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