Monday, December 30, 2013

Family Chat and Christmas Miracle Week!

Oi Minha Querida Família!!

This week was so wonderful!! First of all, getting to talk to you on google+ was the best thing EVER!!! I´m so glad we could meet there and that everyone´s internet was functional!! Seriously, I was so so happy. I just miss seeing your faces so much and it was so refreshing to be able to talk to you all again! 
The wonderful Familia Baptista who fed us on Christmas Eve, and Christmas
and who let us call home from their home! AND who gave us all flip flops! :D Love them!

Our district swapped presents this year.
My companion drew my name and gave me a NYC tin with a little elephant, Oreos and peanut butter inside! She´s great! haha Can you guess which present I gave? Yep. The batman mask and bowling pins. 
This week was kind of a Christmas miracle week for us. Do you remember the mission goal I told you about - trying to have 200 baptisms this month? And how, as a part of the goal they had challenged everyone to find someone to baptize this week? Well, we really started to think and pray and Simone (#1) was baptized this weekend!!! We had lost contact with her for a few weeks and were sad about it, but she called us this week and she was ready to be baptized! She is absolutely incredible. During our last lesson with her before she was baptized, she asked SO many questions she had had in life. She asked "If baptism is essential, how is it fair that my family who never had a chance to be baptized won´t ever get the chance?" So we talked about temples. Then she asked "Well, what if there´s family we don´t know about who were never baptized either?" So we talked about family history (yeahh FamilySearch)! Anyway, it was just so cool. Her baptism was Sunday and Andressa and Marcio were there to support her. They´ve come with us teaching a bunch of times this week! SO COOL!!!

Simone´s baptism!!
Unfortunately my pictures weren´t great. But it was such a happy occasion!

The other Christmas miracle was that we had a week of excellence this week!! :D This basically means that we met all the mission goals for the week with lessons, new investigators, contacts, etc. We were so excited. It is especially exciting because the beginning of the week was very slow for numbers with the Christmas festivities. :) Anyway, we were pretty excited yesterday and earned ourselves ice cream today! (That´s not a mission thing. That´s an "I´m Andrea and I just want ice cream" thing.) haha I´m stoked.

Semana de Excelência celebration pictures!

I also learned a new trick this week. I can turn into a waterfall! Seriously. I don´t even have to be in the sun! I can just be sitting down during a lesson and I have the great Merimeyre Falls (I can´t spell) cascading off my body! My companion can do it too. I think it´s a brazil thing. I also learned that when people tell us the temperature, they don´t actually know what the temperature is. I found out this week it´s only hit the 40s ONCE here this year. And I´m already dying. It is supposed to get into the 40s more often, but not as hot as I was telling you before. haha so... I´m sorry I lied to you. I really didn´t mean to. All I know is that it is HOT. And I seriously look like a waterfall sometimes. haha sorry for that image.

I found a butterfly tree!
Seriously, this hedge had TONS of butterflies. I held one!!!
I know this picture looks like I´m sticking the butterfly in my ear. But you can´t move much
when you have a butterfly on your hand. So... it is what it is. haha

Well, it´s been a wonderful week. I´m so glad I got to talk to you this week!!! Ahh, so so good! I love you all so much and I´m so grateful for you! I hope you are all well and happy!! I will talk to you NEXT YEAR!!! :D haha

Just because I was creative and I´m proud, this is my planner cover for this transfer!
You should read the dove wrapers. They´re pretty great. haha


Monday, December 23, 2013

Almost Christmas

Feliz Natal Minha Querida Familia!

What a week it has been! I´m exhausted! haha It´s so weird that it´s almost Christmas. It doesn´t feel like Christmas at all. Which, I think probably makes it easier to be away. But it´s still hard. haha The weather got into the 40s this week and everyone is telling us that it´s supposed to get into the 50s before the summer is thru. I don´t know what that is but I´m pretty sure it is not pleasant. They say that last Christmas was 50 degrees. I just honestly can´t comprehend it. haha We did get to go Christmas singing this week tho! One of our members organized a gathering at their apartment complex and had the missionaries come and sing. It was really fun because President Wright came to direct and Sister Wright played her violin! It was a fun little outing. :) And it felt more like Christmas. Except for the part where I kept singing in English and well... that was embarrassing. haha 

Singing with President and Sister Wright!

Also this week Andressa and Marcio were confirmed!! :) YAYY! They are so incredible. Their family is just so prepared. About 3 weeks ago, we challenged their dad to go 3 days without coffee. We learned yesterday he hasn´t had a single sip of coffee since the day we challenged him to go three days without! Also, he´s gone down from 48 cigarettes a day, to TWO!!! It blows my mind. These people are incredible. haha

FOUR ice creams for R$1.50!!! On one of the hottest days, we may have had 4 ice creams. Each.

This week, one of our members feed us chili, brownies, doritoes (I can´t spell anything anymore.), and OREOS!!!! There are now 3 American missionaries in the ward (and 1 Portuguese) so they went all out for us to feed us an american meal! I almost cried. haha they were very kind. :) 

MCDONALDS RUN!!!! McDonalds here is so expensive... this was a serious treat.

The food here is pretty normal actually. But we eat the same thing every day. Beans and rice, potatoes (usually with tons of maionaise), and churrasco (some sort of delicious bbq´d meat). So, we´re doing well on the food front! I do miss vegetables though. There really aren´t many vegetables available here, but OH the fruit is magnificent! Sometimes I eat an entire mango for breakfast, just because I can. Actually... I did that this morning. And yesterday. hehe

A little kitty that keeps coming into our house!!! It makes me so happy.
 We keep finding her chasing the bugs in our house! It´s so weird.
 I think she must come from our downstairs neighbor. haha

Besides that, this week has been pretty normal. :) It´s been good. We got to close our numbers after this week (because last transfer was short, we´re including the numbers from one week of this transfer) and it was so exciting! In total, we taught 107 lessons in 6 weeks, and had 59 new investigators. My mind is blown. Like... really blown. haha I think the most new investigators we had in New York during a transfer was... 2. And I think we had 60ish lessons? It´s a different world down here! haha 

Our pretty flowers.

Well, I get to talk to you on Christmas!!!! We´re allowed to use google+ so, that´s so exciting!!! :D I can´t wait to see you all!!! I´m not positive what time it will be yet, because we don´t exactly have a place to go yet. But... we´ll find a place! And we´re allowed to call home before so I´ll try to call Mom and Dad tomorrow (is that okay?) and tell you a time! I think it will be around 5:00 my time. PM. haha

My mark in Porto Alegre! This is my cement footprint and initials! haha

I am sooooo excited!!! :D I love you all so much!!!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Wet Cement

Hello My Family!!!

What a week it has been! haha First of all, transfers are tomorrow! Can you believe I´ve already been here a whole transfer? This transfer was shorter because of Christmas... so only 5 weeks. But still. I´m staying!!! YAY! I´m stoked. Sister Furtado and I get another transfer together!! Transfers here are craaazy. Like... We didn´t find out about transfers until about 20 minutes ago. Thru email. In New York they would call us like 5 days before transfers and tell us where we´re going, who we´re gonna be with, etc. Here they just send an email with a list of people who are being transfered. You don´t know where you´re going or who you´re gonna be with. You just know to show up at the train station tomorrow with your bags all packed. It´s nuts. I really thought I´d be transfered because I heard that sisters rarely stay together more than one transfer in this mission. So I´m pretty happy to be staying! 
Sister Furtado and I on her birthday.
haha the coke can says "Friendship" and it makes me happy! 

This week was good! Andressa and Marcio were baptized yesterday!! They are incredible. We´ve been teaching their whole family for a couple weeks now and all of them want to be baptized. Andressa is 17 and Marcio is 15. Their Mom and Dad have started the paperwork for marriage and will hopefully be baptized shortly thereafter! We´re so excited. The other day, we went to their house and found Andressa on the church website looking at the missionary page! She told us she wants to serve a mission when she´s 19 and well... she´s just amazing. Yesterday was beautiful and everyone cried. haha :) 

This week we also had the mission Christmas party! I got to see Sister Aidukaitis (I STILL can´t spell her name) from the MTC and I got to meet Sister Stevens (we talked before the mission, she left a month after me but got to Brazil 3 months before me. haha!) It was pretty happy. President and Sister Wright gave everyone temple recommend holders from the Porto Alegre temple and personalized to the Porto Alegre North mission! So cool!! I just love them. It was a fun day, and my district did a flash mob of random Christmas songs! haha I recorded it. Hopefully I´ll find a way to send videos home someday! 

Sewing our flashmob dresses!

The four sisters in our district :) All matching for the flashmob. haha
These dresses were like $8 so we all bought one to match for the Christmas party. 

Awhhh Sister Wright :)

Okay. The other day, Sister Furtado and I were really late to an appointment. We were half running half walking because it was late at night and we needed to teach a lesson and be back home in like... 45 minutes. Which is impossible. Anyway. We were hauling it to Simone´s house, not thinking of anything but "don´t trip on the cobblestone." Suddenly, I saw Sister Furtado hesitate, but I just plowed forward. My next step sunk into something deep and my back foot wouldn´t move. A part of me was scared it was dog poop again but... I didn´t have time to think about that before I looked down and realized I was standing in freshly laid cement!! Sister Furtado had one foot in and we both ninja jumped out. I sat on the sidewalk and poured my water bottle all over my shoes trying to get the cement off. We were both kind of in "We´re late... just get it off and keep going" mode, but then Sister Furtado started singing "I love to be a missionary" and I just burst out laughing! What a scene that was! We both just laughed so hard realizing how ridiculous it was that we´d not notice wet cement, and walk thru it in our sunday shoes (Okay, so we wear sunday shoes every day. But it makes the story better). haha needless to say, we signed our footprints with our initials and officially made our mark on Brazil. Bah. So funny. Maybe you had to be there. But I laughed pretty hard. And my shoes are fine... just in case you were worried.

This is what happens when you have a favorite pair of shoes. And then you wear the other ones one day.

Anyway, life is good. I get another transfer with Sister Furtado, I have 33 mosquito bites on JUST my right arm, but I´m getting used to bathing in sunscreen and bug repellant every day. The Portuguese is hard, but it was never really meant to be easy. haha I´m trying to say something new every day, and... really, life is good. :) I don´t know yet how it will work with calling home for Christmas. Hopefully they tell us more soon! But I´m so excited to talk to youuu! I love you all so much! I hope all is well!!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Clapping at the doors

Hello Familia!!

It has been a looong week. haha This was one of those weeks you always hear about before the mission. The one where you knock (or ... clap) every door you can see but not a single person lets you in. haha it wasn´t THAT bad, we did have some good lessons, but we walked SO much more this week than ever before. We had two really wonderfully cool days, but the rest of the days we both felt like we were melting. We knew it was hot outside when even the Brazillians we live with were talking about it when we got home. haha apparently Porto Alegre is a lot more humid than where either of them are from and ... well... yeah. It´s really hot. haha Someone said it was supposed to get up to 36 degrees yesterday. I have no idea what it actually got up to, and I don´t actually know what 36 degrees means... but... I know yesterday was HOT. haha I taught Sister Furtado the word "zombie" as we walked. The best part? Everytime we say anything about "Wow, it´s hot today" our members respond with "Just wait. We´re still coming out of winter. The summer is yet to come." And then I stop listening because I´m scared! haha

They have the beautiful Hawaiian flowers here - EVERYWHERE! (Plumeria)
They make me so happy!

It really was a good week. I don´t feel like I have any awesome stories because a lot of what we did was just walk and clap, walk and clap, walk and clap some more. But, we´re happy and healthy. haha besides the whole melting thing.

Thursday though, I taught my first solo lesson in Portuguese! My companion had a meeting, so I was with another sister teaching one of our investigators. I taught the whole lesson (first 6 commandments) in Portuguese mostly by myself! I also taught Word of Wisdom, and she accepted the invitation to live the word of wisdom! When we went to see her again later, she gave us a whole run through of what I taught. Which means she actually understood me! haha I was pretty stoked. It felt good. 

Kitties!!! This is the sword family I told you about a few weeks ago -
they have like 14 cats. It´s pretty wonderful.

I realized this week that my hardship in Portuguese is less in speaking, and more in understanding. I still don´t feel like I can understand a word anyone says. It´s so weird. With German I was the other way around. I could understand people, just couldn´t always respond. Here, people speak SO FAST and slurred that I still just can´t understand much. Which makes it hard to respond. I´ve also learned that there are like 4500 ways to ask someone where they´re from in Portuguese. Seriously, I hear a new way EVERY TIME someone asks where I´m from. Which is very often. And everytime I get confused and they laugh and ask me in English. It´s always the same way in English. haha So, last week I started just responding "Seattle Washington, Estados Unidos. Não Capital - Washington Estado." to every single question anyone asked me. haha it´s worked well so far! Anyways, Portuguese is fun. I love learning it, and it´s fun being able to say more now than I could a few weeks ago. I just hope the understanding starts to pick up! haha 
I bought an espitinho for the first time!
It´s basically just really deliciously seasoned meat.
Andrew would not like it here - meat is EVERYWHERE!

Well, things are good. We are working hard, having fun and learning a ton. I bought bug repellant this week, so that was definitely a highlight! haha sorry I don´t have as much to say this week. Know I love you all and that I´m so grateful to have your support! I hope everyone is doing well! You´re always in my prayers! I love you!!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Porto Alegre Temple

Oi Familia!!

This week was so good! It has been a lot cooler here the last few days, so that has been such sweet relief! (Did you ever think you´d hear me say such a sentence?) haha seriously tho, it´s been so nice to have a few nights cool down. (:

We went to the temple!!!! Ahh I love the temple. It was such a wonderful experience. I just felt at home. It was cool to be so far from home and be able to still feel at home there. And there were some temple workers from the States who spoke to me in English, so that probably helped! haha I´m so glad we got to go. It´s such a pretty temple! 

Thanksgiving was fun. We didn´t have lunch with a member, but one of our members gave us some money to buy lunch. So, we went to an all you can eat buffet and stuffed ourselves! One thing weird about having a lunch break instead of a dinner break is that you stuff yourself mid day and then all you want for the rest of the day is to sleep. But you have to stuff yourself because you have to make the food last till 9:30 when you get home. So... it´s kind of strange to my body still. But... it´s good. I just have to learn to not be a zombie after lunch every day. haha

At the temple

My only funny Portuguese mess ups this week were because I can´t keep straight "Posso" vs. "Pode" which is "Can I" and "Can you." I can totally keep them straight, but for some reason when I go to talk, I always say the wrong one. This week I asked someone "Can you use the bathroom?" hahahah oooh awkward.

A butterfly I found today. She climbed on my hand!! I HELD A
BUTTERFLY! haha I was so excited. I´m still kind of giddy.

This week has been better with Portuguese. I´m starting to teach more and I even spoke up during a lesson to say something we hadn´t practiced! haha it´s embarrassing it´s taken me so long to do so... but it´s still scary. I´ve given a bunch of Portuguese spiritual thoughts at member´s houses for lunch, so that´s been good. The members are always so patient! haha one of our investigators told me a few days ago that my Portuguese has gotten a lot better! I was so stoked! We started working with her my first week here, so she´s seen my Portuguese process from the beginning. I was pretty happy to hear something other than the "uhh... I can´t understand her. She doesn´t speak Portuguese very well." haha Though, I will say I have to laugh every time because they always go on to say stuff about how well Sister Furtado speaks Portuguese. They´re like "Your portuguese is perfect! How long have you been in Brazil?" And she has to explain that they speak Portuguese in Portugal as well. One lady asked her yesterday "Can you read Portuguese?" and I had to stifle a laugh. It´s like asking someone from England if they know how to read English!! haha OY.

Okay, remember my cockroach story? Did I tell you the part where I freaked out and ran to hide from her because SHE CAN FLY and she flew straight into my hair?!?!?! I had a cockroach IN MY HAIR. And then she got lost. BUT - we found her this week and I freaked out again cuz she was crawling on our "clean" dishes. You could definitely tell who the Brazillians were in the house cuz Sister Furtado and I were hiding in the bedroom with the door closed, and Sister Loss picked up the cockroach with her BARE HANDS and killed it. Then brought it into the bedroom and said "WAS a Barata!" bahaha I laughed. Poor cockroach. But seriously, on my dishes?! IN MY HAIR?! Yuck.

Speaking of freaking out - the dogs here. OH my goodness, the dogs. They´re fine during the day. They are loud and there are millions of them, but I can handle it. But I think they´re going to give me a heart attack one of these nights because their favorite past time at night is to scare the living daylights out of the sister missionaries. EVERY night I scream a few times because something jumps out at me. The city is dead silent at night - it is so nice! But we get in this zone as we´re walking home and then when the dogs jump out and start barking, we start screaming and grabbing onto each other. Then we remember it´s just a dog and we always have a moment of awkwardness after a freak out while we´re having to ... un hug and keep walking. haha UGH. 

This is when I stepped in dog poo and I was sad

Sister Furtado and I are still having SO much fun. We laugh every single day. Seriously, she is so great. I love getting to be her companion! It´s her birthday today, so we had chocolate cake this morning (for breakfast. ehem) and we´re going to find some ice cream later. It´ll be a good day. ALSO - our zone met our monthly goals, so we get a full Pday today!!! WOOOOT!! That means we don´t end Pday at 6 PM like usual, but get to go till 10:30! We might have appointments we have to go to later anyway... but it´s a nice thought. haha 

Anyway, sorry for this ridiculously random email. I forgot my planner at home so I can´t really remember anything specific that happened. It´s been a good week though and I´m happy. :) I love you all so much!! I hope all is well!


PS.  I had a cool experience this week. I had a pretty tough day on Friday. It was District Meeting which was all in Portuguese and I couldn´t understand a word. Which I´m used to by now. But suddenly I was in the middle of a role play and it was my turn to talk and I didn´t even know what we were role playing. I just sat there with huge eyes and a "how did I even get over here?" look, and we moved on. I was so frustrated. I was embarrassed and kind of annoyed they´d ask me to be in a role play and I locked myself in a bathroom stall and let myself cry. I cried and begged the Lord to help me make it thru the day. We had so many lessons to teach and I wanted to do anything but speak Portuguese. I cried and prayed and then had to move on with the day.
Not even 5 minutes later, Sister Wright pulled me aside and just hugged me. She then got really quiet and told me that she felt I had angels helping me. She said she doesn´t usually say that but that she feels it. She specifically mentioned a Grandmother and Grandfather, which I thought was interesting. I bawled. haha but over the next few hours - it was the weirdest thing. EVERY person we talked to - on the street, during lessons, members... everyone... Everyone we talked to seemed to go out of their way that day to compliment my Portuguese. One member told me that the spiritual thought I gave on Sunday strengthened her and her family´s testimony of the gift of tongues cuz they could tell I was nervous in the beginning, but when I started testifying she said I spoke with fluency. Another person asked me how many years I´ve been living in Brazil. HAH!! Somehow, I had angels that day telling people to be extra kind. To not make the typical "Ela nao fala bem Portugues" phrase I´ve come to know so well. Because I couldn´t handle it that day.
I´m not as good at Portuguese as they were telling me I was that day, but it meant so much to me that the Lord would answer my prayer in that way, because it was exactly what I needed. He answered a little girl´s prayer from a bathroom stall because that´s the merciful, loving, detail-oriented God we have. I´m so grateful. Someone else we stopped on the street that day told me the only reason he stopped to hear what we had to say was because I had light in my eyes and he wanted to know why. He said "Eyes of a Lynx" (which is not the first time people have told me I look like a cat here.) haha it was kind of cool. I don´t know what happened that day, but I´m so grateful for it. I´m so grateful for prayer and for the miracles the Lord is willing to give if we make the effort to reach out to him. I feel a little silly admitting to my bawling in a bathroom stall, but I´m just grateful and wanted to share. :)