August 23, 2013

Week 2 (21 August 2013)

It has been quite the week.

We have two new investigators and so far things are going great!  We got W-- to pray for us and read a lot of the Book of Mormon.  We challenged him to be baptized and he promised to prepare, but he didn't want to set a date.  Our other investigator has been more of a struggle, but my companion and I are learning how to better plan our lessons in order to meet the needs of our investigators.

I have been getting headaches a lot because of all the knowledge that I am trying to cram into my head.  I have to keep telling myself that I need to first learn the language of the Spirit and the Gospel and then I can better learn Portuguese.  Hopefully it will start to work.  Haha.

Saturday was a lot of fun.  For service, instead of cleaning floors in the CTM or dusting, we got to go out onto the street and pick up trash.  It was a neat experience.  People kept talking about "the Americans" who were serving them and we were able to share with some of the people around us about why we are in Brazil.  I already love the Brazilian people and I haven't even been around them very much.  It is an amazing culture centered around family and Christ, just like our church!   My message is perfect for them. 

For example, we were able to bus over to the Campinas temple this morning.  The CTM instructor was in our mini bus, van thing.  He kept telling the Elders that they should talk to the bus driver about the church.  They eventually were able to start up a conversation with the man and the CTM instructor began to tell him all about the church, how we believe that families can be together forever and the man seemed really touched.  He came and picked us up after the session and we game him a The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a picture of Jesus, O Livro de Mormon, and a picture of the First Presidency.  He seemed very touched and I truly hope that he will look into the church.  Even though this man may never get baptized, we have planted a seed that might lead to something greater.  Another wonderful thing about this experience is that as the instructor told him about the church I was able to understand nearly every word that he said.  If that is not the gift of tongues, I don't know what is.  The CTM is a wonderful place.  One thing I didn't realize is that this building was dedicated as a temple would be, it is more than just another church building.

Last night for devotional, we were able to watch an address that Elder Bednar gave in the Provo MTC on Christmas Day in 2011.  He said a few things that really changed the way I am thinking about my mission.  He hammered home the idea that we are not here for ourselves.  We are here because we are truly "representatives of Jesus Christ."  He also said that we need to develop in ourselves the "character of Christ."  Which he explained is turning outward and helping others when the "natural man" would want us to turn inward and think only of ourselves.  I am so grateful to be here in Brazil, preparing to serve the people here with all of my heart.  I hope to learn to see everyone around me as Christ would see them and becoming more and more like Him every day.  As I wear my nametag, it doesn't just say "Sister Phelps," it also bears the name of Jesus Cristo.  Eu sei que Jesus Cristo es meu Salvador, e todos pessoas Salvador. Ele e Pai Celestial amo nos. I am honored to represent them as I strive to serve and as Elder Bednar said, "Missionaries are visual testimonies of the love of Jesus Christ."

Thank you for all of your love and support.

August 14, 2013

First P-day

Our day starts at 6:30 like all other missionaries, we go straight to breakfast and then have time for personal study in our classroom.  Our district is so fun, but kind of small.  At the moment it is comprised of two trios, one trio of sisters and one of elders.  Unfortunately they are taking my third companion and giving her to a sister that just arrived from Provo this morning, but it was fun while it lasted!  Yesterday he shared with us his conversion story and why he served a mission, and it made me realize that as missionaries, we are not only finding people to baptize and bring to Christ, but those people that we find  could serve missions, or have children that serve missions.  It was quite the ipiphany. (I can't spell... haha.)

The language is coming along.  I can get my point across for the most part, but conjugations are really messing me up.  I am wishing I remembered more about 8th grade Spanish.  The Rosetta Stone that I used this summer seemed to help a lot though and my entire district relies on me to tell them how to pronounce things.  It makes me feel good about my Portuguese.  The only time that I really get frustrated with language barriers is when my companions and I teach our "investigators."  They are professors and professoras in disguise, it makes it more fun.  Our last investigator's name was E--.  She was only 16 and had no interest in learning about Jesus Christ or the church and claimed that she only asked the missionaries to bring her a Book of Mormon because it was free.  As we got to know her more we found more that she had in common with church members and she eventually came to church with us and was able to feel the Spirit.  She really was interested in the sacrament and connected with that concept of the Gospel.  Irmao V-- told us that the only reason he began listening to the missionaries was because he was interested in the history of the Nephites and Lamanites, but then he learned to hear and heed the Spirit and became converted.

After language study we have lunch, which is a bigger deal than dinner here.  In Estados Unidos families gather for dinner, but in Brazil they eat lunch together as a family.  We then have classes that are more focused on missionary work, teaching lessons, and learning to love the people and the culture of Brazil.  Around 4 we eat dinner and then have an hour or so to prepare to teach our investigator.  It is really nerve wracking, but better to learn here than in the field.  We get a snack around 9 (which is another thing they do here in Brazil) and then we plan for the next day and have to be in bed by 10:30.  The days are long and seem like they will never end, but I love it.  I feel so productive and now I wish I had used my time more wisely this summer.

This morning we were able to go to the Campinas Brasil Temple.  The Sao Paulo temple is currently closed for cleaning, which means that I get to go to two temples in Brasil before I leave the CTM.  Something that struck me today as I was sitting in the temple is that I never want to be separated from my family.  I am so grateful for this knowledge that I have that families can be together forever.  I realized that is why I am serving a mission; to bring people closer to their Savior and by doing so help them get to the temple with their families.

Last thought before I have to go.  This week Presidente Degn (of the CTM) told all of the new missionaries one very important thing.  "You cannot convert others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ if you have not first converted yourself."

I love Brasil and am so happy to be here!

Sister Phelps

August 5, 2013

Mission Pictures

Tomorrow I am off to Brazil to serve the Lord for 18 months! Before I leave I wanted to share with you my mission scripture. Ether 12:27 says...

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 
I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my 
grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; 
for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, 
then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I was able to take my mission pictures this morning. The lovely Sister Penman was able to take them for me. :) Look out... there are more to come!