Sunday, December 22, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,
This week was full of landmarks! 6 month mark! I ate the same thing for three days in four different houses, saw a person taking a shower in the street, saw a parade of 500+ horses pass by, was invited to celebrate Christmas by more than ten different people, and of course my testimony was strengthened a ton this week through the 1st presidency devotional and night of music put on by the missionaries. I can’t really explain it, but it doesn’t feel like Christmas yet. Maybe it is the weather ;) I have been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas. President Scisci said something that touched my heart the other night. "eu testifico que Cristo nasceu" (I testify that Christ was born). I have been thinking about this sentence. We often testify that Christ is our Savior, He lives, He died for us, he resurrected on the third day, but how often do we testify of his birth? This was the first step in His earthly ministry. His birth was crucial and so beautiful. I know that Christ was born in the humblest of places to the Virgin Mary. I am so grateful for Mary and her love and acceptance to be the mother of our Savior. Christ was born in Bethlehem. In Portuguese Belém means Bethlehem. I know it is not the same country, but it makes my mission even more special that the city where I am serving has connection to Christ. I have felt my love and connection to my savior grow so much here on my mission. I am learning how to put my life, thoughts, and actions in his hands. He really does break you down until you become humble and then builds you back up through experience and love.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and feel of the special spirit de Natal!
Love always (amor para sempre),
I finally figured out the name of the city where I am serving. Everyone calls it Cidade Nova because every neighborhood is named cidade Nova #?. I am currently serving in Ananindeua, Pará. it’s a mouthful to say. I am doing well and working hard to get to know the area and people. Our area is huge and it only consists of two neighborhoods. (it is about the size of Solon, OH maybe a little bigger, so just imagine walking this every day). The ward here has set some large goals and we are working to help them. One of the common situations in Brazil is problems with retention. Often times after someone is baptized they don't always become firm in the Church. We are working with this. Only 32% of the ward is active here (200+ ppl less active) and my comp and I want to change that. It is a ton of work, but it will change lives.
I have been thinking a lot about Christmas and culture. I love Christmas. Absolutely adore it! It is a time full of tradition, love, spirit, family, and memories. Even though I am far from my family, I still feel the spirit of Christmas in the heart. I helped put up our little Christmas tree this week and have been singing singing and singing some more and trying to serve, serve, and serve more too :) The culture of Christmas is different here, it is a lot simpler, but the message of our Savior's birth is the same. I am so grateful for simplicity. Life here is so relaxed and simple and everyone is just so happy. For example, last night we were invited to a house to try a fruit called "jaca" and eat mangos. They cut open this green spikey fruit the size of a watermelon. Then you eat the outside of the seed and spit out the center. It probably had 200+ inside of one fruit. It tasted like Banana with slime. Pretty good and I ate mango after mango because "Americans love mangos and you need to try every color/type". I ate four mangos yesterday and about passed out with the piles of other fruit we were eating. It was wonderful! Good thing I love fruit. It was so fun just chatting, sharing a message and eating fruit until the table was piled with mango peels, jaca, cupuaçu, and acerola. It was a simple, but wonderful event. "Simplicity is bliss"
I know that the work i am doing is so important and has the capacity to change lives and provide everlasting joy.
Love you all! Merry Christmas!!
Sister Sender <3
Dear Family and Friends,
What a marathon week! We had transfers and I didn’t know anything until Tuesday and then things were finalized on Friday. (some areas are not even finalized). I was transferred! Saying goodbye was bitter sweet and actually really difficult. I gave my heart to the people of Capanema and it is always hard to say goodbye to those you love. It was that same aching feeling that I felt when I hugged my family goodbye for the last time. Just imagine hugging person after person and having people break down crying in your arms. It was heart breaking. I had one young woman look me in the eyes saying "promise you will return after your mission!" I said yes... not knowing if I really will. It is my dream to return and visit the people I served with my future husband one day. I hope this dream comes true. Missions are bitter sweet. We meet tons of people and serve until we are exhausted at the end of each day and eventually have to say goodbye. Imagine how our Savior felt during his earthly ministry. He loved every individual with a perfect love. It had to have been heart wrenching to say goodbye in each city He served in.
I am once again opening a new area for sisters in Cidade Nova (6&7). My companion is sister Barros (another sister from São Paulo aka the Utah of Brazil). We are working hard while having fun. She is incredible and is me in the Brazilian form! aka she is crazy. haha but in the most wonderful way. I am excited for the changes (especially taking a shower with clean water for the first time in almost five months). Cidade Nova is wonderful. The members are so excited to have sisters. It has been nine years since they have had sisters here! (sorry mom... but it is because this area is really dangerous). Almost the same story as capanema (15 years without sisters). I feel so much excitement and cannot wait to see what adventure Cidade Nova holds. The mission president definitely has high expectations for me! (2nd aread and 2nd time opening an area for sisters).
Cidade Nova 6&7 is my area and our ward has one set of elders that are serving with us. Elder ´Poaletti, my district leader in the MTC is one of them. It is great to see a familiar face. During these past few days, I have had the opportunity to learn and grow quite a bit. I have felt the hand of God mold me and it is incredible. We live in a time full of excitement and we each have so many opportunities to grow and progress. The Lord truly has a plan and potential for each of us in this life. We each can reach our full potential through our Savior Jesus Christ. Every imperfection can be made perfect through Christ. Before the mission and in the MTC my biggest fear was that I would not reach my potential/achieve the plan/goal the Lord prepared for me, but I have learned that through faith in Him and His timing we each will achieve our potential and He will be proud of what we become, if we are faithful to the end. The Lord's hands are tied until we exercise our faith. I am learning how to rely on Him and trying to follow the plan He has set for me. I am serving a mission in Northern Brazil solely on faith in his timing and plan for me in this life. The things I am learning are priceless.
Remember to rely on Him always, and have faith in His plan and His timing. There always are blessings after every hardship and our progression will continue as long as we express our faith in him.
I love each of you and hope you are all doing wonderful and can feel of my love and prayers for you.
They use propane gas tanks (same as an outdoor grill) inside their houses with a lighter to start the stove and oven.
Dear family and Friends,
I feel like I start my letters the same way every week. "This week flew by", but honestly this week was so slow! We are waiting to hear about transfers so I feel like things are up in the air. Will I see my investigators a week from now? Will I have to say goodbye to my recent converts and members? It is so bitter sweet. I grow attached to people and love the people here and it is hard for me to say goodbye. We usually know the details of the transfer on Sunday and then prepare Monday and travel Tuesday, but President Scisci was in São Paulo all week for training and then spoke at stake conference yesterday morning and then again last night. So the entire mission is waiting. I have been in Capanema for 4.5 months with the same companion. I think at least one of us will be transferred.
This week was a week of reflection. I have thought a lot about my weaknesses and what I can do to be better. It is interesting how on the mission it is so much easier to feel my weaknesses and my desire to improve is so much stronger. We are here on this earth to grow, learn, and progress. We are given weaknesses so that we will humble ourselves and turn to our Heavenly Father in faith, and he will teach us how to turn our weaknesses into strengths; (Ether 12:27). I am so grateful for this. We do not have to live in weakness. We can progress through faith.
I have also been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving. This is my first year not actually celebrating Thanksgiving, and 2nd away from family. It is tough. But I was thinking about this yesterday.... I don’t need to eat turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving. I just need to keep my family in my heart (like always) and express thanks to my father in heaven and those I love.
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and sacrifices for me. Thank you for the love each of you have shown me. I want to thank my family for creating special traditions and memories full of love that I will never forget and want to pass on in my future family. I am thankful for our health and strength and also for the time I have to serve the Lord. i am about to complete my 6th month. The time is passing by so fast. I am grateful for the knowledge that we have and for my eternal family. I left my family for a short little while, so that others can be with theirs for eternity.
I love you all! Have a wonderful week and Happy Thanksgiving!
-people pump your gas for you and you pay afterwards
- it is rare to have internet in your house. They use cybers
Dear Family and Friends,
Another week down and I still feel like the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days. Time is flying by and I can already feel the impact my mission has had on my life. I am so grateful for this time to serve and grow. We had a mission conference this week in Belem with almost all of the missionaries here in missão Brasil Belém. It was wonderful to see many of my friends from the MTC and the missionaries that arrived with me. Elder Fernando of the seventy spoke to us as well as President and Sister Scisci. I learned a lot and reflected a lot as well. Just four months ago I arrived in Brazil and sat through a mission conference where I didn’t understand anything, and now I am basically fluent. We learned a lot about faith and obedience and my desire to serve and work increased. Sister Scisci said something that stood out to me. "We must first lift our foot with a step of faith, and then God will place the floor for us. Every choice and action in this life is a step of faith and the Lord is directing our paths. In my life, serving a mission was a huge act of faith, and God is placing the floor for me. It is like Elder Fernando said during the conference "Never say your mission is a sacrifice! Your mission is a privilege!" This is so true. Yes I sacrificed many things to serve, but the blessings and things I am learning are priceless. My mission is a privilege. I get to share my heart and love with people every day and know I am serving our Loving Heavenly Father. I came across this scripture the other day and loved it..."Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you." D&C 62:3 Every time we share the gospel, our words are recorded in heaven and our sins are forgiven. Share the gospel this Christmas season and remember that we have a Father in Heaven that knows and loves each of us!
I love you all!!
They take naps in hammocks after lunch 1-3pm and some people sleep in hammocks
- Thanksgiving is an American holiday (eat some turkey for me)
- they play soccer on concrete soccer fields barefoot.
-food is meshed all together on their plates and eaten as a mountain of mixed food.
- it is normal for 10 people to share a bowl of ice cream and pass around one spoon.
Love you all!!