Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mcdonalds + Coca-cola + Sister Feistner + Skateboard = ????

It has been a crazzzyyyy week!!
So, about my week I guess....
picking up from last pday....... After I wrote to you all last monday, Sister Feistner and I and the elders in our district, Elder Oliveira Souza and Elder Raleigh, all went to the chapel to have our district activity.... So we got Big macs from Mcdonalds and brought some goodies from the bakery and we all had lunch in the chapel. That was my FIRST McDonalds in Brasil!!! woooo!! ha. BUT really, McD´s is WAY expensive here....... people spend 16-18 reais on a meal! INSANE! One of the members was joking that if you are dating in Brasil and you like the girl, you take her to Mcdonalds, where as in the states, you take her to McDonalds if you want to break up. hahah. But that big mac was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good!!!! mmmmmmmm. Still really miss IN-N-OUT though.... haha. Just a year left, just a year!
The plan for our activity was to play futbol (soccer!) on the nice little soccer feild that they have at the chapel... It has GRASS and everything!!!! But sadly, the elders didnt bring a ball...... So, after we had lunch, we started searching the chapel to see if there was a ball there...... We had brought a 2L bottle of coca-cola and we all drank coke out of our water bottles at lunch....  Only problem ---- Sister Feistner is HYPER sensitive to the caffeine in coca-cola and goes CRAZY after about two glasses...... Yep. If she drinks two cups of coke at a members house at dinner time, she wont sleep at night.... So after an entire water bottle of coke, she was WIRED.  She was doing cartwheels up and down the halls in the chapel as we were searching for a soccer ball.... We probably spent a good 40 minutes just looking through all of the cabinets and rooms in the chapel to try to find a ball, but... no such luck.  We were at the chapel to play soccer and we had NO BALL. Sweet.
I wasnt too worried about it.... We had the violin and Elder Oliveira brought a guitar, so we were just kind of jamming and chilling in the Relief Society room. BUT, as I said before, Sister F. was wired, and still pacing up and down... Elder Raleigh (we arrived from the CTM together and have been in the same district ever since...) is a pretty legit skateboarder and brought his skateboard to our activity. SO, Sister F. decided the best use of her time would be to learn how to skateboard.... She asked our district leader, Elder Oliveira if it was okay if she skated, and we were all like "do what you want" and kept playing violin and guitar.... There were also two sisters passing through our area on monday (one of the sisters is going home next transfer and so she asked to come back to Araras for the pday and say goodbye to members and her converts here) and they came to the chapel for a little bit before they left..... when Sister Feistner went to start skateboarding one of the sisters was like "You arent really gonna do that are you??? You´re gonna hurt yourself!".... The elders were just like "nooooo, dont worry about it! she knows what she´s doing!!" hahah. Just makes it so much BETTER what happened next.....
AND, so sister F. takes the skateboard and starts trying to figure out how to stand on it.... and then starts skating around a little bit there in the R.S. room (dont worry, its got tiled floors). About a MINUTE later, she pushed herself off of the wall, lost her balance and fell on her face. We all start to freak out, but she just gets back up and is like "I´m good, I´m good, dont worry!!" and goes to gab the board again.... Then, she realizes that her chin is bleeding and puts her hand up to cover it and yells for me to come with her to the bathroom...... We didnt even realize she was hurt until I was following her out to the bathroom.
We get to the bathroom and she stands over the sink and starts washing her chin off.... it is bleeding A LOT..... And because she was washing it, the blood and water made it look even worse. OHHHHHH gosh... So I started to get a little sick and had to sit on the floor in the bathroom as she washed it off. hahahahahah. AWESOME companion, right???
Finally, she washes it out and the bleeding slows down and we can see what happened. She had a giant HOLE in her chin!!! haha. Okay, maybe not giant, but definitely a hole. At this point, I am still feeling a little queesy, so I had to go sit on the floor in the hallway and play the violin to ignore it..... hahah. But the elders started looking at it, and figured that she probably needed to go get stitches...... So, we called up Irmã Fatima, and she and Natalia came to take us to the hospital, we broke up the party, and Sis. F and I went to go get stitches in her face.... hahah.
AND, I had to be with her for the whole thing.... EVEN though I was already a little queesy and dont, dont, DONT like needles...  So, I found the best solution for the situation and waited outside the open door. =] hahaha. Once again, best companion EVER award!! hahah.
She ended up justing getting two little stitches on her chin, and through the whole thing, she was more concerned about the giant bruise on her leg from where she fell on the cell phone that was in her pocket than the hole in her face!! hahah.
Anyways.... made for an interesting pday..... and the entire week afterwards as everyone we talked to would suddenly get distracted by the stitches in Sis. F´s chin... hahah.
It was also PERFECT timing, because the NEXT DAY, we had a multi-zone conference with President and Sister Perrotti as well as Elder Mezzagardi (an area seventy) and his wife..... hahah. And Sister Feistner had stitches in her face. Sweet. =]
Tuesday, we had the Multi-Zone with Elder Mezzagardi. That was INTENSE...... It started off fairly normal... you know, song,( and I had to lead the music!!!) prayer, announcements, Pres. and Sister Perrotti spoke real quick and then Sister Mezzagardi spoke.... but then Elder Mezzagardi spoke for the rest of the day. We got there at about 7 in the morning... the meeting started at 9/9:30?? and went until we had a break for lunch, then again until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. And he was INTENSE. Man. He burned us real good!!! hahah. oh gosh. But he is a really good speaker......he could just keep going, all day!! and everytime he thought we were all getting too sleepy, he would make us all standup and stretch. just to make sure he really had our attention. =] haha.
This week, we started teaching a woman named Luciana who moved here about a month ago from Rio Claro (a city close by...). The Elders in Rio Claro taught her and her family, and her three oldest sons were baptized several months ago.... She wanted to get baptized as well, but didnt end up getting baptized before she moved here. We werent able to get in touch with her until week before last.... But that sunday she and her sons all came to church and she told us that she is preparing to get baptized. The elders had taught her all the lessons and been working with her super hard to get baptized, but it never worked out... They had a lot of problems with her ex-husband who is a drug dealer and addict, and she had to move here out of emergency so that he wouldnt be able to find her or her five kids...  But she really wants to be baptized, and since she moved here, she stopped smoking all on her own with the intent of getting baptized by the end of the year! Wooohooo!! 
She is the sweetest lady and has had such a hard life..... Now, they are living in this little room in the back of a soccer training house where about 35 boys live and train to play soccer.... She is the cooking and cleaning person for this training house and works all day with her little 3 year old boy and her little 8 month?? old girl. They have absolutely NOTHING because her ex-husband took and sold everything that they had to buy drugs.....  Her kids have about one pair of clothes each, they dont have a stove to cook, and they didnt even have a fan in the one hot room where they all live together until some members got them one.  
We are working with her this week and planning to have her baptism this saturday!!!! It was so great talking with her and hearing her testimony and experiences with learning from the elders, the book of mormon and how the gospel has blessed her family already. Her oldest son is 16 and he is already excited about going on a mission in a couple years!! =]
I´m excited to help their family and excited to see the efforts of the ward to help them have the things they need and make them feel welcome here...
ANDDDDD most exciting news!!! IT RAINED THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!
It has been ISANELY hot and dry here lately.... it hasnt rained for more than five minutes in the past two and a half months!! But thursday this week it started to cool off and got pretty windy, and that night the rain finally came! Friday it poured ALL day!! So great!!! Not so much for working in the rain.... but it all worked outfor the best....
I also got sick this week. yay. hahaha. Started feeling a little iffy on thursday.... we went to Izabel´s house that night to have a lesson... Turned out to be her BIRTHDAY, and so she started making up some food for us to eat... As we were sitting there eating salgados (little fried appetizer things?) I started to get super hot, and my face got all red. So then Sister F. and Izabel got all worried about me, although I was fine.... and it ruined the party and we had to go home early. Shoot. hahah.
But the next day, I felt worse, got up to study and ended up just sleeping on the couch.... Our neighbors knocked to say hi, and got all worried that I was sick (just with a super sore throat and I dont even know what else)... So when we went to leave for lunch, they offered to drive us since it was pouring rain and we would have had to walk about 40 minutes in the rain.... ahhhh. Such niceys. AND, they kept checking on me that day, and the next to make sure we were all okay... and went and got me halls and offered us food and everything.... Our neighbors are the best.
lunch didnt really help me to feel any better.... kind of the opposite.... So we ended up trying to teach a little, and then just walking back home, and I slept the rest of the afternoon/evening. hahah. Ohhhhhh gosh. Staying at home days are the worst!!
Saturday night we had a missionary activity with the ward..... Sadly, none of the people we invited came..... but it was still good! We gave a little lesson (super scary speaking in portuguese to a room full of people!), and we had hot dogs..... But the brazilian view of "hot dogs" is wayyyy different.... The ones we had were basically chunky tomato soup/not spicy chili, with peices of hot dogs in it, slapped inside a roll. Yep. hahaha. Costco hot dogs are SOOOOOO much better!!!
Last miracle of the week....
We have been fairly discouraged lately because we have been working hard without many results.... and looking back to a lot of the miracles we were having my first couple transfers, it was a bit depressing..... BUT sunday, we went out to teach a reference from the Temple.... We had tried to pass this family before, but the lady-- Debora, works a TON and was never home and they told us that the only day we would be able to find them was sundays...
Just before we went to their house, Sis. F and I went and said a prayer on the street behind a big truck... And in the prayer, I asked that we could have the spirit with us as we taught her, that we could find people prepared to hear our message and that we could have miracles in our work here..... Well. They were a MIRACLE family!!
It was just Debora there when we got there but she was SOOO excited to see us!! She had been straightening her hair before we got there, so Sister F. offered to do it for her... it was the perfect thing because she just got talking without it being weird at all.... She started telling us her whole life story.... she has had a pretty hard life... and about her uncontrolable desire to serve the Lord and find out about our church! She drove by the temple in Campinas and just wanted to go in SO BADLY. So she went and talked to the people at the little visitors center there, and they gave us her information.... Because of how she felt the spirit there, she told us that she wants to join our church and find out everything she needs to in order to be baptized!! She also wants her eleven year old daughter Gabrielle and her husband João Carlos to join her in finding out about the church and getting baptized. HOLY COW!!! She is sooooo prepared!!! We didnt even really teach a "lesson", because she was just asking so many questions.... we talked about temples, the book of mormon, missions, baptism and how she would like to serve a mission someday..... Wow.
As we started explaining about the book of mormon, she was sooo interested and would ask questions before Sister Feistner could even explain! haha. Then she was like "well, read me part of it!" So we read a little section of 2 Nephi 31 with her and her family, and then prayed with them. They felt the spirit and showed such real interest! ahhh. I´m so excited for them!!
Sadly, we can only teach them on sundays because of her super busy schedule...someone in the family smokes a lot..... and I´ll probably be transferred before they are able to be baptized.... ahhhhg.
But, in conclusion... it was such a strong answer to our prayers teaching their family..... As she started talking when  Sis. F was straightening her hair, we were just in shock. Amazing.
I´m out of time!!
love you all and hope you have the best week!!
hopefully some pictures to come next week!!!
Sister Ward

SIX MONTHS IN!!!! (Sept. 17)

That´s right folks!!! Last friday I hit the SIX MONTH MARK on the mission!!!!!!!!!!
some little miracles from the week:
Wednesday, we decided to go back past some people we had found almost two weeks previously... There was one lady--Rosangela, in particular that we had left a book of mormon with and was having some really hard troubles in her family.... When we got there this week, Rosangela was SO excited that we came by!!! She invited us in and they were in the midst of packing up everything to move to another bairro(neighborhood) that evening! She was like "I was just thinking about you two yesterday!!! And worried that you would pass by again and we would have already left!!!" CRAZY. So, we passed by at the ONLY time we could have actually caught her before they left!! MIRACLES.
AND, she had read the chapter we marked and was very interested for us to come by her new house and teach her more.... we havent had a chance to actually explain about the restoration or the book of mormon yet, so I really hope that we can actually find her new house and do that!!
We were able to have another lesson with Izabel (the one who owns the bakery and is getting married to an LDS american...) this past week!! I LOVE HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She is AMAZING. She is planning to get baptized in the states when she goes to visit for thanksgiving.... I have to admit, I´m fairly bummed that she wont be getting baptized here, but I cant WAIT to see the pictures!!! =]
I have been worried the few times we´ve been able to teach her that her interest in the gospel was more for her future family and culture´s sake and not so much a testimony.... But this week, she blew those ideas out of the water! As we were teaching her, she kept bearing her testimony and sharing insights that literally astounded me and sis. Feistner.... At the end she was like "WAIT! I want to read some of my favorite chapters in the book of mormon with you!!" and she whips out her livro de mormon and starts reading some of the scriptures she had liked and highlighted in Alma 32... She is already reading in Alma 40 something and has been highlighting and ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDING so much the whole way!!! AMAZING. Then she turned to mosiah 4:9-10 and read it to us... it is where it says (and I´m paraphrasing and translating back into english here.... ) "believe in god, believe that he is and that he created all things....." As she was reading that, it just hit me sooooo strong. It was like an answer for all the prayers I´ve said asking for a more faith and a stronger testimony.... Go read it now! I also like the part at the end of verse ten.... "if you believe these things, try to do them". We need to actually follow through on what we believe everyday! and it isnt always easy.... It is way easier to forget and forget the moments like this when we realize so profoundly what we believe.... but we have to remember and apply these things in our lives to carry us through all the other hard times...
With Izabel, I also realized how much I LOVE and am going to miss the people here when I get tranferred!!! AHHHHHHH nOOOOO!! I had a NIGHTMARE about getting transferred last week!!! hahah. It was terrible!! But, on a happier note, Izabel´s future husband has some property out in CDA where he wants to build a house..... SO, I´m hoping that someday soon they will live in CDA and Sister F. and I can BOTH go visit her!!!!! YEAH!!! =]
I had another experience that was a little answer to my prayers this week.... We were teaching the first lesson about the restoration to an investigator named Nadia.... It was only the second time we had talked with her, and we hardly knew her.... USUALLY, I get SUPER NERVOUS teaching the first lesson.... Especially because Sister Feistner has a way of always switching it over to me right in time for the part about joseph smith.... which includes reciting the first vision and potentially inviting the investigator to be baptized. haha. And I get WAY nervous. But, I have been trying so hard, and praying so hard to just be braver and better about talking to EVERYONE and being confident... When I started the first vision with Nadia, it was like a switch got flipped in my head... All of a sudden I WASNT nervous!! I was just like "what are you freaking out about??!" and I just said it and invited her to be baptized!! And she said she would!! haha. IT WAS AWESOME. It is WAY more enjoyable to NOT be stressed and nervous when I´m teaching!!! haha. What do you know?!
ALSO--- Friday, we got to leave and work with Mariana--- one of my favorite people to work with! She used to leave with us a LOT when Sis. Pedersen was here... but afterwards she was out of town for a month and then super busy.... This week, she was finally able to leave with us again! and it was sooo fun! It is so much more enjoyable to walk and to knock doors when we have someone else with us!! and she has been studying english for the past 6 years, but has always been too embarrassed/shy to speak english with us in the past. This time, Sis. Feistner convinced her to practice and speak english with us and it was so fun! She speaks like a boss!! REALLY. I´m super jealous of how well she speaks english..... She was also telling us about how she is thinking about going on a mission... And I think she really will go! She is just deciding whether to leave school and go at the end of this year, or wait till she graduates in 2014.... Listening to her made me think of all my decision process a year ago.... hahaha. And how RIDICULOUSLY stressed out I was... hahah. Oh gosh.... glad I dont have to go through that again.
about brazilians speaking english again..... We also worked a little with a twelve year old that LOVES to leave with us from our ward.... Lorena. She usually asks us questions for her english homework when we work with her... but this time we all started speaking just in english... and she can speak and understand SO WELL!!! I dont know how these people do it!!! GOSH! I´m so jealous!! hahah. Portuguese is still SO HARD!!! I can never conjugate verbs right!!! ahhhhh! It doesnt help that there are about 9 different verb tenses..... ahhhhg. And then the 6 conjugations in every tense..... Probably gonna shoot myself here pretty soon.... hah.
 Well. thats about all that is at all interesting from my week.....
Did I mention that I am DYING because it is SO HOT!!!??? Yep. We are roasting. Its like a sauna. Everyday. Our water completely stopped working for a little while last night, and I got pretty stressed there for a second... cause there is NO WAY we could survive without our twice a day showers... haha
Apparently there are a lot of missionaries getting sick/fainting and even having to go to the hospital because of how hot it is.... And probably cause they arent eating well or drinking enough water....ha. But dont worry, I drink my water like a good little missionary.
Me and Sister Feistner on the bus, hot and sweaty and stinky...... Wooooo. hahaha. no wonder people dont want to talk to us! haha
oh, random thought... An investigator this week started telling us that the angel moroni and jesus are ALIENS..... yep. hahah. We got a little surprised over that one... but his argument was that if angels dont live on the earth, that means they are aliens.... hmmm. Dont know how I feel about that logic. haha
we are heading off to have an activity with the elders..... gonna play some futbol! hahah(soccer). and probably DIE while doing it cause it is so hot!
love you ALL!!! Have the BEST WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Ward
So here´s some pictures for you all............
you better appreciate them, cause my camera is on the last days of its life.... hahah.
parade for 7 de setembro! (brazilian independence day....) We had heard they would have a parade in the morning, but we stayed home to study like good little missionaries... But they parade came to us!! hahah. Right past our windows! It wasnt as exciting as I was expecting..... just the exercito with some drums, one trumpet and one tuba.... hahaha. But I was excited anyways.... =]

We´ve been having some problems with our bathroom the past two transfers.... Our house is very old, and the plumbing isnt so grand apparently.... Our shower hot water burned out twice (dont worry, people in the ward came and fixed it both times!) and a couple weeks ago, the water tube beneath our sink started leaking.... Then it started pouring and spewing water. It was about 10 at night, so we called the bishop and he said he would send some one over the next day. When we got up in the morning, our bathroom was basically a swimming pool!!!!!!!!! hahaha. Seriously. I pulled all the water over to the shower drain, but within  the next hour, it was a swimming pool in there again... hahah. Then, that morning Irmão Luis and his wife came over to fix it.... This picture shows all the crap that came out of the pipes when he cleaned it out to fix it. SICK. Apparently are pipes are all made of iron and there is just a lot of crap in them.... cool. Brush my teeth with that water...

Bruna´s family at the baptism!!!! WOOOOOOOO!
From left to right, her twin brothers Harrison and Harold, Bruna, her grandma, her mom Maria, and her dad Rogerio
They all came for the baptism, and then all came for her confirmation in sacrament the next day!!! YEAH! (sorry the quality is soo bad.... like i said, my camera is dying. ha)
AND, this past sunday, Bruna, her cousin, her mom and her older twin brothers all came to church again!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!! I´m so excited for them!! I hope they keep this up!!!

One of Sister Feistner´s happy drawings for me.... hahaha. We were talking about wondering what the heck is going on in the lives of all our friends back home, and this was her response..... hahah

ANDDDD my planner on my six month mark!! haha. Sister F. stole my planner while I wasnt looking and drew a ninja in it.... hahaha. It was a GREAT day.

Brazilian Jonathon Taylor Thomas, Rat Pee Water, and BATISMO!!!!

Hey everyone!!!!!!!!!!!
Hope that you all are having a great welcome back to school!! woooooo. haha.
a little overview of this week...............
It is HOT. WAY HOT. apparently its not supposed to be this hot yet........ but we have been "blessed" with some early hot weather.... YAY. So I´ve taken up the brazilian custom of showering at night when we get home AND again in the morning......Wow. And still we dont smell so great.... hahah.
Had this awesome meeting with the bishop, leadership in the ward and ward mission leaders where we got lectured for a good 2 hours..... hahhahaha. Oh boy. Great fun. But its all good. The bishop really is cool and trusts us a lot..... They just all get these ideas about how we could be working more efficiently and then spend the entire meeting laying out these ideas that we NEED to be doing...... oh gosh. But in the end, nothing gets done. HA. Great use of time. We came home after that and wanted to drown ourselves in the shower. Its a good thing that I really do love the people in this ward......... when we dont have ward missionary work meetings. hahaha.
But, about our ward..... I really do LOVE these people!!!! It is great, cause after being here almost 5 months... I know almost everyone and have a lot of friends in the members here! I am gonna miss them all so much when I get transferred!!!
It is also fun to think back to when I first got here.... the members are always like "yeah.... sister ward. when she got here she NEVER said anything!!!" "we didnt know she could talk!!!!" hahaha. Its so much better now that I can talk to people. HALLELUJAH!!
We also had a funny experience one afternoon this week...... we were walking down a street talking to this kid who is OBSESSED with us because we are americans..... Yep. happens a lot. He looks like a brazilian version of johnathon taylor thomas at about age 12.... hahaha. But we were talking with him and walking down the middle of the street.... A car was coming fairly fast, so we went over to the side of the road. Right in front of where we were walking was one of those big dips/canals that they have through the intersections for the water to run down and it was full of mud and water.... just as the car is about to come by, he swerves over right in front of us and hits that puddle just right as he flies by to completely SOAK us with dirty water!!! hahahahaha. OHHHHHH gosh. I´m pretty sure that he TOTALLY did it on pupose!! hahah. The water got us soaked from the neck down.... hahaha.  and Johnathon taylor thomas kid was just like "welcome to brazil!" hahahaha. WELP. Never had that one happen before!! And all I could think of after it happened was how Sister Tanner always told us to be careful not to step in the water on the streets cause it is usually full of rat pee.......and about missionaries who get sick and could potentially DIE because of rat pee..... GREAT..... That and how I wish it had happened in the day when it was blazing hot instead of the evening!!! haha.
Another funny experience.... we were working out in the slightly sketchy area where we are starting the "mini-branch" in José Ometto.... we were trying to find some inactive members and ended up knocking at a house full of drag queens..... ahhahaha. ohhhhh boy. One of them came up to us and said that she(he????) was interested in "learning more about Jesus" and so we taught a little bit and left a pamphlet with her(him???). hahaha. There is another first for ya!!
Later we saw some of those same people waiting over on the corner in center where all the prostitutes stand every night..... hahaha.  
Exciting news from the week..............
Bruna--- the shy 11 year old from a less-active family, was baptized saturday night!! It was way cool cause the whole family came out to support that night, and again during the sacrament service when she was confirmed. It has been a reallly LONG time since a lot of them have been to church, so that was a big deal. I really hope that Bruna will inspire them to keep coming back to church!!
the bishop introduced us to a family that they are friends with and we were able to go by with him and his daughter to teach them the first lesson.......... They seem super cool, and I hope that they accept our message and really read and pray about the book of mormon!!! I hope we didnt overwhelm them too much last week....... haha. LOTS of new information and Bishop was nervous and talking a LOT....... but hopefully they felt the spirit and we´ll see some progress with them! We get to meet with them again this wednesday.... I love when we get to teach FAMILIES, and it is hard to actually teach families because usually people are working and busy and other members of the family arent interested in our message.... So personally, I havent been able to teach a whole family yet....
We are also teaching a girl named Larissa who is SUPER cool! She is Guilherme´s sister (the awesome, super tall kid who got baptized back in july...) and is 12 but way mature, and tall  for her age as well. I would put her at at least 15.... She is always super excited about coming to church with us, activities, baptisms and everything!! She came to Gidelma´s baptism and Bruna´s as well. Just to see it and support!! Haha. It is crazy that she is more supportive than a lot of the MEMBERS that should have been at Bruna´s baptism but werent.... She is also super excited to go check out our "mini-branch" out in José Ometto and wants to go to the meetings there instead of in the chapel. haha. Right now, the house is too small for us to be able to invite her there... but as soon as we have a "real" location, she wants to go and check it out!! AH. Love it.
She also has a hard time understanding what she reads in the book of mormon, so we´ve been focusing more on reading with her and explaining it section by section. We´ve been going through the stories that explain each of the pictures in the front of the book of mormon and she loves it!! haha. When we get there she is like "okay, we left of here..." and then she just starts reading it with us!
I´m pretty sure she would have already been baptized, but since she is only 12, her mom wants her to spend some more time investigating the church before she committs to baptism. Hmph. She is way excited about getting baptized though! And we have some big hopes for her!!
Thursday, we had some exciting lessons! We found a young lady named Maire that lives alone with just her 3 year old son in this tiiiiny one room in the back of a house. We were teaching her and it just went SO WELL. She was super accepting and interested in our message about the restoration and willing to read and pray about the book of mormon..... And, since I´m practicing being brave and talking more (hahah) I invited her to be baptized when she recieves an answer about what we taught her.... and she said yes!!! We marked a day for Oct. 7th!! WOOOOO. It was SO EXCITING. Now we just need to find a way to help her get to church.... since she works everyday..... dang it. Praying for some MIRACLES.
That night we had a lesson with a lady that Sis. Pedersen and her comp. Sister Costa started teaching back in feb/march.... When we were teaching her, she expressed so much desire to find out more and really come to know if these things are true.... We invited her to be baptized as well and marked the 7th of october. She said she really wants to get baptized and for her son hugo to be baptized as well.... It is just tough to find him at home since he goes to school and works till 9 everyday... hmm. But she is really worried about him and the choices he is making in his life... she started crying as we were going to leave. I hope we can keep teaching her and try to help her with her worries!! And I hope she will actually come to church!!!!
Joáo paulo, an investigator that we have been teaching for a few months now, and doesnt believe in god..... is still reading the book of mormon every week! And THIS week, he took NOTES on what he read to share and discuss with us!! YEAH. He didnt believe in God at ALL when we started teaching him (pretty rare in brasil.....) but now he believes in something... hahah. It is an improvement!! And I am still amazed everyweek that he is really reading and praying everyday.
Remember Michael??? that we taught for forever and were trying to get baptized??? Yeah. Well, he still isnt getting baptized yet..... BUT he is WAY AWESOME, and still always coming to church, to institute and to our baptisms!!! And he always participates, makes comments and says prayers in our classes. Man. This kid is amazing. He is sooo ready!! and so getting baptized someday! I just hope it is someday soon! LIKE NOW!!! hahah.
Not gonna send any pictures this week for two reasons....
1) this computer is LAME and not loading anything!!! takes about five years for it to load each page!!!!aghhh
2) my camera is dying.... and all my pictures are either pink/red/purple or have funny lines through them. COOL. I´m gonna have to check into getting another camera I guess........ in brazil. Sweet.
Love you all!!!!
scripture for the weeek 2 Timothy 1:7 which my awesome companion pasted inside my new planner.....
"for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind"
thanks so much for all the love, emails and letters!!!
have the best week!!!
Sister Amanda Ward

A Tough Week (Sept. 3)

Well. Pday switched to monday, soooooooooooo its pday again!!! How are you all?!
This week was a tough one.....
for example. Last thursday night, we marked to work with a young member couple from the ward. SO GREAT. It is hard to actually be able to find members to work with and this couple is seriously awesome. I love them!!
We went out with them to the José Ometto (the area WAY far from everything where they are starting the little mini-branch). We had marked to teach a family that we´ve been working with, but when we got there, no one was home...... We then tried to pass by about 4 other families/investigators and either they werent home, were busy, or were just not interested...... In the end, we spent a good hour just driving around, finding these people and EVERYTHING fell through. It was super depressing. I HATE when that happens!! Especially when we have members with us to help out and everything. Ricardo and Carol were SUPER cool about it though and when we had nothing left to try they were just like "Sisters.... its okay. Lets just go out to eat!!!" hahah. So we did, and they were super nice and bought us food. Really though, they are super sweet and I love them!!
ANDDD..... about thursday..... We went to our lunch appointment and it was really good. Way good. Afterwards, we were just sitting there talking with the irmã giving us lunch.... She is a super cute, funny, little older lady and we were just having a fun time talking with her. After a while she gets up to go get the dessert.... And she says "let me go see if the jello has set up yet...."
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. ahhahaha. As she has her back turned to look in the fridge, Sis. Feistner and I exchanged looks... (mine of TERROR and hers.... trying not to laugh in my face... hahah).
Then... just to make it better, she gets it out and puts it on the table..... and this jello is purple. GREAT. So sister F. is like "ohhh what flavor is it?" and yes.... it is indeed grape jello. AGAIN.
And this irmã... bless her heart.... dishes us each up these HUGE cups of jello. Oh man. I thought I would die.... probably just from trying not to laugh.... Then she left the room for a bit to go take some to her son who came by from work to visit on his lunch break..... While she was gone, I frantically put as much of that horrible grape jello into Sis. Feistner´s already spilling-over-cause-it-is-so-ridiculously-full-cup as I could..... She just laughed and let me. hahah. It made for a good story that night when Ricardo and Carol took us out to eat though..... hahaha.
Random side-note.....week before last, we met a lady that is turning 100 years old in december!!! crazy!!
Then this week, we met an old lady who has a great-great grandchild. WOW. and she told us that her mom passed away at age 126!!!??? INSANE. I dont understand!!!!!!!!
And another side-note. Over the past few weeks, the political campaign in Araras has been getting up a storm..... I think it is just people running for city government, but I´m not sure.... BUT, basically every candidate has TONS of cars that drive around the city with pictures on the sides and the number to vote for them. But to make it even better, they put these HUGE speakers on the top of the cars and just drive around ALL DAY blasting obnoxious little jingles to convince you to vote for the candidate. I AM ABOUT TO GO CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Worst thing is, apparently this will go on for another two months. TWO MORE MONTHS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. People also use this technique for more normal, all-year long type things.... like selling gas tanks for your stoves.... The people that sell the gas tanks use a jingle with just the beginning part of "fur elise".... oh gosh. It makes me insane. OR, in one of the neighborhoods there is a car that comes around selling eggs. Yep. Eggs. Out of the back of a van. It is great fun when we are knocking doors and one of those cars just starts going up and down the streets.... for HOURS.
Friday................. almost all our appointments fell through again. SWEET. hahah. was super hot, we went out to work, taught a lesson and then I randomly got sick and almost blacked out when we stood up I hope this isnt a regularly thing when it is hot outside...... Cause it hasnt done much in the way of HOT yet..... Anyways.... point being... we didnt get to do much on Saturday because of that.
saturday was also a little tough because it was a moment of realization for me...... about how much I need to work and improve on actually talking to people and not being scared!! hahah. OH gosh. We had a lesson that night and I was too scared to say anything..... I wanted to smack myself in the face afterwards. BUT, on the bright side, I have realized what it is I need to work on now, and now I just have to DO IT.
Sunday, was the best day of the entire week!!!
Sister Feistner and I have to do divisions each sunday at church. One of us stays at the chapel for the church services there, and the other goes out to José Ometto to be at the sacrament meeting that is starting out there.... Yesterday, it was my turn to go out to José Ometto. It was super cool!!! It was only the 3rd sunday that they have held a meeting out there. The group is basically just one family of members that have been pretty less-active for the past couple years. They dont have much money and cant afford the bus to come in for church at the chapel each week. This week, we had a couple other members that live nearby as investigators showed up, but I´m hoping for next week!!
The first week, there were six people, the next week 9 and this week 13!!! SO great!! ALSO, this family is the family of Luisa who got baptized back in June.... It is so great to see that she will be able to go to church and have that support in her family now! We also had a lesson with her a week or two ago and she wanted us to mark our favorite stories in the book of mormon for her to read... She already read one and is starting on the other and so excited about it! so cute! I got to ask her how that was going on sunday and she was soooooo excited to tell me that she had read!
Oh, and I dont know if I´ve said this before.....but in general, brazilians have a lack of musical abilities..... it is especially apparent when singing hymns.... I think it probably comes from a lack of learning about music, cause they dont teach music in the schools here.... But anyways, I took the violin out to the meeting there and played the hymns with them. It helped A LOT. As in, there was a MELODY to be found in the midst of all the other stuff going on.... hahaha. And Luisa´s cousin Gabriel (he is probably 4 or 5?) LOVESSSS music and loves the violin.... he also is TERRIFIED of me and sister feistner.... hahaha. Not sure why. But he will shake everyone else´s hand but wont even LOOK at us..... hahah. So I tried to win him over with the violin.... Didnt quite work.... he was still to scared to touch it when I handed it to HIS MOM to let him play a little bit..... But I caught him watching me while I was playing the hymns. So we may be getting somewhere. =]
the peacocks down by the lake on our morning walk to church. They were out in STYLE yesterday!

Grupo de Oracão in José Ometto!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Luisa has a book of mormon on her lap, Gabriel is the kid in the green shirt. I will win him over someday!!!! hahah.
ALSO, we did a lot of knocking doors and lessons on Sunday and I was DETERMINED to turn over a new page and talk to EVERYONE. So I did. And it was wonderful, super fun and way less scary than being too scared to say anything at our lessons.hahah ALSO, I shared the message at our lunch appointment and they had a TON of family and friends over to visit.... I didnt think they were gonna all listen to the message, but they all saw my violin and wanted me to play something. So I did. and afterwards, everyone was listening so intently that I just had to share a message with them all. hahah. It was great.
OH..... Some exciting news!!
We have a girl that we have been teaching over the last month or so..... Her name is Bruna and she is 11 and SUPER shy. As in, she wont hardly even talk to us! haha. Her family is less active, but they just recently started coming back to church and want to keep coming back. Bruna wasnt ever baptized and she really wants to! She apparently got scared by the elders a few years ago because they tried to convince her to get baptized before she was ready.... As in, they had the district leader come in and do an interveiw with her (without warning them ahead of time!) and he tried to mark her baptism for the next day..... And since she is WAY shy, she freaked out. So we´ve been trying to take it slow with her, and let her run the show.... but she decided to get baptized this saturday the 8th!! Wooooo!!! So hopefully everything continues to go well with her this week!!! =]
Last story......
So, we have a little bit of a pigeon problem on our back porch............ they sit up in the roof part over the porch and poop all over the floor out there by our washing machine.. It is sick!! So last week, I got mad and cleaned the entire thing!! It was SO GROSS. I was even yelling at these pigeons in english the entire time..... hahaha. Hopefully our neighbors dont think we are too crazy now.....
But this morning, we had the back door open for a bit while we were studying.... and we heard a racket coming from the porch. So sister Feistner went out to investigate..... There was a pigeon in our little mini-bbq thing..... but as she was trying to get it out, he got out and came IN OUR HOUSE!!! she starts to come back in and she´s like "sister ward, I figured out the problem..." and when I turn around there is a PIGEON  walking towards me, in between me and her!!! hahaha. The pigeon freaked out a little bit and started FLYING at me, and then I freaked out a little bit too. ahahah. Then he landed on our desks and started walking ALL OVER MY BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh gosh.. hahah. So sister F. chased him back outside, caught him and threw him off our porch. HA. take that evil pigeons!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyways, enough stories for one email......
Love you all so much!!!
have the best week!!!!!!!!!!
Sister Ward

And It's Another Transfer!! (Aug. 29)

Hey everyone!
First things first, Sister Feistner and I are staying in Araras for another transfer!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
It has been a good week!!! It is starting to get really hot now, and I´m getting a little nervous for what it will be like in december, january, february.... yikes. Besides being pretty hot, it didnt rain AT ALL last transfer... Not once!!! Then we got about 15 minutes of rain yesterday.... but that is it! In the last six weeks!! crazy. 
One thing that I am really excited about from this past transfer...... Somehow, its like a somebody switched a magic light switch and people can understand me now!!! And I can understand them too, for the most part! It´s amazing!! haha. Not perfect yet, but it is awesome how much better my portuguese is than just a couple months ago.... Now I just need to get over being scared to talk to people and we´ll be great!! haha. So there´s my goal for this next transfer!! ha.
But. While we are on the subject of portuguese.... Dont get too excited, cause my portuguese might not be all that grand yet.....
There is a few young women in the ward that LOVE to leave and knock doors with us. They try to spend an afternoon with us about every week. They LOVE it!!! haha. it is great. But another of their favorite things is how I speak portuguese..... haha. Apparently, I talk like a 2 year old, because that is about the same reaction.... Except, I think they wouldnt laugh as much at a two year old, cause its a given fact that you cant really talk well at 2 years old....
There are a few things I have said that they love to bring up..... For example. When we were getting a ride home at the end of the day, we were talking about how tired we were. (this is a usual subject for me..... especially when I fall asleep at member´s homes.... haha) So I was trying to say how I wanted to sleep for forever on the couch.... What came out was basically correct, only missing some important pronounciation details. I said "eu quero dormir para sempre na sófa" When it really should have been "no sofá" CAN YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE????? Yep. its pretty small. But they love to bring that one up. On a daily basis. To the point that I am fairly unsure about how it is really supposed to be pronounced... is the accent at the beginning or the end??? AHHHHHHHHHH.
Their latest favorite is laughing about the way I pronounce the letter p in the word pia(sink). Yep. Or the way I pronounce my Rs (like a retarded american..... Remember how I cant do that rolling your R´s thing??? still making my life miserable as much as it did in spanish class.... )
Anyways. They get a lot of laughs out of my efforts. But I get a lot of very picky help as well. I spent about half an hour a couple weeks ago just trying to pronounce the word "pão" (bread) ITs a tough one. Believe me. And it is completely different from the word "pau" (wood/stick??) although it sounds exactly the same when I try to say it.  
But, moving on. Remember the lady who owns a bakery??? And they give us free food everyday??? We finally got to teach Izabel again this past week. And she is so amazing!!!!!! Holy cow! If only she wasnt so crazy busy!!! She is so prepared, reading the book of mormon over skype with her fiancee EVERY DAY. Wow. Turns out, she is heading to the states for a couple weeks tomorrow. She always is asking us to call her or come by if we ever need ANYTHING. And if our lunch ever falls through, she tells us to come by the bakery and she´ll give us a pizza or something instead. Yeah. She is like our cute little brazilian mom. hahah.
About Sonia.... If you all dont remember, Sonia got baptized back in June, but lately she´s been having a hard time coming to church regularly. She´s been pretty sad about Sister Pedersen leaving, and she also has some health issues and problems with depression and stuff. And she´s been having a tough time here recently. Last week, we went by to see how she was doing because she hadnt been to church that sunday. Turns out, she hadnt been to church cause she REALLY couldnt leave the house..... She got ran over by a moped!!! What??! She broke her tail bone and shattered her leg. So she is in a cast from her knee to her toes. Ahhh. She is always super antsy and doesnt like to just sit and do nothing, so she is limping around the house with walker. Oh my gosh. As she was telling us about what happened she was describing to us how badly she is bruised from her butt all the way down her leg.... Just purple. And then she was like "oh, why dont I just show you??" So she stands right in front of us with her back to us and just pulls up her dress!!!! WHAT??! hahaha. What is with brazilians and the lack of personal space??? ahaha.She apparently thought we wanted to know how purple and bruised her butt was..... And she did it again the next time we came over... just to make sure we knew that the bruising was improving. hahaha.
We had a family night with this awesome family in our ward this week. Fatima and João´s family.... They are the aunt and uncle of Felipe--- my first baptism. We have family nights with them fairly often, and I just love this family!!! They are so great!! Cutest thing--- when we were looking for a hymn to sing, we found Sister Pedersen´s favorite hymn marked in Fatima´s hymnbook.... (seems like it is a pretty common thing for members to have hymnbooks in their homes, and they like to mark in them. Or color over the top of your name tag to leave the imprint of your name on the page. haha. its cute). But when we found it marked, Felipe whipped out his little mini-hymn book and was like "sister ward, I have your favorite hymn marked in my hymnbook!!" haha. I dont think I actually ever told him my favorite hymn.... but one day that we went by his house to teach him, he picked out a hymn for us to sing and I told him that I like that hymn ( I think it is how great the wisdom and the love in english....). So he marked it in his hymnbook! but he marked it as "sister WA" cause he couldnt remember how to spell my name. AHhaha. So cute.
Last night, they invited us over again to have a churrasco with them!!! OHHHHHHHHH yes. So good! Really. I just love this family. One of their sons is home visiting from Italy (he is working there right now...) and he was like "mom, we have to call the sisters and invite them!" haha. So they did. In reality, Fatima called us about every two hours all day long to make sure we were coming.... ahah. Super sweet.
Irmão João and Irmã Fatima when we had CHURRASCO last night!!! SOOOOO GOOD!
João and Fatima again...... hahaha. Fatima loves to bomb the pictures.....

Sister Feistner and I at our family night/churrasco....

One of João and Fatima´s sons--- Carlos, that is visiting from Italy
One last story...... This is actually from a couple weeks ago, but it was soooooo hilarious.
We went by an investigator´s house sunday night a couple weeks ago. He works and lives in São Paulo during the week and is only home at his mom´s house here right behind the chapel on the weekends. When we came by Sunday evening, he had already left for São Paulo because he had to leave early for some reason. But, his mom LOVES to feed us and had been promising us cake.... ahah. She is a super cute old lady that is slightly crazy and very very catholic. She has a little catholic saint (the saint of the kitchen) in her kitchen and she gives him a little cup of coffee every day. AND believes that he drinks it!!! oh man. But, she invited us in to come eat the cake she made for us. (just for  us, mind you..... she swears that she wont eat it....) So we came in and she dished us up some huge peices. Then, she was trying to get us to take seconds... and Sister Feistner was talking about how much she LOVES sweet stuff, but that she really couldnt eat anymore... And they are kind of talking back and forth for a bit and then this little old lady is like "Come mais formigão!!!!!!!!!" (which translates to====  eat more you big ant!) hahah.  and then she put another peice on Sister Feistner´s plate and walked out of the kitchen for a bit.... It took me a couple seconds to figure out what she had said, and then I look at Sister Feistner and was like "eat more you big ant???" We both busted up laughing..... ahahah. Ohhhhh portuguese. When the lady came back in, I had a straight face, but Sister Feistner had just lost it..... She couldnt stop laughing for the rest of the night. I think that this lady was honestly a little peeved at her for laughing (cause she thought that sister Feistner was laughing at me, and I completely encoouraged this idea.... and Sister F. had no way to defend herself... haha). But, in short.... this phrase has become or daily/hourly/minutely/every-time-we-just-need-to-laugh phrase.... and it works every time. =]
Wellllll. I gotta go.... But I hope you all have the best week!!!
To anyone who cares, my pday is switching to MONDAY next week, so if you feel inclined to write me lovely email, remember that you should do it before MONDAY!!! =]
love you all so much!!!
Sister Ward
Some Pictures...
This is how my companion kills spiders in our apartment.

GIGANTIC turtle that some members have as a pet.... It weighs a good 30 pounds!! They say this type of turtle lives to about 100 years old and keeps growing that whole time.... this ones about 25-30 years old.

It likes to eat rice. like a true brazilian.

One of the lovely little lakes here in Araras......  People come to this one to go fishing.
teaching fiddle at a lunch appointment...... hahah

our sunday lunch appointment..... we got to their house right after church to find this waiting for us.... They only got it all set up before church. No big deal.

With Vitoria and Natalia

Hey There Happy Family (And Friends)!!! (Aug. 22)

So much happiness EXPLODING from my emails this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =]
I may have used up most of my computer time today just soaking up all this happiness..... but I guess it is time for a little bit about my week.
Well. This week was an ADVENTURE.
Last wednesday, we went into Campinas so that Sister Feistner could go to the hospital because of her fairly infected ingrown toenail. FUN RIGHT????!
Sadly, the doctor there wouldnt even TOUCH her toe, and just told us to stay at home for a few days and made her buy a huge amount of medicines and antiobiotics to take. ALSO FUN.
So, we spent a few days doing NOTHING in our house..... Since we were both completely healthy otherwise, we got a little bored and CRAZY from being cooped up! We slept, read scriptures, wrote in our journals, told stories, watched the restoration film in about 6 different languages.... and colored pictures (mom and dad--- you were right, the colored pencils and coloring books did come in handy.... ahah).
Saturday, we were sick of being inside, so Sister Feistner called Sister Perrotti (our new mission president´s wife who is in charge of our medical needs...) and talked with her. She had us go to ANOTHER hospital, but here in Araras. Our bishop was super awesome and came and drove us around all day. We went to the hospital, waited forever and they did the same thing. Wouldnt even touch her foot and told us to go to a foot-specialist. So we ended up going to a little pedicure place (where bishop´s wife gets here nails done... hahaha) and the lady there apparently has had experience with ingrown toenails before... So we set up an appointment, then went back home and waited, and then finally went to have it done. Sister Feistner was a little worried, because we have heard some horror stories about how bad it was gonna hurt.... Turns out it took her about 5 minutes, she just cut out the side part of her toenail and part that was ingrown and Sis. F said it didnt even hurt! Miracles.
So, in conclusion. We went all over the place, bought a ton of medicine, and stayed in our house for FOREVER, all over a toe that took 5 minutes and 5 reais to take care of. Sweet.
Unfortunately, our time at home wasnt over there..... Monday, when we went out to work, Sister Feistner wasnt feeling too well, ended up getting fairly sick at a members home and we just had to head back home... YAY. we love sitting at home!!!
As of yesterday and today, she is feeling a lot better, so here goes for a better week ahead!!!
So, from this week I came to realize how much I appreciate being able to leave our house and teach!!!!!!!!!! Getting to teach sunday and yesterday was WONDERFUL. We found some wonderful people and had some way good lessons!
As of this past sunday, our ward here in Araras opened up a "prayer group" (smaller than a branch and still functions as part of the ward... ) out in an area that is SUPER far from the chapel. They get to have Sacrament meeting and sunday school every sunday and it is starting in a member family´s home. I am way excited about it! It means that a lot of less active members that live in this area but stopped coming to church because they dont have money for the bus, will now have the opportuinity to come to church and take the sacrament. It ALSO means, that we have our work cut out for us in this area that I have only ever been to about 3 times... haha. So we are getting pumped to start passing by the less active members and finding new people to teach out in Jose Ometto!!!
I think it is really cool because there is so much potential for growth here! This group is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a ward someday.... We have already found a few families that are really interested in the gospel that now have the opportunity to actually go and visit the church. Before, we almost never went to this area because it was almost pointless to even try inviting anyone to church.... But now they can go!! So cool!!
Also. To all that are interested, my portuguese is GETTING BETTER!!!!! woooooo!  Still not where I´d like to be yet, but I´m understanding and people are understanding me soooooo much better lately. It is amazing. The amount of progress in this past transfer is just crazy. Hopefully this super high paced learning keeps going.... ahaha. I love it.
And some pictures:
happy pday last week with Sister Pedersen and some of the other sisters in Campinas!!!! (after we went by the doctor and she was absolutely no help to us..... )

gorgeous day walking out on this road between houses and the middle of nowhere..... (one of the days we got to actually LEAVE our house!)

told you we colored pictures..... haha. Story behind this one.... Sister Feistner becomes a little CRAZY after about 1 1/2 glasses of coca-cola..... Yep. We get home at night and, big surprise, she wont be able to sleep. (or me either.... hahah). Its a little challenging because brazilians apparently dont believe in water, and almost always offer us soda at lunches---usually coke. Sometimes we get lucky with juice.... But I have to monitor her coke intake from here on out....
Well. I hope you all have a WONDERFUL week!!!!
dont forget, my pday is changing to mondays on Sept. 3rd!!! So next week is the last wednesday pday!!
Love you all!!!
Sister Ward

Chicken Feet, Brazil, and the Gospel (Aug. 15)

Hey everyone!!!!
It is SUCH a good day today!!!!!!!!!! =]
First things first.....
Thanks so much everyone for all the emails and pictures this week!!!! soo good to hear from you all!!!
so some fun stuff and pictures from the week......
 We did indeed learn how to cook and eat chicken feet.............. I dont want to offend anybody....  but... I really, REALLY did not enjoy eating chicken feet. To describe the experience = it was like eating glue. Yep. Great fun. But we went all out and lived this experience and each ate 5 chicken feet when all was said and done. Some pictures....

me and sister feistner going at it!! hahah
plate full of chicken feet!!!!

what happened to that plate full of feet. hahaha.
Alright. So we had a baptism last week!!!!
Gidelma was baptized on saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wooo! It was so perfect and cute. She didnt tell her fiancee that she was getting baptized until we were all sitting waiting for the meeting to start and the member running the meeting came and sat by them to ask what her full name was..... The look on his face was priceless. haha. He was like, "wait... you are getting baptized?!!!" hahah. They were both so excited and adorable after that. ah. The meeting and her baptism were perfect and Gidelma was sooooo happy!!!
Gidelma and her fiancee Justiniano!

Parrots that Gidelma´s family has!
 Anyways, it has been such a good week!!!
Today we are going to play a little bit with the other sisters here in Campinas, so I´ve got to go!!!
love you all so much!!!
have a good week!!!
Sister Ward
some more fun wildlife in Araras!!!!