on the sidewalk across from his house. It was an awesome lesson!!!!!!!!!!!!! We taught him about the restoration and he LOVED it!!!! He understood everything, said it all made sense and was so excited about the book of mormon and coming to church on sunday! He had gone to several different churches, looking to find the right one.... but never found it. So when we started teaching him, he was so excited- so ready to hear from us!!!!!!! Sister Pedersen and I were freaking out. He is GOLDEN!!!!!!!!!
So, over the last couple weeks we have been teaching him. We taught him about the plan of salvation and he told us how it answered so many of his questions and things he has been wondering about. When we taught him about the commandments, he understood everything, didnt have problems with ANYTHING and completely agreed with everything... including things like the word of wisdom and tithing. which can be tough for some people to accept.
The second lesson we had with him, we asked him if he had prayed and asked if the book of mormon was true and the message of the restoration was true. He was like "I didnt even need to pray and ask... I knew it was true from the minute you started teaching me about it" WHAT?!?!?!? AMAZING.
So, we invited him to get baptized and he said YES!!!!!!!! He just said he would like to go to church first and see what it was like....
We picked him up for his first sunday and he loved it!!!!!!!!! He loved all the classes so much.... He even brought his scriptures and was looking up all the scriptures shared in class or in the talks in Sacrament meeting. AMAZING. And he learned so much that he was so excited about... in our next lesson he shared a lot of the things he learned and liked from church. It was awesome.
So after his first sunday, we asked him again about baptism and being baptized the coming sunday (last sunday). He said he would and that he felt prepared. WHAT??????????? That NEVER happens. But he really was prepared. So prepared, before we ever found him!
And sunday, he was baptized!!!!!!!!!! It was soooooo cool. Holy cow. He was so excited and nervous all through church..... But sooo so happy at the same time. He is such  a happy person. At his baptism, I played a hymn on the violin because he loves folk music, and wanted to hear me play. It was the perfect baptism. Perfect day. Afterwards he was like "I´m never gonna forget today." ahhhhhh. So great!
Well, everything is good here, I cant believe I´ve been out in the field for two transfers already!!! Crazy!!!
I´m excited to get to work with my new comp. and I´ll update you all on all the miracles in a week from now!!!
have the best week!!!
love you all!!!!!!!!
Sister Ward

Another Wonderful Week!

Hello everyone!!!
I cant believe that we are already in JULY!!!!! Here in a couple days I´ll be at my four month mark here in Brazil!!!! CRAZY!!!!!
Last week was SO GOOD!!!! AHHHH.
In particular....we had the hugest miracle.
One of our investigators, José, we have been teaching since before I got here. He was a missionary for his church before, has studied the bible a LOT and he has always had a lot of doubts and really hard questions for us. Each lesson we would leave with questions unanswered, or when we tried to answer his questions, he either couldnt understand us, or wouldnt accept our answers. It has been TOUGH.
He even came to church a couple times trying to get answers for all of his many doubts, but with little success.... So we really were just stumped on what to do. I think we would have quit passing him eventually, if not for Alexandre who lives in the back at his house. Alexandre was SUPER accepting and excited about everything we taught, so we kept coming back and taught the two of them together.
Sunday before last, we were able to go by with a member and talk with José. It was PERFECT for him. He was able to ask all of his questions and discuss his doubts for the entire time.... And at the end, the member-Irmão Zezinho was just like "the only way you are going to know if this is all true is through reading the book of mormon, and praying about it". THIS was the essential thing that he was missing!!! And Irmão Zezinho just bore his powerful testimony to him and challenged José to actually read and pray.
Then, we were able to go by another night that week with another member couple. The lesson turned into another question session for José and he just discussed and debated all of his doubts with Irmão Luiz Antonio. But again, Irmão Luiz just bore his testimony of the book of mormon and challenged him to read and pray.... which he still wasnt doing.
The next night we came by again with Irmão Luiz Antonio and his wife Luciana. That night, Sister Pedersen and I challenged José to read and REALLY pray about being baptized and he said he would.
The next day, Sister Pedersen and I came by again. Every lesson, we always start out with some of José´s many questions.... but this night he didnt have ANY. WHAT??! Then we asked him if he had prayed about baptism and how it went. He told us that he had prayed and while he was reading the book of mormon, he got his answer. He knew he should be baptized!!!!! Then he told us he would be baptized sunday!!
IT was AMAZING!!!! It was a HUGE testimony builder for me of the power of the book of mormon. Just reading took away all of his doubts and uncertainties and left him knowing exactly what he needed to do!!! The change that it worked in him was HUGE. He was one of those people that we taught, but figured would never get to the point of baptism, because he couldnt accept so many things that we taught him..... But once he got his testimony of the book of mormon, that all changed!
Sunday, José was baptized and it was SO COOL. So cool. Miracles really do happen!!!! The book of mormon is TRUE.
I want to send some pictures, but it will have to wait till next week...... I cant figure out this computer today......
Everything is going so well here!!! I love love love LOVE it here in Araras!!!!
We have transfers the coming tuesday, and i am crossing my fingers that Sister Pedersen and I can both stay..... but we will see what happens!!!
As for funny stories----
Lately, Sister P. and I have just been laughing a lot at how terrible our english is becoming..... Right now, I cant really speak Portuguese or English.... Just some kind of terrible mess of the two. ahahah. But almost everytime that we are speaking English, we end up throwing portuguese words accidently into the middle of it. It definitely makes life entertaining! hahah
Sister P. has a running quote book of the more memorable phrases...... The best ones are when we start using portuguese grammar structure in English.... like "he has two years..." instead of "he´s two years old....". yep.
But, I´m gonna take this new development as a change for the better. hahaha. Always progressing. =]

Well. I love you all!!!! And i hope you all have a wonderful week!!!
Sister Ward

Hello Again!

Well, it has been an awesome week!!!
The work here is going sooooo well!!!
I never want to leave Araras!!!
Last week was a little challenging.... Each week we have a goal of having 15 lessons with a member present. BUT, last week was hard because it is the beginning of school holidays. So the people we marked to teach with us bailed for various reasons, people who normally help us a TON were traveling or out of town, and we couldnt find ANYONE who could teach with us.
As of Saturday night, we still needed 11 lessons with a member and we had no idea how we could get that..... we were praying pretty hard.
Sunday, was a day of miracles!!!  When we got to church, one of the girls who wanted to help us was back in town. She talked with us about working with us this week and said she was free anyday.... So we asked her "well, can you go today?" And she was like "sure!!! and let me ask Lorena to come with us too!!" SO, we ended up having two girls to help us Sunday afternoon, so we were able to split and knock doors on each side of the road and get all our lessons for the week!! Amazing.
Also. Huge miracle of sunday...... We, once again, had TEN investigators in church!!!!! WOOOOO. Only this week, it was even better, because 9 of them were OUR investigators that we are actually teaching!!!!! Super cool!
For our gospel principles class, there were so many investigators and recent converts there that we couldnt fit in our class room!! We usually have a class of about 5-9 people.... but sunday we had about 20-25!!! We had to move into the chapel to have enough space!!! It was AMAZING.
And last miracle from sunday..... We have a couple investigators that ask us a lot of questions that we dont understand, or they dont understand us when we try to respond. One man, José was a missionary for his church and has always studied the bible a LOT. He has a ton of specific, obscure questions for us and wants to understand EVERYTHING completely. We leave every lesson with him with many of his questions unanswered.... But, sunday we were able to take a  couple in our ward to the lesson with us. Irmão Zezinho and Irmã Aparecida. Irmão Zezinho knows SO much about the gospel and studied a lot when he was learning about the church and before and after he was baptized. He had many of the same questions, and so he was able to help José with all of the questions that he has been asking us, and answer them in a way that he could understand. It was AWESOME.
Anyways. We are having a LOT of miracles here and our investigators are progressing so much!!!! It makes me so happy to see them at church, to see them making friends with the members and to see the members helping out so much!!
This week, we have members with us at lessons EVERY day!!! Crazy!!! They are getting so involved and helping us so much!! It is great!!
Funny story from the week:
We had one lunch in particular when I just made a fool of myself..... The Irmã who was giving us lunch was finishing up cooking, so I asked her if she needed any help. She said no, so I just sat at the table and was talking with her...... APPARENTLY, I really cant understand everything people say though, because  afterwards Sister Pedersen told me that as she was putting noodles into a different pot she said "oh sister, you can help me now..."... But, I didnt realize that is what she said. So I just stayed sitting there and did nothing. Woops.
At that same lunch, I also somehow dropped shredded cheese into her cup of soda...... GREAT. hahaha.
AND, I think the story of my incident when Irmão Bene asked me to say the prayer and not use the word "coisas" (things) and I accidently blessed the food to be BAD for our bodies, has been traveling around our ward here in Araras..... Several people have teased me about saying the word "coisas".... hahaha. They all seem to think it is hilarious. Sister Pedersen included.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!!
Love you all!!!
Sister Ward