Monday, February 25, 2013

The Lost and Forgotten

Jequié is quite the adventure, let me tell ya!  
   Here, there is no rhyme or reason to the numbers on the houses, so when we have only the address of a person to go off of, it's basically the same as having nothing. At first I found this frustrating, but it's actually turned out to be great for meeting new people! All we do is wander around the streets, asking people if they know who "Maria da Carma" is and where she lives and before we know it we've got 5 new investigators! The people here are extremely friendly. Even more so than the people in Mussurunga! They all are eager to help you find whatever you're looking for and will drop whatever they're doing to lead you to your destination if they know where it is. We've even had a guy jump in his car and chase us down to let us know that we'd walked right past the house he'd directed us to. He knew because he'd been watching us from the top of the hill to make sure we didn't make any wrong turns. 
   Yesterday as we were walking down the street, a young woman yelled from her porch in very enthusiastic broken English, "Hi! I love you!" And then she insisted that we come meet all her relatives and eat churrasco (Brasilian BBQ) with them. How could we refuse? Needless to say, we have a lot of new friends on that street. 
   Highlights of the week:
   - A man who looked like an Abercrombie model tried to kiss me (don't worry, I gave the standard awkward missionary cower and apologetic squeal of protest)
   - A super evangelic woman drove us from house to house, with her arms gesticulating in a gospel passion, to heal the sick of the neighborhood (don't worry, we explained to her that we don't have the priesthood, which has been restored in these latter days through a living prophet, but that we can always pray and be healed according to our faith. We have a very promising new investigator from that experience).
This area is SUPER "crente" (evangelical). Everyone's always trying to tell us that we're prophets (despite our constant protests that missionaries are not prophets) and saying "Walk with God, my daughter! Amen!"  They believe that everyone's a prophet and whatever you want to believe is true. They all "love to hear the word of God" and will eagerly invite you into their home with hallelujahs, anticipating a wild spiritual adventure of yelling at devils to leave and Jesus to save and peace and love and praise be! Then they're confused by the calmness of our message (sometimes disappointed) and aren't sure what to think of us. 

    Because of the confusion of house addresses (you always have to go by landmarks here, not addresses), we spend a lot of time getting lost and I'm coming to appreciate the beauty of what it means to lose yourself, or forget yourself, in the work. Here I've come to see that to forget myself means to forget that I don't speak Português well and just start talking. It means to forget what I like or don't like and try things out. When I'm really focused on the work and the people here, every once in a while I'll realize I'm eating something atrocious and something will say, "Hey, you don't like that!" And I'll think, "Oh, I forgot. But you know... now that I'm eating it, it's not so bad..." Or sometimes I'll be chatting away with someone as easily as walking and then I'll realize, "Hey, you don't speak Português!"  "I don't? Huh, I forgot." And then I keep speaking.
   It truly is in losing yourself that you find yourself. It's scary at first, to let go of who you think you are and always have been, but once you do, you start to find new things about you that you never knew you had. Then it's just downright exciting!

   A challenge for you all: This week, go out and do something that you think you don't like. It'll be so fun!

  I love, love, LOVE this work and this Gospel! I know it's true with all my heart and I'm seeing miracles every single day here.

-Sister Whitaker

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