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Semana 13

By 12:38 PM

Oi família <3

Transfers came in this past week, and no changes this time around! Sister Carvalho and I were the only ones in our zone that didn´t change companions. We were both pretty relieved! It was fun to get to know our new zone and district this week. However, we didn´t receive another companionship to help us out with the second area... so I guess Heavenly Father really wants us to learn some lessons from working these two areas.

Sister Brown's new zone

I don´t have a lot to report this week, but wanted to talk a little bit about what it´s like to serve a mission here in Brazil. Religion is HUGE here. Like. I don´t know how to explain it, other than I imagine it sort of how the Great Awakening was in the 1800´s in America... There´s a different church on every street and every corner, they have meetings every day and night (to make money, right?) and there´s constantly music blasting and people yelling and bands playing haha it´s such a strange thing. What´s even weirder is on sundays they even have churches that happen outside - the pastor sets up a microphone and speaker and just starts preaching and singing on the street. You see people walking to church everywhere, carrying their pocket-sized Bibles and psalm books. It´s an interesting sight. But, us missionaries use this to our advantage!

Because practically everyone has been raised in a highly religious environment, everyone is really open to hearing our messages. Whenever we street contact, rarely do people say we can´t come visit them. Street contacting and finding new investigators is really easy - everyone lets us take down their address and set a second appointment. This really opens the door for us to share our commonalities - that we believe in the same God (in most circumstances..), that faith is a huge deal, and the importance of having religion. However, our unique message of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon always interests people, and I really love being able to augment people´s beliefs of Christ with something more - His restored gospel in these latter days.

Another really interesting observation about missionary work in Brazil is that almost everyone we talk to has either heard about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has talked with missionaries, visited church, or even been baptized but fallen away. The retention rate in Brazil is horrible.. 98% of people baptized in Brazil fall away from the church within ONE year. It´s a huge problem. Part of our job is to really strengthen the wards, and the recent converts that we do have. Getting people to church is a massive ordeal. Because the church is so far away from most of our members, we have to arrange rides for everyone. And only like 3 people in our ward have cars that can bring recent converts, less actives, AND investigators. Sunday mornings are always so stressful trying to get to everyone´s houses, waiting for them to get ready to go to church, and usually coming away from houses empty handed because people are asleep or don´t want to go. It´s frustrating for us missionaries sometimes to have gone through all this work of arranging a ride and we get to their house and they don´t want to go. If people would just GO to church, they´ll know for themselves and feel that difference in their lives! It´s like looking at a chocolate cake - you won´t know that it tastes good until you try it. (That´s the hooker we tell people about church haha)

This week we marked 3 baptisms! Sunday we were walking around and felt prompted to visit a less active that made an appearance at church a few weeks ago (same guy who´s 16 year old sister has 2 kids). When we got there, it was just him. We kinda thought to ourselves, "why were we prompted to come here and teach a lesson to someone who is already a member?" After a few minutes of talking though, his younger brother Hugo (different Hugo) and a friend Gullierme showed up, neither of them have been baptized. Then another brother who is inactive showed up as well, and we proceeded to teach the 4 of them the Restoration, and Hugo and Gullierme accepted baptism! It was really interesting, as we talked with Gullierme about his baptism into the church Universal (which does baptism by immersion as well) we discussed the three important things about baptism - immersion, an age of conscience, and proper authority. When we asked him about his baptism and asked him if it was in the same way that Christ was baptized, he sat and thought for a minute and said, "no, I don´t think it was." It was really good, he reflected and really understood that he needed to be baptized in the right way with the right authority into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was a really sweet moment to see the change working in people right in front of your eyes.

This week I´ve been studying the "war chapters" of Alma. Always the hardest part of the Book of Mormon to get through, right? Before the mission I always wondered, why did Mormon really find it that important to include these chapters for us? Why does the Lord want us to know about the wars between the Lamanites and the Nephites? And this past week I´ve started to understand a little better. I realized that the people of the Lord are extremely blessed when they make covenants with Him. These people covenanted to uphold their title of liberty, to defend their identity of being Christian, and praising God. The people never stopped strengthening their weak cities, and never stopped praying to God for direction, and trusted in Him to save their lives because of their righteous cause.

Just like the Nephites, we are in a war today - a very real war with the enemy of the Lord, with Satan. We must never stop strenghening our "weak cities" too. Remember that the Lord gives us weakenesses that we may become strong - and how do we do that? We do the "little things"! Read the scriptures, go to church, take the sacrament, pray, keep the commandments, etc. In this account of the wars of the Nephites and Lamanites, the people seek divine guidance from the Lord. And in every instance where they need deliverance, the Lord provides a way. Note that in the scriptures, the problems of these people aren´t taken away from them - they aren´t delivered from prison, their problems don´t suddenly dissappear after they pray. But the Lord ALWAYS provides a way to strengthen them in their trials. Just like Moroni gave weapons of war to the prisoners of war within the walls of the city taken captive by the Lamanites, rather than taking away the problem the Lord provided a way for these people to liberate themselves. This is so applicable to us! Sometimes we think that the Lord will just take away our problems and our trials, but really He will just give us the means to overcome, that we can become strong.

Anyway! I love being a missionary! Progress is going well, tomorrow is my 3 month mark and I will have completed 1/6th of my mission already. It goes by fast.

I´ll talk to you all next week. Love you with all my heart!

Sister Brown

 New district with Sister Oliveira, Sister Ventura, Elder J Silva, and Elder Salvatierra

Sister Brown with Sister Oliveira

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