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Samana 8

By 11:09 AM

Olá família!
Another week down.. is this still real? Am I really a missionary out in the field? YES!
I´ll apologize from the beginning, but I didn´t have time to write out an outline for this email this morning because... we went on an ADVENTURE!! Want to know where?
President authorized a bunch of the local missionaries and young adults from our ward to go to the DUNES!!! Wohoo!! So we got up and left this morning early to hike to the top of some sand dunes nearby that overlook the city of Natal! Wow it was SO beautiful!

We had a picnic up top and relaxed on the sand. Man, this place is gorgeous. On one side of the dunes is the city, and the other is a complete jungle.

Sister Brown with Sister J Baker

Speaking of jungle, we saw some monkeys just climbing around on the telephone wires this week - cutest things ever. I´ll send pictures when I get wifi next. Unfortunately our chapel has it but the connection is really horrible there and can never carry a signal strong enough to send photos, so I´ll have to wait until we´re at a members house next.

This week was better than last - still a constant roller coaster of emotions, success, and weather...
We´ve been having some very unusual weather here in Natal. I´ll just sum it up by saying, it doesn´t rain in America like it rains in Brazil...... Saturday we had to walk to the church, and of course a huge rainstorm came in. It was a hilarious sight, I´ve never been so wet in my life. Wading through water up to our calves, getting splashed by cars zooming by (sorry mom, they don´t really have sidewalks here so we have to walk on the road....) and just laughing at the situation! What missionaries do for the work…

(mom note: Emily sent another separate email to me and included the following interesting information….) Can´t have bikes here. Imagine Nairobi. Just can´t. Also, we do take buses places, they just aren´t easily accessible for working because they only have certain routes, and they are expensive for us because using buses isn´t really factored into our mission funds, so we don´t have a ton of money to spend using them. We use a free campus bus (theres a university in our area that has a free shuttle service Mon-Fri, the school is called UFRN) to get to a neighborhood really far away but it still takes us 25 minutes to get to the bus and then it only gets us to the other neighborhood so... still a lot of walking. No hot water at all. The toilets do flush, but only when we have water. Natal, gratefully has water. Other areas in the interior (Caicó, Mossoró, etc.) have issues with water. Never have the chance to speak English. My companion doesn´t speak a word, and no one does here either. I´ve never been to a country where really no one speaks English. It´s crazy. We do try to use umbrellas, when we remember to bring them. Often times the rain is a surprise.... and other times it´s just useless because it rains SO strongly we are so wet. I forgot to include in my family email when we got to the church dripping wet this week, the bishop´s wife felt so bad for us she ran to her house and brought back clothes for us to wear! It´s pretty bad sometimes but we do what we can! It does get cold at night.. I often wake up cold. But it´s funny because really it´s only like 70 degrees but I´m freezing haha. I´m acclimating to the weather! We have a washing machine, but it takes 3 or 4 hours to wash clothes, and then we hang dry everything. 

This week I have been learning the importance of practice. During these 12 weeks of training we practice teaching lessons, practice the language, and practice learning. The saying "practice makes perfect" really is so true. The more you practice teaching a lesson, the better it goes. I´ve been applying this to every other aspect of missionary life - practice in reading the scriptures, practice in praying, practice in learning a new language, practice in missionary work, etc. After all, isn´t our eventual goal perfection? Christ has commanded us, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as I am." How do we accomplish this? PRACTICE. That´s why we PRACTICE religion, PRACTICE our faith. In Alma 32 we learn about faith. We need to consistently nurture our faith until it has become a tree of knowledge - we need to, literally, practice what we preach.
Another thing I´ve learned this week is that in order for people to REALLY experience a conversion, they MUST read the Book of Mormon and PRAY. Pray, pray, pray. People can´t receive a witness about what we are teaching and the gospel without praying to know if it´s true! I´m always so frustrated with people when they really accept what we teach and feel the spirit in our lessons, but don´t keep their commitments to read the Book of Mormon and pray. How else can we receive truth? We can´t just expect a testimony of anything to take root without having shown our works, and acted on the promptings of the spirit and read and prayed. When, as a missionary, you recognize the needs of people and their problems, you know what they need to do in order to fix those problems. You know that they need to go to church, feel the influence of the Spirit, read the scriptures, PRAY to Heavenly Father, repent, etc. But these people don´t understand what to do. (Prepare yourselves for a really lame comparison) It´s like in the movie Bug´s Life, when the ants are collecting food and a giant leaf falls and obstructs their line - the ants have NO idea what to do and all freak out until someone helps them recognize what they need to do to go around the leaf. Us missionaries are the guides around the barriers and problems in these peoples´ lives. They don´t understand what they need to do, they don´t see a solution, and don´t see the other side. However, we can see a much broader perspective than they can - it´s called the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Restoration, and the Plan of Salvation. Our job is to help people work around the "leaves" in their lives.
Our Heavenly Father is the same way with us! We may be able to understand more about this life, where we came from, and where we are going and what we need to do in order to attain eternal life, but sometimes we don´t know HOW. We don´t understand our own leaves. But Heavenly Father knows, after all He placed them there for us to learn and grow, to be able to look back and understand and say, "now I know why". But how do we work around these leaves? We must pray. The Lord stands at the door and knocks, but we must open it to receive Him.
I´ve begun to sense the "urgency" (as President Holland has coined the term) of this missionary work. The day to prepare to meet the Lord is NOW. TODAY. And everyone needs to understand how critical this is! I´m still learning how to help people realize what they need to do, I´m still learning how to even communicate my thoughts and feelings, and I know that I can´t always say everything I want to and don´t know how to answer the questions people have but I do know that I can share my testimony of what I do know to be true and that the Spirit will do the real work.
Our 3 marked baptisms fell through this week, what a bummer. No one kept their commitments to come to church and read and pray about the Book of Mormon (refer to preceding paragraphs). How frustrating it is! Oh well, just gives me more motivation to work harder.
I´m happy, healthy, safe, and a little more tan ;) (really though, my watch tan line is out of this world already)
I love you so so so so so much!!!
Até próximo <3
Sister Brown

Sister Brown's district in Natal

Sister Carvahlo getting a haircut

Loving the purple houses!


Ok, now send some kisses!

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