September 30, 2013

My Mailing Address

Sarah would love getting your letters!

Caixa Postal 06
Centro- Cruz Alta- RS

Week 8 (30 September 2013)

This week was great!  We had so many miracles happen in Panambi. 

First and foremost we have an investigator that has committed to baptism on the 12th.  I am so excited for her and hope that it all goes through smoothly.  She is a wonderful woman and has such a beautiful family.  Hopefully they will all become as excited about the church as she is.  We met her by knocking on the house where she works.  After our first lesson she told us that she had never let anyone in the house while she was working, but she felt something when we asked to come in and now she has found the Gospel.  God works miracles through missionaries. I love it!

Our other progressing investigator is a mother as well.  We ran into her when we were crunched for time and asked if we could share a message with her another day.  She looked at us like we were crazy and told us that we should come in now instead of later.  As we taught her the Spirit spoke to each of us and she told us that she knew our message was true from the moment she saw us.  Our second lesson with her was about the First Vision.  It was my first time to give this lesson all the way through, in Portuguese, to a real investigator, but I tried my best and the Spirit did the rest.  I will never forget that moment.  It is times like that which truly remind me why I am in a foreign country teaching people about the church of Jesus Christ.

I know that this church is true.  This is the church that Jesus Christ established while He was here on the earth and was restored through Joseph Smith.  We have a prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, we have Twelve Apostles, and the Priesthood!!  Don't be afraid to share it with others.  Oh and this week we have the great opportunity to hear from the prophet of God, I am so excited for General Conference and the wonderful reminders, lessons, and guidance we will receive through the mouth of servants of God.

I am so blessed to have this opportunity to be a missionary and God is giving me wonderful tender mercies.

So, a lot of the people in our branch and a few of our investigators are interested in learning English, so Sister G~ (the other American sister in Panambi) and I will probably start that up soon.  The problem is that I feel so unprepared to teach people English.  haha.  I love the people though and the culture of Rio Grande do Sul.  They have a custom here where they drink this concoction of greens (which taste a lot like grass) and hot water.  I am not a big fan, but every single person here drinks it at all times of the day.  Good thing it is not against the Word of Wisdom, or we wouldn't have any converts here.

The language is getting better, but my brain is starting to get very confused because it wants to think in English and Portuguese so there are times when nothing, and I mean nothing, is going on in my head.  It is really weird, but I am hopeful that it is a sign.  The Portuguese will come!

Please let me know what else y'all want to hear about.  It is hard to remember sometimes.  I love you all!  You are in my prayers!

Sister Phelps

September 23, 2013

Weeks 6-7 (23 September 2013)

I haven't written for two weeks, so this is going to be very summarized, sorry if I leave anything out.

My last week at the CTM was great and I felt ready to go into the field. (I laugh about that now...) So on Monday we had training all day and then Tuesday morning my district went our separate ways and off we went. We flew to Porto Alegre and then took a five hour bus ride to Santa Maria. We got to meet our President and Sister P~ and I felt instantly at home. I am where I am supposed to be right now and I love it here. We had in field training with the President and then were assigned companions. My companion is Sister C~. She is from Sao Paulo and is a perfect fit for me. We are so similar in our testimonies, our likes and dislikes, so it has been pretty easy to get along so far even with the language barrier.
Porto Alegre airport
We were assigned to labor in Panambi which is a city of 30,000 people and only ten active members. There are about 100 inactive members in our branch so we have the responsibility and privilege to try and strenthen our branch by reactivating members and finding new people to share the message of the restoration with. It surprised me at first how many people let us into their homes to share a message with them, but if there is one thing I have learned here it is that no matter what language you speak everyone understands the Spirit and a smile. If you have those two things with you you can accomplish anything. Sister C~ and I live with two other missionaries in a cute little apartment building. All of us are working in Panambi, which already shows you that the Lord wants his work to move forward here.
Panambi outside my window

Random things about Brazil: There is a stray dog on every corner, people listen to American music ALL THE TIME. I ran out of time, but send me your questions and I will answer them next week. I love you all so much! You are in my prayers.

Sister Phelps

September 14, 2013

Week 5 (11 September 2013)

It has been one of the toughest weeks, but I have grown a lot and figured out what kind of missionary I want to be... A HAPPY ONE! For about a week I was kind of stuck on a few problems that I had been having, but when I sat down and really thought about how I was feeling as a missionary I decided that I didn't smile enough.  It is crazy how powerful a smile is.  It can change someone's day or even open their heart to hear what message you have to share and make them wonder why you are so happy all of the time.  So, even when you are having a rough day find a reason to smile.  There are so many around you; you know about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, you have a loving family, you have a Heavenly Father who loves and knows you personally and you can talk to Him about anything.  There are so many more, but just keep this in mind!  It is so powerful!  All of the missionaries I have ever known, when I think of them in my mind, they are always smiling, I want to be that missionary.

Last Thursday all of the missionaries and I that came straight to the CTM on August 7th got to go to the police station to be fingerprinted.  It was a lot of fun and we ran into some Americanos who have been serving here for quite a while and it gave us hope.  One Elder said that he dreams and thinks in Portuguese; I can't wait until that is me!! I love Brazil and am so excited to learn Portuguese!

One of our investigators is getting "baptized" on Sabado! I am super excited for him and am even more excited to meet all of the real investigators in Santa Maria when I get there in CINCO DIAS!  I cannot wait.  I will be flying to Santa Maria with seven other missionaries, three Americanos, and four Brazilaros; needless to say, this is going to be one fun plane ride.  This also means that I have no idea when my next p-day will be because I will be in Santa Maria.  Hopefully we get to email you when we get there, but I'm not sure exactly how that works.

We have two Brazilian roommates who are hilarious.  One thing that makes Brazil even more amazing is that most of the people have a great sense of humor so I feel like I fit in well.  (Sometimes I am not sure if they are laughing at my awful Portuguese or at the joke,) but either way we bond through laughter because of the language barrier.

One of the things that my District has been focusing on a lot this week is the importance of focus.  Making time to study and plan is pointless if you are not focused during those times.  The most important lesson I have learned this week is that when the spirit is with you it is easier to focus on your work and your studies.  I know that I can still use my time more wisely, but this little epiphany that I had this week has helped a lot. :)

It was Brazil's Independence Day on the 7th.  Because the biggest meal of the day in Brazil is lunch, let's just say that I had no room for dinner.  They had delicious meats and tons of our favorite vegetables, but, best of all... THERE WAS SORVETE (ICE CREAM!!) I have been wanting ice cream since I got here so now I officially know that dreams come true and prayers are answered. :)  But really though, that was some amazing ice cream!  I LOVE BRAZIL!  And I love the Brazilian National Anthem.  You should look it up.  It is super fast and super fun, and if you listen to the crazy piano part we get to hear it played live every time we sing it because Presidente Degn is a concert pianist, aka, the coolest person EVER!  I love the Degns!  That is one of my favorite things about being here in the Brazil CTM, is that you get to know everyone personally, including President and Sister Degn.

So... things that I miss most about the US... you all knew this was coming.  I mean I have been in a foreign country for six weeks almost.  I miss my family A LOT, I miss macaroni and cheese, my dog, having milk whenever I want it, bacon, BYU, having some alone time (don't get me wrong, I love my companion, but I need a break every now and then...), my iPhone because I am constantly wanting to know the conversions for kilo to lbs, fahrenheit to celsius, miles to kilometers, etc.  Anyway, I know that this is where I am supposed to be and I feel privileged to be able to serve a mission even if I miss some things about the past.

This Church is wonderful.  I love this gospel.


Love ya!
-Sister Phelps

Week 4 (4 September 2013)

So, to answer the questions... Sisters are allowed to wear sandals during the summers in Santa Maria (but only closed toes shoes are allowed at the CTM.) I am not sure about the mosquito repellent, but deodorant is a yes, bring it and no, they do have peanut butter here!  I'm not sure exactly what the other questions were.  Send me a list and I will get back to you next week, (my last Wednesday in the CTM.)

Okay, it has been an eventful week.
Last Wednesday we got 5 new members of our district, so now there are four of us going to Santa Maria at the CTM instead of only two, which I am super pumped about.

Last Friday we were able to bus into the center of Sao Paulo and go proselyting instead of walking around by the CTM, which is what usually happens.  My companion and I were able to place six O Livro de Mormons, it was an amazing and humbling experience.  You don't realize what the real world is like until you experience it.  People want to hear about Jesus Cristo, and would love to get their hands on a Book of Mormon, but they don't know it exists.  Let them know!  The first woman I talked to was sitting next to me on the bus.  She was a Catholic and had been all of her life.  When I told her about the Book of Mormon and offered her a copy she was so touched, she said that I was able to touch her heart, and truly, that is the whole reason why I have left my family, school, friends, and everything else back in the States.  I love the people of Brazil, they are so full of love and the light of Christ, now all they need is A Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos do Ultimos Dias.

I have the funniest Peruvian roommates.  They are hilarious and it is never a dull moment in our apartment.  One of them is super funny and love talking about American movies, songs, and culture.  We help her with her English and she knows the most random sayings in English and says them all the time, like "hasta la vista baby!"  Unfortunately we are moving up a floor tonight because we are getting Brazilian roommates, which should help our Portuguese.  I am excited, but sad that we are leaving our little Peruvians behind.

On Saturday night Sister S lost her voice.  She wasn't able to talk normally until yesterday so I had to teach most of the lessons myself, but it was a good learning experience.  I just felt bad for her because she felt like her Portuguese was fading because she wasn't able to practice it that much.

On Saturday we ate lunch and none of us were very hungry and we were saving room for the dinner before Fast Sunday.  Little did we know that in South America they fast from Almoco to Almoco (lunch to lunch) instead of Jantar to Jantar (dinner to dinner).  Right after our small lunch we were told this.  Talk about a bummer, but we learned that fasting is truly a sacrifice and that we can do hard things.  It wasn't really that bad, haha, just a little confusing.

Okay, I cannot believe that it is already September.  Wasn't I just about to leave for my mission, this is insane!  I am loving how fast time is flying, but am also sad to leave the CTM in only two more weeks.  Wow, it is all becoming very real now.  During our meeting on Sunday one of the counselors of the CTM presidency said something that really changed the way I have been looking at missionary work lately.  He said, "You all have already decided to become missionaries, but now you must decide what kind of missionary you want to become."

WE GOT OUR FIRST BAPTISMAL DATE!  Our investigator W (who is actually our instructor Irmao V) now has fully committed to live the law of chastity and be baptized on October 5th.  I am so excited.  It is an amazing feeling to see someone be interested in what we are teaching (in broken Portuguese) and absorb the message of the restoration with enthusiasm and be willing to change his life in order to come unto Christ.  Things aren't going as smoothly with our other investigator, but we are going to try new tactics this week to get her more interested.

Patience is my theme this week.  Having a companion can be very hard at times and is the thing that I am struggling with most right now, but tudo bem, all is well.  I never realized how hard and even painful patience can be, but as I practice having Christlike charity and compassion towards everyone it is becoming easier.

This morning we were able to go to the Sao Paulo temple.  We had two hours before our session started so we had the opportunity to help in the laundry room.  I also did the session in Portuguese.  That was quite the experience as well.

I wish you the best with this upcoming week!
I love you all and hope you are having a fantastic week.  You all are wonderful!

Sister Phelps

Week 3 (28 August 2013)

It has been an eventful week as always. 

Sister S and I are really getting the hang of things and are able to get our message out quickly and invite the spirit more abundantly even though we are lacking the language skills we want.  The language is coming along though.  I am going on a English fast for a few days this upcoming week, so we will see how that goes.  Our investigators are not "real," they are our instructors pretending to be investigators, but we treat them as if they were truly investigating the Church.  W was able to make and keep some difficult commitments this week including preparing for baptism and living the Word of Wisdom.  He always has so many questions and is progressing so much each day.  F on the other hand is not at all interested in our message and we still have to figure out what she needs in her life and how we can apply the immense blessings of the gospel to her at a more meaningful and personal level.  She isn't as quiet as before and is beginning to keep her commitments and see us more as friends instead of teachers.  Needless to say, I love them both and cannot wait to get into the compo (field) and serve God's children and help them come unto Christ and change their lives in order to return to Him one day.

I heard a statistic this week (which could be a little off because the man who told me was speaking Portuguese really quickly, but I think this is what he said... haha).  There are now 99 visa waiters in the states and guess how many got their visas this week... 2.  Crazy huh!?

During personal study this week I have been studying and trying to gain more insight into the things in my patriarchal blessing.  One of the most powerful realization I had this week was about the power and importance of the Priesthood.  Dallin and Dad, you hold the power of God, what a privilege, and because of the Restoration that power is on the earth again for everyone to utilize if they have faith and believe in God's limitless power.  I love this Church and am so glad to be serving a mission and through the power of the Priesthood I have been set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ to serve the people of Brazil.  Man, I am so happy!  :)

Meals were pretty much the same this week, but something spectacular happened...WE HAD DORITOS WITH DINNER!  Best day ever.  Seriously though, Americans, take advantage of Wal-mart and HEB... haha.

This morning we had the privilege of going to the Sao Paulo temple.  It is my second favorite temple for sure.  The inside is just so beautiful.  I love the temple.

We are getting four new missionaries in our district from Provo today.  Two elders and two sisters.  I am way excited and a little anxious to see how the dynamics of the district change with newbies here.  It should be fun!

Things I would have done before coming on my mission...
-Studied Portuguese grammar (I am now wishing I paid more attention in 7th and 8th grade Spanish class, conjugations are definitely not coming easily), but other than that I love Portuguese!  A LOT!!  It is a beautiful language.
-Read the entire missionary handbook once a week before the mission.  It is your life line, and it is good to know the rules before you get here so that strict obedience comes naturally.
-Stop saying slang now.  Anything you would not feel comfortable saying in front of the Savior or President Monson should not be in your vocabulary.
-Do something good constantly.  It is amazing how many things you can accomplish in one day when you aren't watching TV or surfing facebook... Make time for things.  Set goals.  Accomplish them. 
You will feel much more prepared as you use your time wisely.  The section in Preach My Gospel about this is super helpful.

I love you all and wish you the best of luck in everything you are doing.  Familia, know that I pray for you every night, at every meal, before bed, during personal and companion study, and any other time I pray.  I love you all sooo soo much and want you to succeed.  You are all wonderful!

Sister Phelps