Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oi familia!!

June 9, 2014

Hello minha familia!!

How are all of you? It’s so weird to be typing in English because I am constantly thinking and speaking in Portuguese. It’s coming along slowly but surely, and for that I am so grateful.

Well . . . we received our transfer calls and it was a huge shock for me!! Sister Vieira will be transferred and I am really sad about that.  Also, I will be training a new missionary! I am really really really nervous, especially because I have only been in the field four weeks here. Oh boy.  Many prayers would be appreciated:-) I will receive the new missionary tomorrow and then we will get right to work for this next transfer!! She will either be a Brazilheira or Hispanica so at least she will know the language more than I do. Anyway, it will definitely be a grand adventure. My mission has been such a unique experience. From
sister training leader to trainee to trainer all in three short transfers.  Such is life.

We had a great week here in Cidade Vargas. Heavenly Father blessed us with so many new people to teach and we are really excited. We have been fasting and praying to find prepared people and once again our prayers were answered! These next few weeks will be really great, I can feel it.

Here were some specific highlights of this week and lessons I learned:

Sister Vieira and I ate out at Sweet Tomatoes here! Who knew that Sweet Tomatoes exists in Brazil, right? It was delicious. It was one hundred percent different than the Sweet Tomatoes we have--complete Brazilian
food--but so much fun. I was reminded of the time we ate there as a family and I spilled all of the bowls haha. I have changed a ton during my mission but I will forever be clumsy!

After we ate at Sweet Tomatoes, we decided to start a fast for our investigator Celia. Celia, Leticia, and Nickoly are still progressing well, reading O Livro de Mormon, and attending activities, but Celia and
Leticia have problems with coffee. We fasted that they would be able to stop. When we taught them that night, Celia said she didn’t drink any coffee that day!! It was a huge miracle because earlier she had been cutting back little by little daily. We are really excited for their progress and it’s amazing to see the spirit O Livro de Mormon brings!

I will describe a little about my area. I love it here. It actually reminds me a ton of MSU because we walk everywhere and street contact. I am so grateful that I got to serve at MSU because it really prepared me to
have courage when we stop people on the streets and be comfortable with talking to strangers. Our area is pretty wealthy for Brazil. Sao Paulo really is like the New York City of Brazil--which I LOVE. (Remember I
found out about the age change and decided to go on a mission in NYC? While I was there walking the streets, I pictured myself being a missionary in a big city and now my dreams are coming true!) There are tons of skyscrapers and wealthy people. It is really similar to MSU in that people will talk to us and set appointments with us, but it is harder to find people who will actually progress. When I received my call to Brazil I thought we would have baptisms all the time. It’s very different than that, and I am SO grateful. The worth of souls is great, and I love the hard work that goes into helping someone make a covenant with Heavenly Father.

With that being said, I had a really cool experience. We had stake conference this weekend and it was so amazing. We usually take the metro to get to the building, but there was a greve (strike) and so we had to walk. As we were walking to the building, we passed huge stores, bars, loud music, and all things wordly. These people think money and temporary satisfaction are the goal in life. I loved the moment we entered the stake center and I could feel the Spirit so potently. It was amazing to have the saints gathered and talk of spiritual things. It was so cool to see how the church operates in Brazil. It is the same. And so cool to be with people who realize money and happiness are the means to the end. The true goal in life is to prepare to live with Heavenly Father again.

Also something funny that happened this week is that I accidentally mixed up the words for unfortunately and fortunately.  I ended up saying “Unfortunately, God sent Jesus Christ to the earth” in a lesson hahaha . . . oops.  Live and learn!


Sister Dixon

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Adventures in Brazil

With Sister Vieira and investigators

June 2, 2014

Oi familia!!

We had another great week here in Cidade Vargas.  The transfer schedule is different here in Brazil--when I left Michigan, I lost a week.  Thus, this coming week will possibly be my last week with Sister Vieira!  She has served here for six months and everyone is positive she will be transferred, so keep me in your prayers!! I don’t know the area too well because I came halfway through the transfer and I am still muddling my way through Portuguese.  So we will see what ends up happening!

Here were some highlights of the week:  

This week I learned so much about the importance of an eternal perspective.  We had zone conference and it was really really good.  Presidente Tanner talked about the importance of conversion and retention.  Brazil has a huge problem with people going less-active right after baptism and so the missionaries are focusing more right now on teaching with a focus on enduring to the end.  I love it so much.  We are teaching about the temple in our lessons and really helping people to achieve a deeper, more profound level of conversion. We teach about enduring to the end, and President Tanner said the end is the ENDowment.

We put on an activity for our ward last night.  We pretended we were all on an airplane and the plane had some difficulties so we landed and fixed the issues.  While we were grounded, the people on the plane could wander around the island and participate in different activities.  After, we boarded the plane again but the plane crashed and everybody ended up dying . . . kind of morbid, but it illustrated a point.  We then sorted people into different rooms depending on what activity they did while they were on the island.  The rooms represented the different kingdoms of glory, and each room had different food.   For example, the telestial kingdom had water and crackers and the celestial kingdom had cake and Guarana.  It was really fun and it made me think about the things we are doing right now with our lives.  This time we have right now is so so so important and we should use every moment to prepare for eternity!!  

We also visited a less-active couple in the ward.  It was an interesting and saddening experience. They both have strong testimonies of the gospel, but they just don’t feel like they need to attend church right now.   They said they think Heavenly Father and Christ understand that they don’t want to attend.  As they were saying these things, I found myself thinking of the spiritual warfare we are in right now and how important it is to be vigorously righteous.  We never know when our time will be up!!

On another note, here are some things I love about the Portugues language:

When we greet people we say ´´Tudo Bem?´´ and they say ´´Tudo bem.´´  This phrase translates to ´´all is well.´´  I love the word ALL.  Every time someone says this, it reminds me with Heavenly Father, Christ, the atonement, and a positive attitude, ALL things in our lives can be great!  Sure, we might have a few hiccups here and there but when we count our blessings, we see that all is well.

When people pray, they always say ´´Nos te-agradecemos por um mais dia.´´  We are grateful for one more day.  I love that people are grateful for every single day of life they have.  We really need to make the most of every single day.  I have thought about that a ton lately because my mission time is passing so quickly!  I need to make the most of every single day!!

Another common phrase is ´´gracas a Deus.´´  People thank Heavenly Father for everything here.  Are you having a good day?  Yes, gracas a Deus.  How is your family? Doing well, gracas a Deus.  I love it.  We really should be grateful for every blessing we have and acknowledge the powerful hand of our Heavenly Father in all things.  

Portugues is going well though.  I feel really blessed!  Sure, I can’t say or understand everything but Heavenly Father has helped me never to feel overwhelmed.

Boa semana para vocês!!  Te-Amo!!

Sister Dixon

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

Storm feet (see below)

May 26, 2014

Hello family!!

I hope all of you are doing well!!  Sorry this will be short but things are going great.  We had a crazy week but I am loving the experience and challenge of finally being in Brazil.

Here are a few points of interest:

--We were supposed to hear from Elder Anderson this week but it ended up getting canceled because of riots about public transportation!  Crazy, right?  There was no way for the missionaries to get to the church building.  And apparently the riots were so bad that we had to stay in our apartments until 6 p.m. on Wednesday.  It was really weird to feel like we had another P-day but I made a bolo (Brazilian cake) for some recent converts so that was fun.  I was disappointed we couldn’t hear from Elder Anderson, but hey, opposition in all things right?

--The family we are teaching is doing really well.  We continued to teach them this week and they are making friendships with the ward members we have been bringing to lessons.  The Spirit is always strong during the lessons and I love how excited the children get about the gospel.  I understand why Christ wants us to be like children.  They are seriously amazed at every point of doctrine and everything Christ did for us.  Nickoly drew a picture of me I thought was funny...she spelled my name like the Brazilians say it (Geexom). Nickoly, Celia, and Leticia came to church again yesterday.  At the beginning of church they were nowhere to be seen and I was so bummed.  But we started RS (we have sacrament meeting last here) and I had a prayer in my heart they would still come. Sure enough, about halfway through the meeting they came and it was such a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father.  I know He really loves me and hears and answers every prayer.

--It’s really funny because we are starting winter here.  All of the Brazilians are bundled up in tights and turtlenecks and they worry about me when I only have a cardigan or light jacket.  Sister Vieira and I practiced how to say ´´I served in a mission that was 20 degrees below zero so I think the weather is perfect right now!´´  Its been raining a ton this past week which makes it hard to talk to people but this week looks like it will be better so hopefully we will pick up some new people to teach.  I attached a picture of my feet after a long day of walking in a storm:-)

On a more spiritual note, I feel like a huge theme of my mission has been patience.  I have learned patience truly is a heavenly attribute, and it was affirmed this week when I was reading in Ether 12:

´´E agora eu, Morôni, quisera falar algo a respeito dessas coisas. Quisera mostrar ao mundo que fé são coisas que se esperam, masnão se vêem; portanto, não disputeis porque não vedes, porque não recebeis testemunho senão depois da prova de vossa fé.´´

One thing I like about the translation in Portuguese is the word esperam.  Esperar is a verb that means to hope and to wait.  In English it says those who believe in God hope for a better world, but I like thinking those who believe in God WAIT for a better world. Patience truly is required to receive heavenly blessings for our obedience. Some blessings may not be received until after this life, but they will come!  The language is coming slowly, but surely and I am learning more and more how important patience truly is. Sometimes I feel like I am progressing really well and then I will try to talk to someone else and forget everything . . . but it’s alright.  It really is.  Because I have been called by God to serve here at this time.  I have been promised by my Heavenly Father that He will provide the qualities and attributes I need to complete His work. When I have patience with myself and with Heavenly Father’s timing, everything is always better.

Sister Vieira is wonderful and so patient with me and things are going well! I feel very blessed to be here. The culture, the language, the people, the fruit, and the flowers are so beautiful!!

Ate segunda-feira!   Eu amo voces!

Sister Dixon