Monday, July 15, 2013

I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!

This week I woke up to this simple truth: I am absolutely in love with my mission. 
   I'm in love with these people. During the week, I wanted to just take every single person by the shoulders, shake them and yell, "I LOVE YOU!!!!"  Instead I had to settle for fake-punches and fake face-slaps every now and then with appropriate sound effects. Strangely, I think this love language translates here in the feild better than it did in the CTM.
    This week started out super slow and by Thursday our numbers were so bad that I passed the point of tears and into the zone of hysterical laughter. The District and Zone Leaders had no words of advice or of comfort to give us. Then Sister Mártir and I said, "That DOES it! Let's just through tact out the window and go crazy. We've got nothing to lose." So that's what we did. We just ran around asking everyone to get baptised and then found ourselves on Friday night with good numbers and a group of super awesome investigators, 6 of whome we are preparing for baptism next week! Sweet! After two weeks of praying and working really hard with little to show for it, the Lord really blessed us this past weekend. Pray for this 6 people! Especially Paulo and José. Paulo is the grandson of two members who have been praying for him for several years to take an interest in the church and José is the father of another member who has also been praying for him for several years. Pray that they will finally be pricked in their hearts and go for it.
     I love the mission! I had one of those moments yesterday where my companion wanted to hear my life story and I got to reflect on all the events that led to my being here in Bahia doing what I'm doing. Wow, the Lord really loves me. This is the coolest thing EVER that I get to be a part of! Thank you once again to all of you friends and family who helped me to be here. I'm so grateful for all that I'm learning. I hope I'm becoming a better person than I was before, too. 
      BIRTHDAY SHOUTOUT!  Happy Birthday Rebecca Hasler and Rachel Whitaker! I wish you all the good things of life with much chocolate thrown in :D

     Guess what?  A Igraja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Últimos Dias é verdadeira!

     I KNOW that Jesus Christ lives and that He LOVES us. I know this because I have felt Him by my side and He has spoken through me to people He knows and loves better than I do. This past week I was talking to a recent convert who had slipped up and made some mistakes. He felt like he was unworthy to go to church and he wept and wept and begged us to leave him alone in his misery.  I felt an overwhelming flood of love for this man and the Spirit truly took over and spoke through me. I was able to be the mouthpiece that told him it's never too late and that no one is ever unworthy of repentance. I was able to testify of the love that the Savior has for him. When he shook his head and said he didn't believe it, I said, "Why do you think we're here?! He sent us to you because He loves you!"  It was one of the most powerful testimonies I've had the priviledge of bearing on the mission.  And I know it's true for every single person. The Savior loves us all so much that He paid the price for ALL of our sins, pains, and weaknesses, even knowing that many would reject His offering.  
   Please accept His offerring. You'll be so happy! :)

I love you all!

-Sister Whitaker


I hope that everyone watched that amazing missionary training broadcast last week-- it was SO GOOD! It was especially fun for we missionaries here in Itapuã, because we got to watch it in English as a zone. It was so strange to be shut up in a little room with a bunch of Americans, all speaking English shamelessly. I felt like I was sinning, and I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure there were no offended Brazilians around.
   All of the pent-up English wit that the Elders had been holding back for the past month/two years burst forth in awkward spurts of obnoxious gaiety. I felt like I was back at BYU. Especially when Elder Holland announced that Seth Bott would be the organist. In my excitement, I cried out in a strained, Brasilian-accented attempt at English, "Seth Bott!!! He -ees -my -friend!"
    I'm not forgetting English, I swear! It's just confusing to speak it here for some reason.... Yesterday, for example, I watched a video of the first missionaries in Cabo Verde and there were church leaders speaking in English with Português subtitles. For the first time ever, I realized that I was understanding both so perfectly that I couldn't even tell what was Português and what was English. Cool! I'm bilingual, Ma!

This past week was a bit of a doozy, but that's ok, because this next week is going to be AWESOME! We're going to work so hard and be happy and just love everything and everyone.  
   This new transfer, I'm going to be staying here with Sister Mártir to complete her training. We're excited. Today has been so much fun because-- guess why?  I'll tell you why.  It's because my Zone was the zone of excellence this past month! Every single dupla baptised and we exceeded our baptism goal for the month by 8 (I think?). That's never happened before as long as President Andrezzo has been president of this mission! He was so excited that he took us all out to a Churrascaria (BBQ House) and treated us to lunch. We also got to play games and stuff in the church. Spot It is always a major hit with Brazilians. They love it! Several of the Elders begged me to ask mom to send a tin of Spot It cards to them. Thanks for making me the popular kid, Mama :)
   After emailing, Sister Mártir and I are going to the dunes with Elder Leite and Elder Ray. That's funny to me only because Elder Leite doesn't usually want to do anything social, but he suggested the idea and since it was his first time suggesting such a thing, no one wanted to say no. Though we are all thinking the same thing:  "What are we going to do on a big mountain of sand?" But we're gonna go nonetheless and see what happens! I laugh in my head every time I imagine it. Elder Ray laughs when he can tell that I'm laughing in my head.

    Well, that's all for now, folks. I'll be sure to have more interesting stories next week. Love y'all!

-Sister Weezer

Missionary Moments

Sometimes while we're walking in the hot sun through the streets of Brasil, I catch a glimps of our shadows-- the wind blowing our skirts, our waist-strapped packs fully loaded with umbrella and water bottle (that look like serious amo in shaddow form), a Bookof Mormon in our hands, and I think,"We're so cool it hurts."   Then I trip on the cobblestones and the Brasilian kids pause their game of futebol to point and laugh at me.
Sometimes I see people who I haven't seen since my first area in the mission and we hug and smile and as we talk I think, "Oh yeah, my Português is SO much better now!"   Then the person steps back and says, "Wow, I just can't believe it. You were so much prettier before. What happened to you?"

Sometimes as I'm navigating my new greenie companion through the favelas, walking the quick and purposful pace of a missionary, I explain to my companion where we're going and what we're going to do there so she'll be well-informed and not feel too lost.   Then my companion says, "We're going to meet with who?? Sister Whitaker, she doesn't live over here, she lives on the other side of the city. Remember?" 

Sometimes, you learn to be humble, whether you want to or not.

   As I write this email, I am sitting in the safety of a member's home  (a member who lives in the same complex right across the hall from us) because all the internet cafés are closed. That can only mean one thing in Bahia: it's a holiday.
   Actually, the holiday was yesterday, but Bahianos like to drag things out for as long as possible. It's been a war zone here for the past week with all the fireworks. Elder Ray said he feels like he's in a WWII video game, and when Elder Leite (District Leader) calls at night, it really sounds like that, too as he yells over the sound of exploding bombs.  As nothing is illegal here in Brasil,just imagine the havoc that is reeked when 6-year-old boys are buying fireworks and lighting them in the streets 24-7.  The firework favorite of children here is a dreadful thing that does nothing but make an ear-splitting, heart-stopping pop that sounds like a gunshot right next to your ear. These the kids like to throw in our path as we're walking because they scare the wits out of my companion. They aslo burn holes in cats and dogs. Worry. It's more dangerous than it sounds.
   This holiday is called São João. I don't know what fireworks have to do with the death of John the Baptists, but Brasilians LOVE them.
    Last night as we dodged through a bomb war (yes, kids really through fireworks at each other, and their parents let them), I kept hearing the voice of Rhett Butler in my head "Has the war started?" and "The rebels aren't wasting any time!" Sister Mártit kept screaming and throwing her arms over her head crying,"Sheeshter! Sheeshter!"  (that's 'Sister' with a Cabo Verdian accent).
    Now're about to do it again, this time with a cake in our hands, to get to our Family Night appointment with our recent convert, Irla, and her family.  Pray for us!

   I love you all and I am LOVING the mission! 

-Sister Weezer