Monday, August 19, 2013

Daddy Legends

 Good news, everyone: I can finally tell stories in Português and people understand them! :D  This was discovered this past week when I briefly told the story of dad getting knifed on his mission to Sister Mártir and Leonardo (our member friend who helps us teach a lot) and they were so impressed that a few nights later they brought it up again and begged me to tell it to a group of shirtless boys on the street.
    "Hey, tell that story about your dad!" Leonardo begged. And then, before I could say anything, he animatedly began to tell the story himself. "Her dad got KNIFED on his mission!"  
     Once the story had been told, the group of young men, laughing and gasping and impressed and excited, called out to other boys on the street to come hear the story. It became more and more elaborate with every telling.
     "Yeah, and her dad is this huge guy. I mean, he's a serious wrestler, I'm telling you! So he figures he's just gonna take out the scrawny runt who stole his watch." They really like the part about dad tackling the first guy (and more fist punches and martial arts moves were added in with each telling) and the hand-off of the watch to a second robber. I bid the crowd a good night before things escalated to "it was a car full of masked ninjas that drove up with samurai swords!"
      Happy Father's Day, daddy! You're officially famous here on the streets of Agua Suja. ;)
      It was father's day yesterday, right? It was here in Brasil, anyway.

   This past week was really great! We've been teaching a super golden investigator named Kiara. She's 23 years old and lives alone with her 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. We found her while knocking doors and she looked at us like angels sent from God. She said she'd undergone surgery earlier that week and had promised the Lord that she would start going to church. Then she asked for help to know which one she should join. Bing! That's when we appeared on her doorstep. She has so many questions and is so hungry to learn anything and everything about the restored gospel. She and her kids LOVED church and all last week her kids were asking her when they were going to go back. One of the most beautiful moments o my mission thus far was the day that Kiara understood what repentance really means. We'd talked about it before and she'd been confused. She didn't understand how it was possible NOT to repent. Because in Português, the word "arrependimento" is also used for "regret". She said she always regrets it when she does something wrong, so she's always following Christ, right?  We explained to her that when you truly repent, you feel so much remorse for your sins that you will truly never want to do the same wrong thing again. The sin of which you've repented will become loathsome even to think about.  
     The next day, we were really rushing to get to all of our appointments, and she wasn't home when we had time to pass by her house, so we left a little sticky note with a message and a scripture on it for her. The scripture was Alma 7:11-13, about how Christ took upon Him all of our weaknesses and infirmities so that He would know best how to succor us.  The next day when we passed by her house, she told us that she'd received an answer to her doubts, and that Jesus Christ had communicated to her through the Spirit. "It was exactly as you said it would be," she said. Then she pulled out the scripture that we'd left on the sticky note and as she read it out loud  to us, she cried and cried and hid her face with her hands. "When I read this," she said, "the Lord showed me my future-- how my life would be if I continue committing the same sins I'm committing. I saw would would happen to my children." And then she cried and cried. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life Never have I beheld one so truly repentant. 
   Kiara is truly changing her life to be in harmony with the gospel. 

I love being a missionary so much!!!!

-Sister Whitaker

Random Titles

I know what you're thinking:  "What did last week's email have anything to do with the 90's?"

   Le' me 'splain. ... No, there iss too mush, let me sum up.  So I had this plan to explain how the dream of the 90's is alive in Bahia, but then in the whirlwind of hurry-and-write-before-your-time-runs-out-ness, I forgot. Suffice it to say, the pulling-up of short shorts and the shirts that barely touch the waistline of said shorts, the shoes, the hair, the makeup, and the way of life here in Bahia all would do the 90's proud. It sure gives Portlandia some worthy competition, if nothing else.
    On that note.... We had another baptism last week! Woo hoo!  He's a rediculously sweet boy of 14 years named Italo who had already made several visits to the church and to seminary with his member friend and who (aparently) several companionships of Sisters before us had tried to teach with no luck. But the time was just right for him this past week and he very peacefully and happilly accepted to be baptised. We'd actually been working with him the week before, too, and he'd wanted to get baptised that Saturday, but ended up having to go out of town over the weekend. His parents were very supportive of his decision and we're determined to work more with them and with Italo's sister, Yasmin. They are a beautiful family, and they are neighbors with TWO member families! :D  It was a really beautiful baptism and Italo melts my heart. 

    I've become the ward pianist. I've been so since Sister Santana left. It's pretty easy for me, considering that the piano here in Itapuã plays itself. The only reason I've been chosen to man it is because it only speaks English. :P  
    Before the Zone Conference last week, Elder Leite asked me if I could play the piano and I, thinking that he already knew about the self-playing trick, said "sure". Then, the night before the conference, he called again to ask if I could play two of the most complicated hymns in existance (which also happen to not be part of the self-playing piano's reporteour [spl?]) and as I insisted that it was impossible, he kept saying, "No, we have faith in you, Sister. You play very well!"
   That's when I realized. He thought I was actually PLAYING the piano!  He about died when I broke the news to him. The two complex hymns were already on the program and President Masagarde was going to come and we would have no piano accompaniamento. Thankfully, Elder André is a concert violinist and everything turned out ok in the end.
   But I'm finding that there's no end to the mistief that the self-playing piano is getting me into. Now I've been roped into helping with choir practice and everyone wants me to do all these fancy things, even though they KNOW that I'm not actually playing the piano. It really makes me wonder why I didn't practice more before the mission.

Well, I love you all! Thank you SO much for all the letters and emails and prayers! I promise I'm doing my best to write you all back!

-Sister Weezer

The Dream of the 90's

Bom dia, família e amigos! Como vai?!

This past week was pretty good! We worked our tails  off and were just all-around happy to be here. It occurred to me just how much I love my companion several times and that made the work even better. The Lord really knew what He was doing when He said, "go forth and preach the gospel two by two". At least, He said something like that.
     Speaking of putting words in the Lord's mouth, Bahianos really like to do it. Many of their favorite scriptures are nowhere to be found in the scriptures, such as, "the church is us." They like to use this to say that every individual person is the church of Christ and that attending an actual church is an idea of men. What I enjoy even more, though, is the little figurines of an open Bible with some cliché, anonymous quote in it that is made to look like a scripture so that people actually believe that it IS located somewhere in the scriptures. Last Saturday I was in the home of a member who had one of these and the son asked me if I knew where he could find the scripture that was written on the little fake Bible. I recognized it as a part of the "Footprints in the Sand" poem and had to break the sad news to him that it wasn't actually a scripture. He was heartbroken.
    Last Saturday was our Zone Conference and it was AWESOME! We had a counselor (?) of the Brasil Area Presidency there to speak to us and the spirit was so strong it felt like we were swimming in it. I didn't know that Area Presidencies are General Authorities before. Boy did I feel silly when I sat across the table from him during lunch and had the nerve to ask him. He was kindly patient with my lack of inteligence and helped me to understand that I was pretty much talking to an apostle. Then he asked me if I'd ever eaten at Chuck-o-Roma when I was in Utah and we all laughed and it was a grand ol' time.  After the conference was over, the chapel felt like the temple and everyone spoke in whispers, if they spoke at all. It was a wonderful spiritual boost!

    Highlights of the week:
    Yesterday we were in the home of a recent convert of the Elders who recently had a knee surgery and is unable to leave her house. So the Elders brought the sacrament to her and Sister Mártir and I taught a mini lesson. She was sitting in a rocking chair by her bedroom window, her leg propped up and a blanket across her lap. Elder Ray swatted at a mosquito with his tie and than Idassy (the RC) pulls out this huge can of heavy-duty bug spray that had been hidden at her side the whole time and sprays the tiny insect with enough poison to kill an elephant. "I always keep this by my side" she said smugly as she tucked the can away and rocked in her chair. I almost died from laughing so hard, seeing that sweet old lady with her hidden amo. I was seriously crying from laughing, and every time I thought about it I broke down into peals of laughter again. 
     On the same day, the daughter of Idassy gave Sister Mártir a dress in a bag. Sister Mártir wanted to wait until she got home to open it, but everyone insisted that she open it right then and there. Sister Mártir is tall and skinny. The dress was not. It was striped with every color imagineable and 100% without shape. As my companion held it up for all to see, I heard the voice of Donny Osmond in my head singing, "I look handsome, I look smart, I am a walking work of art..."

    I love you all!

-Sister Whitaker