Monday, May 26, 2014

Sao Paulo- Santana Letter 3

Dear Family & Friends,

Despite lots of rain and a few days of not being able to do missionary work, this week was quite productive! Heavenly Father blessed us to be able to make the most of our proselyting time and we found lots of new people to teach.

On Wednesday all the police in Sao Paulo went on strike so we weren't allowed to leave our house. Nothing too crazy happened but it's better to be safe (literally) than sorry. This was the day Elder Nelson was supposed to come speak to us so unfortunately we didn't get to see him. Bummer! But it was nice to have a day to relax and not have to walk anywhere. I wrote lots of letters and we caught up on our area book!

On Thursday we had interviews with President Martins and wow, he is awesome! He talked with me in English so I could understand everything, thank goodness. He actually served in my very same area over 40 years ago when he was a missionary. Santana has a special place in his heart and he trusts us to take care of it! I asked for advice with the language and the first thing he said was "Sister Jorgensen, just be calm. Patience and time" (yes I know, I am a stress bag). He told me if I want the blessings of the gift of tongues, I have to work for it. That means resisting to speak even a word of English, especially in our apartment. It's hard but I know that as I continue to do all I can, the Lord will make this weakness into a strength.

Friday afternoon and evening it rained and rained and rained. Everyone we tried to talk to wouldn't let us in and we were frustrated, tired, hungry (always), and cold. Not knowing what else to do, we said a prayer asking Heavenly Father to lead us to someone who needed our light, that we were willing to work in the rain, but we needed direction. After trying several other people with no success (at this point I was ready to give up and go home), we went to a different area. A little while later, we were walking past a house with the door open and a lady called out to us (in Portuguese of course), "It's cold and it's raining. And you're smiling. You must be of Jesus" Haha yes! We are! I don't remember smiling but I'm glad she thought so. We taught her the Restoration and we're going back on Wednesday. I know Rosa (the name of this lady) was a blessing from that prayer.

Yesterday at church I was called on last minute to share my testimony during Sacrament meeting. It was nerve-wracking but I know the Spirit was magnifying my words because I don't even remember what I said! Lots of people came up to me afterwards, complimenting my Portuguese, telling me it's a miracle I can speak so well after only 3 weeks in the field. Even if they were just saying that to make me feel good, it was a good confidence booster to know that I have heavenly help. I am grateful for the chance I had to share what was in my heart with the members of the Santana ward and our investigators that were there.

During personal study this week when my brain was on overload and I needed to read something in English, I found an incredible talk by Elder Holland called "Missionary Work and the Atonement". I read it before but this time it really hit me. We faced a lot of rejection this week and I was having a tough time. Being a representative of Jesus Christ is not easy. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? He suffered for our sins and sacrificed His life for us because of His loving kindess (1 Nephi 19:9). When I struggle, I am standing with the best life and example this world has ever known. His Atonement carries me. He dries my tears and heals my wounded heart, giving me strength beyond my own. 

We can do hard things! Just got to remember who we are and why we are here, and keep smiling!

Have a wonderful week!
Com Amor,
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. I tried "feijoada" for the first time this week at our Bishop's house. It's a black bean, meat dish- I have no idea what was all in it but it was good! The other pic was at the mission office waiting for interviews with President Martins. Love you all!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sao Paulo- Santana Letter 2

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was so much better! First of all, thank you for praying for my blisters. I realized how selfish I was being, so consumed with how tired I was, and complaining about how much pain I was having. Now I see that instead of merely praying for my blisters to disappear, I need to pray for the energy and ability to walk and make it through the day SO I can be a blessing to those we are supposed to meet. This mission isn't about me; this time belongs to the Lord!

So Brazilians have a really hard time pronouncing my name. Most of the time they look at my name tag and don't even try. So I have been taking on Sister "Jota" (Sister "J" in Portuguese) to make things a little easier :)

We spend a lot of time in a bairro (neighborhood) in the very farthest corner of our area called Zaki Narchi. It's an area of more than 30 apartment buildings that remind me a lot of the projects in Ensley (I truly believe serving in the Ensley Branch with my family for 2 years prepared me for this). The people who live in Zaki Narchi don't have much, but they are very humble and eager to listen to our message about the Restored gospel. This area is our powerhouse!

We have a rock solid, 21 year old recent convert named Edvaldo who passed the Sacrament at church for the first time yesterday. We have an investigator named Jaceleine who has 5 kids and really wants to be baptized, but she's not married and her husband guy doesn't want to be. We're also teaching Wemerson and Juceleine, the Brazilian version of Ivan and Belen from Northridge, who are also living together and need to be married before baptism. It's super rare to find people who are legally married. Funny side note, Wemerson told me the other day that I look like I am 30 years old hahaha. I blame it on being American. Anyway, all these people and almost everyone else we meet with live in Zaki Narchi. Every day in this area is an adventure.

Interesting things I am learning about Brazilians and culture here: they use military time, everyone drives really small cars, oranges are green, no clothes dryers, they eat Halls cough drops like candy, all the stairs are really steep, the napkins are so thin they are like oil blotting sheets, everyone here smells really good, moms nurse their babies out in the open anywhere and everywhere, you can't flush the toilet paper, everyone writes in cursive, they'll wear alot of American brands and anything with an American flag, and you really can't say no to things people offer you (you'll never believe this... I gulped down the famous Guarana soda the other day, my first soda in my entire life. It burned...). And the weather has been beautiful!! Yesterday was the first day it downpoured.

Differences between my mission in the United States and here in Brazil: we can only listen to music on Pday and it has to be Mormon Tabernacle Choir, investigators only need to attend church twice before baptism and don't have to be taught Plan of Salvation, no hour for dinner, no zone sports with other missionaries on Pday, we hardly ever use our cellphone and we can't text, we walk EVERYWHERE, and missionaries usually don't do many service projects because we are supposed to teach as much as possible. We have a goal of 35 lessons and 20 new investigators per week. 

As far as my Portuguese is concerned, I can understand most of what people say if it's church related. Anything else, nope! I just smile and nod. I participated more in our lessons this week so I am trying. Still frustrating but little by little I am improving. There is a neat promise by President Hinckley that if you read the entire Book of Mormon in another language, you will have the power of the Holy Ghost to be able to understand and speak that language. So that's what I am doing!

I love reading in Portuguese because I am gaining new insights. In 1 Nephi 9:6 it says "But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning..." In Portuguese, it says "Senhor conhece todas as coisas", using the verb "conhecer" for "to know" rather than "saber" (same as in Spanish). The Lord doesn't simply just know all the facts from the beginning or know who His children are. He understands us, He is familiar with what goes on in our lives. This helps me realize the Lord has a person relationship with each one of us. And just like the end of that verse says, He prepares the way for us to accomplish His mighty works. 

May we each strive to know the Lord a little better this week! I love you all and thank you for your prayers.

Com Amor,
Sister "Jota" Jorgensen

P.S. Pics are of the 4 of us that live and serve together here in Santana- 3 Americans and the other sister is from Peru. The other pic is from the top of a street with a beatiful view. I couldn't pass it by!

Also this week we have interviews with President Martins and Elder Nelson from the Quorom of the Twelve Apostles is coming to speak to us!!!! Stay tuned!

Guess what I just realized. A year ago from tomorrow I opened my mission call. And this week I turn 8 months old in my mission! Crazy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sao Paulo- Santana Letter 1

Dear Family & Friends,

"Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14) This is one of the 18 faith scriptures we recite in Portuguese every morning and every night. With faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, we can accomplish anything and be the instrument for bringing about many miracles!

WELCOME TO THE SAO PAULO NORTH MISSION!!!! Honestly this past week was tough for me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. So I definitely cried when I skyped with my family on Sunday for Mother's Day! Despite all the blisters from walking (about 8 to 10 miles a day) and getting used to a new language and culture, I have to remember everything is hard before it is easy. 

On Tuesday we left the MTC, met our new companions, and went straight to work in our new areas. I am serving in the Sao Paulo North Zone in the wealthier part of the city, in the Santana area. Our area is huge so there are two sets of Sisters and we live together (in a very nice apartment! I got lucky). Sister Pinon, my friend from the Provo and Brazil MTC, is serving in the other companionship here with me so that's been fun. I have an American companion, Sister Garner, from Mesa, AZ. She has been out for 13 months total, 8 months in Brazil. Sister Garner was transferred here to Santana only 2 weeks before I arrived so it's been quite the adventure trying to figure everything out, especially when I feel like I am no help. But Sister Garner is an awesome missionary and we are doing our best! We have been adding lots of new investigators. 

The missionary work here is on fire! There is no doubt that these people are prepared. I don't know if it's the culture or two random American girls talking about forever happiness, but people here are just more willing to listen! Sister Garner does most of the talking in our lessons right now, as it is very frustrating not being able to express what I want to say. But I know I have to be patient! I can't be afraid to speak because the only way I will learn is if I try to talk as much as I can, despite the many mistakes. I'll write more about our investigators next week.

I LOVE Brasileiros. They are so warm, sincere, and friendly! All the women greet you with kisses on the cheek. They are your best friend after just a minute of talking to them. No strangers here! The members of the Santana ward are strong in testimony and faith. And they are so excited about missionary work and love the missionaries. We have lunch appointments with members every day, instead of dinner like in the United States. Lots of rice and beans! I tried a new fruit called "caqui" the other day. It was kind of like a crunchy sweet tomato pear thing. And I tried cashew juice... not a fan of that one. But overall, I have been very impressed with what people feed us!

Well my brain hurts. I know these first few months are going to be tough, and right now it's been more physically tough than anything else. I am just so tired! But I really am SO happy to be here. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters here in Brazil, to take what I have learned in California to be the best, most valiant, missionary the Lord wants me to be. I know Heavenly Father has everything all under control and He knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I am feeling and He sends me little daily reminders to let me know I am not too far from home (like hearing Taylor Swift playing from a nearby store haha). I am so grateful to know I have a loving Heavenly Father, an "Amoroso Pai Celestial", who loves me and wants me to be happy. It's so special to see and feel how my same Father in Heaven loves these precious people, moms and dads, sons and daughters, here in Brazil too.

Pray for my blisters! I don't want to even tell you how many band-aids I go through a day. I LOVE YOU ALL!

Com Amor,
Sister Jorgensen

P.S. Pics of my new companion and I, the Sao Paulo temple, and the first day in our new apartment when I saw the view from our window (we live on the 8th floor- I still can't believe we live in a place that nice).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Brazil MTC

Dear Family & Friends,
This is my one and only Pday email from the Brazil MTC so get excited!!! I have way too many things to write about and I don't even know where to begin. But first and foremost... I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!
Having visa-waiters come to the training center in Brazil is the best (most inspired) idea ever. Total immersion in the language. Us few "Americanos" (there are about 30 of us total) are among more than 250 missionaries from Brazil, Ecudaor, Argentina, Peru, and several other countries. It's super weird to be the "foreigner". My district is made of all American visa-waiters like me, but we are mixed in with the other missionaries for meals and everything else. Our teachers speak Portuguese (most of them don't even know English) and our roommates are even Brazilian. I'm definitely trying to make the most of this opportunity to speak the language as much as possible. It's frustrating but Heavenly Father helps me.
The biggest adjustment so far for me has been the food. SO MUCH MEAT. I wonder what I'll be eating when I go to my first area next week. I think I'm getting used to having a ham and cheese sandwich (everyday) for breakfast, but I'm still hoping for a dessert that doesn't jiggle...
I love being here at the Brazil MTC because we get hands-on experience. On Saturday our district rode an extremely crowded city bus to the center of Sao Paulo to proselyte. Each companionship had to give out 6 copies of the Book of Mormon. Coming from my state-side mission where people pretty much scream and run when you say the word "mormon", I was shocked at how easy it was. Brazilerios were taking the Book of Mormon like it was candy. Of course explaining the Book of Mormon in my extremely limited langauge abilities was difficult, but I could at least say my testimony! That's what is most important.
This morning we went to the temple in Sao Paulo which was a really special experience. So beautiful!  I can't even express how it feels after waiting so long to actually be here in Brazil. The session was actually in Spanish because most of the missionaries we were with were from Argentina, so I had headphones for translation. No matter where you are in the world, no matter what language you speak, no matter what temple you're at, the Spirit is the same.
Last night we had a devotional by Elder Pinho (just was called to the Quorom of the Seventy this last conference and happens to be the dad of one of my teachers at the Provo MTC) and all the missionaries got to sing a special verson of "How Great Thou Art". We sang a verse in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. I had to hold back tears because the Spirit was so strong. It's just so neat to be surrounded by all these missionaries from different countries who have the same testimony and conviction about the gospel of Jesus Christ as I do. Though it was in Portuguese, the devotional was great and I understood a lot.
The other Americans in my district waited for their visas for anywhere from 7-12 months. I didn't realize how lucky I was. It's interesting to have this "pause" in our mission, coming back to the structured environment of the MTC after being in the field for so long, but I am SO grateful for this experience. Several visa-waiters in my district had the chance to serve as Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders so I am learning a lot from them. Sister Talli Archibald from my stake in Alabama is in my district (she waited for 8 months and served in AZ) and Sister Gabrielle Pinon from my Provo MTC district (served in St. Louis, Missouri) is my companion! These familiar faces are definitely a tender mercy from Heavenly Father to help me in this transition.
Every day when I wake up and look out the window at the beautiful city of Sao Paulo and see my Brazilian roommates, I thank my Father in Heaven for this opportunity to serve here. I am so blessed to finally be living my dream. I am not going to waste a single minute of it! I am thankful I have the chance to serve two very different missions, which were and will be hard in different ways. The experiences I am having are giving me a foundation in faith and testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ that I will have for the rest of my life.
I wish I could write for hours and hours and hours but this will have to do for now. I tried to include pictures but I think these MTC computers are blocking it so I'll have to keep you wondering, sorry. Next email I will be in my Sao Paulo North mission! WOOHOOOO!
I love you all! Thanks for the prayers and support.

Com Amor,
Sister Jorgensen