Sunday, September 21, 2014

BRaZiL! - MTC Round 2

Dear Family!!!
So in I'm Brazil and I absolutely love it!!!! I still can't believe that I am actually here. It surprises me a bit to be honest... seems like I have been waiting for it for so long, and now that I am here, it is just amazing! Things here are going really well in the MTC. I can say that I am definitely grateful for all of the practice and the diligence that I put into studying Portuguese before my mission. Without a doubt, it has definitely paid off and I am receiving a TON of help from Heavenly Father with the language. The Gift of Tongues is defintiely a real thing... and I am SO grateful for it. Also, thank you for all of your prayers in my behalf. I have definitely felt them and I know that it it is making a huge difference.
On Saturday we were allowed to get out of this place... I think we went to the Teatro Minicipal... don't quote me on that though... anyways, we got to hand out Book of Mormons. Man, can I just say that Heavenly Father really helped me out with that. I was actually able to understand about 65% of what people said to me. Definitely a miracle!! It's bit intimidating being around people that you don't fully understand and trying to talk to them about Christ and the Restored Gospel and then they say something and you have absolutely no idea what to say back because you don't know what they said. But really, things turn out okay. This truly is God's work!!

Theatro Municipal - Brazil (
As for the food here. Except for breakfast, I have had beans and rice for every meal. It's a good thing I like beans and rice because I have a feeling that I am going to have that a lot of it in Brazil... The food is pretty good though. They don't have a ton of variety, but that's okay. I think I've only had one or two things that I couldn't quite get myself to eat... one of them was a squid and rice dish... yeah, no thank you. I'll pass on that.
I get along with my companion, Sister Garnett, very well! She is super nice and has a desire to work hard, which I am VERY grateful for. My district is okay. To be honest, sometimes it is hard. They are all pretty much teenage boys and goof off a lot of the time. They don't really like to talk in Portuguese, and it is hard to always be speaking in Portuguese when everyone else in the room is talking in english. I'm taking things one day at a time though and just keeping in mind that I will soon be out of the MTC. I think it's interesting that some people here have the attitute that they don't need to be here because they already know how to be a missionary and that this is a waste of their time. The MTC is a lot different from the field, but I am enjoying it!
This past week I was called as a Sister Training Leader... that's basically just a person who watches over the other Sisters and makes sure that they are keeping the rules and everything. It's pretty great because I get to talk to the other sisters and get to know them a bit. Thank heavens none of them have trouble following the rules. :)
Well, I'd say that that is pretty much it. All day I pretty much sit in a classroom and learn how to speak Portuguese better. My teachers are pretty great. They don't really speak English at all so sometimes we have no idea what they are saying so we just smile and say "sim" (yes) and then that appeases them so they go away. 9\10 I know what they are saying though, so that is good! From what I have experienced about Brazil, it feels like a home away from home!
Interesting thing I learned this week: hashtag in portuguese =jogodevelhas= game of the old. y'all= gente.
I love y'all tons!!!!!

Last Day in Tennessee

Dear Family!!

Well can you believe it?!? My last full day in Tennessee!!! Yeah, I can't believe it either. It doesn't feel that real yet. This past week has been good, a little bit slower because a few of our investigators are out of town, but it has still been a very blessed week! 

We've been able to have some REALLY good success with Donna this past week. We officially taught her the Word of Wisdom and asked her to live it. She was a bit hesitant on that. She's been smoking and drinking coffee and tea for 60+ years. She's made a schedule for herself though to be off coffee and tea by the end of the week. And then, with smoking, she is down to 13 cigarettes a day now!! (I know that sounds like a lot, but when we first started meeting with her, she was at 30 a day, so miracles are happening slowly, but surely). When we left her house from that lesson, she gave us all of her tea and most of the coffee in her house! It felt very rewarding to leave her house carrying a huge tub of coffee and tea!! Donna came to not only Sacrament meeting this week, but also Sunday school! It was nice to have her and I feel like she learned a lot. Next week she is planning on coming to Sacrament meeting, taking a nap during Sunday School, and then going to Relief Society... Hopefully one day she'll be able to go without a cigarrette for a few hours so she can come to all three!!

Loretta is just amazing. Blessed Loretta. She's been reading every single day and praying every single day. She wants to get baptized with her boy Sammy. They came to a baptism for an 8 year old girl this week and it seemed to be a super good experience. Sammy got a bit restless so right after the baptism, they left. Sunday she showed up for church again, and boy oh boy was it just great! During Relief Society, Loretta got up and said her testimony (the RS president had asked her a few days beforehand). It was super cool to hear it though. She told an experience that she had where she was reading the Book of Mormon for 15 hours straight. She stopped afterwards to take a 20 minute nap. During that nap she had a dream and she just knew without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. She said how every Sunday from now on out, she will be at church. She wants to be baptized sometime in January. I am SO excited for her!!!! Kinda sad that I won't be here to see it all, but we are going to keep in contact!

We had a funny experience this past week. We were out trying to talk to people at the park. There was this guy that was out, so we decided to go and talk to him. When we came up, the very first thing that came out of his mouth was "I'm not homeless, I promise." We introduced ourselves and got to know him a little bit and all that fun jazz. We told him that as missionaries, we share a message about Christ and His restored Gospel and asked if he would be interested in learning more. He said he had to go, we said okay and asked for his number. He said he didn't want to give it, so we gave him ours.... okay, fast forward to later that night. We got this random text that said "Is this the Sister Missionaries...truecountryboy". Sister Linford and I were just ecstatic. No one. I mean no one, just sends us texts out of the blue. We had all of these high hopes of baptizing this mysterious person, and all that fun jazz. (We had completely forgotten about the incident at the park earlier in the day because things like that happen all the time). Anyways, we responded quickly and assured him that he most definitely had the right number, and asked who it was. The response "The really cute guy who yall gave the card too here at the park....truecountryboy". I won't lie, our high hopes of baptizing him started to decrease a little bit by getting that text. But, we persisted. We told him how we share a wonderful message about Christ and asked if he would be interested in learning more. Right away he responded and said: "Ummm no thanks sorry darlins..Just thought I would text yall but i can see you or ur blonde friend aint into talkn 2 me...truecountryboy." So yeah, that ended there. And the high hopes that we had of baptizing him ended there as well. Maybe one day. 

We volunteered at this Fair thing and had a booth this past week. All of the missionaries in the stake had to sign up to take a time. When we did it, there was a UT football game going on, so there was hardly anybody at the fair. So, it was really boring. But, we did talk to every single person that went past, so that was a good thing!!! 

I am really, really enjoying being with Sister Linford!! She is so sweet! I am really sad to be leaving her, I know she will do just great here though!!

Sister Beth Spencer

Monday, September 1, 2014

8 days til Brazil!

Dear Family!! 

So, we were just going to email on Tuesday since today is a holiday, but we found a spot that has internet access, so we decided just to email now. 

This week has been good! I officially got my flight plans. I fly out on Tuesday at 4 pm, fly to Atlanta Georgia, have a 4 hour lay over. My next flight takes off at 8 that night, and then I will arrive in Sao Paulo the next morning around 7. Man, that is going to be a lloooonnnngggg flight,  and I should go straight into learning at the MTC, but hey, I am still just SO excited for it!! My District Leader, Elder Cabral, is from Brazil and speaks Portuguese so I've been able to practice with him a tad bit. I feel okay when talking about a gospel subject, but when if we try to talk about other things, it gets a bit rough. I have a LOT to learn, but I am confident that the Lord will help me since He has asked me to do this! 

This past week has been a super good week! We had 5 investigators at church yesterday and man it was just so great!!!! Nam, Loretta, Donna, Sister Fritz, and Lin. Super good.  Best I've ever had. Well, I'll go and describe a bit about our investigators. 

 Nam is progressing super well. We met him at the church one day for a lesson with a member. We started to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he had a few questions, so we just stopped there and  figured out more of his concerns and taught him part of the Restoration. He said that hew as going to come to a baptism on Friday that another set of missionaries was having, but he showed up late so only made it to the closing hymn. He came to church on Sunday and we committed him to read and pray daily! He's all for it!! We tried to soft-commit him for baptism (if you come to know this is true, will you be baptized), but he just got super confused. He's Vietnamese. So, we'll have to go more over baptism later. 

Loretta is just doing so great! She wants to be baptized with her boy Sam Oliver. I think that is just so great. We finished teaching her the Plan of Salvation this past week and she accepted all of it, no trouble. On Sunday, she came to church!!!!! (first time ever!!!). And then, she has received a ton of Fellowship from ward members. Just wonderful!

Donna is doing well. This was her 5th week attending church. She is still having a hard time quitting smoking.... but she has cut back a TON. She's gone from 30 cigarettes a day, to between 10-15. By small and simple means are great things brought to pass. Donna has passed the Isaiah Chapters in the Book of Mormon and she is still going strong!! 

Carol and Dale are doing pretty well. This past week we asked them if they would be baptized if they came to know what we were teaching is true. Dale said yes right away!!!! And then, Carol was super hesitant about saying yes and just asked us to move on. So, we'll keep on going over there to teach them! Except, I won't see them again because they are out of town for three weeks, and then I'll be going to Brazil. That's okay though. They are having major issues excepting that we are literally spiritual sons and daughters of God and that we existed before we came to this Earth. I think that is so sad. 

Maria is doing well.... sort of. She's signed her kids up to be confirmed in the Episcapol  Church... so really, not that great. She's committed to read the Book of Mormon again and she's told us herself that she feels so different around members (in a good way). But, she won't come to church and is pretty much actively pursing another church. I don't know if we'll keep going to see her. It depends on if she keeps her other commitments. We tried to soft commit her for baptism, but she got offended that we would ask her to be baptized again. We'll see what happens. :-/

Sister Linford and I are doing super well together! It is fun being companions with her. This will be our last week together. Kinda sad, but we'll make it fun! I'll take tons of pictures to send to y'all! 

I love y'all tons!!!! 

Sister Beth Spencer