Hello from Itapetininga!!! It's a city about four hours away from the mission office in São Paulo and it's the area everyone calls "no fim do mundo" (at the end of the world) haha I love it! This city is very clean and there are very few hills, thank goodness. There are two branches here so there are two companionships of sisters and we live together: Sister Kürtem, Sister Silva, and Sister Vogel (my companion). I am the only American in our house (they are all Brazilian) and I am the only American in our zone too! So it's been pretty fun.
Sister Vogel (from Rondonia, Brazil) and I are both new to the area so this week has been quite adventurous. Lots of walking of course! Let's just say I am very grateful for our map! We have been trying to follow the notes the other sisters who served here before left us, getting to know all the recent-converts, less-actives, members, investigators, and of course, finding miracles of our own! It's been a bit stressful but I know it will just take time. The chapel was built in October and it is the most beautiful church building I have ever seen. This area is really growing and there is lots of work to do! Sister Vogel goes home the transfer after me so we think this will be the last area for both of us. You know what that means? Time to give it all we got!!!
Among the adventures of the week...
The day after we arrived there was a water leak in our house so we didn't have water or electricity for 2 days. Good thing Sister Vogel is super awesome and figured out how to fix it. This house is not the prettiest house I have lived in on my mission, nor in the best conditions... but hey, it could always be worse.
We accomplished the impossible and helped two very very timid girls, Amanda (15 years old) and Isabella (12), go to churchso they could be confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost. The previous sisters had their baptism the night before they left. When we met the girls for the first time, they didn't say a word to us and were so sad because the other sisters left. They refused to go to church. We visited them every day this week and little by little they are opening up to us. morning we spent almost an hour there trying to convince them to come with us to church. Lots of patience and love. Heavenly Father is a God of miracles, and finally, they accepted. It all turned out perfectly and the confirmation went great. Now the goal is to help them stay ative!
I am now an english teacher! The previous sisters started an english class (free, open to anyone) before they left and now it's my job to keep it up. We have it at the church buildingnight and morning. I was kind of thrown in there the first day in the area and had no idea where to even begin, but it all worked out. I taught them how to say things about Christmas and we sang Christmas songs in English. It was fun! There are a few investigators and recent converts that have been attending and we will work on recruiting more. This is good practice for me to remember my english!
I am SO excited to be serving here in Itapetininga! This area is awesome. I love my companion (I really do!) and I love being a sister training leader. Sister Vogel and I are one of the five companionships of siser training leaders in the mission. We are part of the mission leadership counsel and have meetings with President Farnes. Our job is to help the other sisters (we are in charge of 2 other companionships in our zone). We do training and 2-day exchanges with them every transfer. We follow-up and offer cousel and guidance. Our job is to uplift and encourage! So grateful for this chance to serve more. Sister Vogel has been a sister training leader for the past 4 months so now she is training me about what we do.
I can't believe Christmas is already here! I feel like my life is flashing before my eyes. When people ask me how long I have been on my mission, I almost cringe when I say "15 months". How is this possible??!!! AHH! What is happening?! I'm excited to talk with my family:)
I read "The Living Christ" this morning during personal study and I have to admit, this was the first time I ever read it. We have it in our home and I've skimmed it a few times, but today, I read it and let the powerful words truly sink in. It's the testimony of the prophet and apostles of our Savior Jesus Christ, His life, His ministry, and His Atonement. It really touched my heart today and helped me appreciate this Christmas season. I challenge you all to read it this week and reflect on our Savior and Redeemer, and what He has done for us. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He lives. He loves us. What glad tidings of great JOY!
Merry Christmas everyone! I want you each to know how much I love and miss you. Thank you for your support, your encouragement, your thoughts, and your love during this holiday season!
Seja Valente e Fiel,
P.S. Pics of my district from the Provo, MTC almost 15 months after we first met each other. So neat to see how everyone has grown! And the other is my new companion Sister Vogel and I. She laughed and laughed about this. Don't worry, we weren't really "lost"!