Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Petrolina Oeste

Good morning, my beautiful family and wonderful friends! 

I hope you are all doing well. Thank you for the emails and the pictures. I am glad the week was good. 

My week was good here too. We worked hard and I learned that sun "block" literally blocks the sun. I always have it in my bag and when I forget to put it on in the morning and begin to feel the sun burning, I just put it on and it is instant relief. Sun block is a blessing. I also learned that when you take your shoes to a shoe repair place to fix the sole, they just put tire on the bottom of your shoe. But it was cheap and the shoes are good again. "Crusty" and ready to work. Good stuff. 

This week we were blessed with the miracle of the baptism of Samuel! He is 9 years old and is the grandson of a recent convert -- Valdenícia. Valdenícia is the one I think I already wrote about. She doesn't hear and reads lips. We have been teaching Samuel for a few weeks. He learns fast and already had lots of friends and an aunt in the church. He stopped drinking coffee with the help of his grandmother. He really just has a pure heart. Of course, he still is a little boy and loves to play and run and yell, haha. But it's all good because really he is humble and willing to follow the Savior. There were a lot of primary children at the baptism as well as some other children who are being taught by the other Sisters here. Valdenícia was soooooo happy and she is very happy as well that this week other members in our ward will go to the temple and do the baptism for her son that passed away. Valdenícia really just glows with the joy of the gospel and is helping many people come to the truth as well. She really is an example that many should follow. 

Sabrina (10) continues to come to church with her neighbors. She wore a beautiful white dress to church yesterday. First time she wore a dress to church! She really is learning and growing. She is always so humble and patient and kind. Especially with her mother who has not given permission yet that she can be baptized. We really want to work a lot with the mom this week that she will give permission and maybe be baptized soon as well. 

This week Sister Costa and I did divisions with the sisters who work in Petrolina Central. I worked with Sister Yopan from Santa Catarina there in the center of the city. The area was a lot more busy -- an environment that I am more used too. I enjoyed the day. I didn't really know what I was supposed to be doing, but I just prayed a lot and tried to help the Sister with what she was needing help with. The Lord showed me and directed me in a little bit of the work there, even though I knew nothing about the people and the city there. We worked a lot on baptism invitations and a recently new key indicator that we have in the mission called "challenges". This key indicator is that we challenge people who have already visited the church to be baptised that very Sunday. When I first heard about this new change, I was hesitant. But with my experiences, I have gained a testimony of this. It really works when you act in faith. We challenged several people to be batized that Sunday. One of them was a woman that we met on the street who had visited the church several times 13 years ago. She stoped going because her brother who was a member passed away. We got to know her a little bit, taught her and challenged her right there on the street. and she accepted a baptismal interview and baptism if they tell her that she is ready. I don't know exactly what happened after but I think the sisters will continue to work with her that she can be baptized in just a little more time.

The calling of a missionary and the authority that a missionary has is truly real. I would never in my life invite and challenge someone that I had just met on the street 30 minutes before to be baptized in just a few days. But when we act in faith and with authority and with the Spirit, we really can see miracles. 

I love being a missionary. It truly is awesome. I love how I feel the Savior so near and can see His hand in our days all the day long. I love The Book of Mormon. It truly is amazing and I would love to just spend the day reading it! Well, as a missionary I can't, but it's interesting that I never felt that desire before, as much as I knew it was true and was grateful for it. Read it! 

I love you all very much. I always pray for you. I wish you a safe and healthy and fun week. Keep choosing the right and be examples to those around you and talk about the gospel with people! 

Much love!

Até mais,

Sister Lauren Olivia Villaroman

Monday, February 25, 2013

Joy in Abrantes

Oi, minha familia e amigos!

Eu amo voces muito!

Guess what? Nilson was baptized yesterday! It was so cool to see. We had stake conference yesterday in Camaçari and two other companionships in my district had baptisms too. We did them all in the same meeting after the conference. Three baptisms for our district this week. It was really cool. We visited Nilson every day this past week to teach him and he always just accepted everything with such faith. He was nervous to be baptized, but he did it. He was baptized by his brother and he actually almost hit his head when he went down into the water. But he said he felt goosebumps after. So cool. He left such a hard life. He already did a lot on his own to change his life, but the gospel I know will help him to continue and be an even better person. What a miracle! I was talking with Sister K after the baptism yesterday and even though I know it is a miracle, it just seems so normal to me that he is baptized. Like it's something I have known for a long time. Interesting. We and the elders made cake for the baptism to make it a little more of a special day. All I can say is, Brazilians like their bolo (cake). 

We have more possibilities so I hope and pray that we can help them develop the faith to change their lives and be baptized too. The branch needs I believe 5 more men before the branch can become a ward and the chapel to start being built. These past couple of weeks they have been building another little building on the church site of the sítio for us to hold our Sacrament meeting in because members were complaining about the heat. I have high hopes for this next transfer that starts tomorrow. 

We heard what was going to happen with the transfer this morning. I will stay in Vila de Abrantes! I am so excited. And ... I will be companions with Sister Costa! She was one of the sisters we stayed with when we went to Santo Antonio for a week and a half. She is so sweet and helpful! She is from São Paulo so I am excited that my portuguese will improve! Yay! I had a feeling I would be companions with a brazilian but I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to communicate effectively enough with her and I wouldn't remember things about this area. But I feel better now and I think this next transfer will be great. Sister Kalamafoni will go to Senhor do Bonfim for her last transfer. I believe President opened up two or three areas for sisters this transfer. We are getting 5 brazilian sisters tomorrow. That's more new sisters in one transfer than this mission has seen in a long time ... maybe even ever. 

Remember the one who has that really really big problem with drinking? We hadn't visited for a little bit but did just really quickly yesterday for Sister K to say goodbye. He still has the desire to be baptized. I feel that we need to completely start over with him. I am willing to try because I know he can stop and I know that we found him for a reason. It will be interesting.

It is still hot here, but it has been rainy. I love the rain! 
English class was small this week. We had to meet outside under a little pavilion this week because the construction people were in the building and everything was all moved around. And it was pouring. And because we were outside, of course most of the people wanted to play soccer instead. Oh well. I guess you just can't take brazilians away from soccer. 

Well, I hope things go well this week. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Love you all.

Até mais.

Com amor,

Sister Villaroman

Many struggles in Abrantes

Oi minha família e meu amigos!

Eu amo vocês! This week was good. I had better health this week and my leg is still healing. Thank you for all the prayers. Today was a good pday. We went with President Hart, our LZ (ZL) and LD (DL) and another elder (believe it or not, I just typed several words in portugues and had to delete; obviously the language is coming along) to ride bikes on a really nice trail in the middle of Salvador. It was beautiful, almost like you weren't in the city. Reminded me of Golden Gate Park too.

So we worked a lot this week. Especially to get people to go to church because we haven't had investigators at church in a few weeks. It's really hard to get people to keep their committments here. This week we had four. It was really nice. Sister Kalamafoni and I also spoke in Sacrament. At least this time we had a few weeks notice. The stake here also did a fast for the missionary work here. I spoke on service. It was nice and I think people understood me a lot better than the time I had to give a talk my first sunday in the field.

Well, I have a story to tell you. So, we had lunch with one family who has several kids in a neighborhood a bit far from us. Sis K usually calls to confirm our lunches but this time we didnt have any more credit on our phone to call people outside our zone and President and Sister Hart. So we showed up at their house and it was obvious that they did not remember. We quickly decided to just share a message with them and ask for a reference. But then we met the brother of the dad that had just moved in with them that morning. We ended up teaching him the third lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ with the family there. It was really nice. We learned a little of his past and have since learned a lot more. He has been clean from drugs and alcohol for a year and some months and is leaving Sao Paulo and his wealth there to leave an area where he had a life of gangs and drug trafficking. He was lucky that he was able to get out, they actually let him pay quite a bit of money to leave that network. Well, he easily accepted a baptism date. He was at church with the family and wants to be baptized this next Sunday! We are praying and working hard to help this actually happen. Next week will be stake conference in Camaçari so we will get to use the font there. What is amazing to me is that in our planning at the beginning of the week we didnt even know him so he wasnt on our list of people to focus on, but by the end of the week, he one of our big focuses. He really has had the hand of God in His life to bring him to this point. The Lord sent the missionaries to him just a few hours after he arrived here in Abrantes. Amazing. We left the house full of the Spirit and just amazed at how God had used us that day to bless this family. During the lesson we learned that the family had been praying to have a missionary experience. And they also had been praying to help their brother/brother in law/uncle. When the mother told us this she spoke of what a miracle it was that the Lord sent the missionaries. By sunday the family had realized that they had forgot our lunch. They felt really bad. We tried to tell them not to feel bad. I also told them that they had given us something better, that our past few weeks had been really difficult and they had given us food for our spirits. I hope they feel better about everything. We've taught a few other lessons to him so far. And I am excited. I hope next week I can write that he got baptized. 

We are also teaching another man who has also stopped drinking coffee. He is still searching for his confirmation about this way, but I think it is going well. What is amazing to me is that he set his mind to stop drinking coffee and he basically did everything on his own (well, with the Lord). He lessened what he drank over time and we taught him here and there while we were focused on some others. But he's also been a big focus of ours lately. It just amazes me when I see the difference of someone who actually does what they say they will without the missionaries trying millions of ways to help them stop, and then someone who is getting all the help in the world and just wont stop. Interesting. 

Well, we met someone last week that I talked about from Paraiba. We taught the Word of Wisdom and learned that he smokes 100 times a day. WOW! How do you have time to do anything else? Well I learned from another elder in our district who was teaching someone with this problem that he broke the cigarette and put the tobacco in a cup of water and had him drink it. He said his investigator didnt end up drinking it. Well, we did the same thing with this investigator. And guess what? Yeah, he was definitely a little sick that night, but now he is down to an average of 3 times a day. Wow. He's got some things to work on, but atleast this helped a bit and hopefully we can continue to help him. 

They did get done with Carnaval this last week. Luckily Abrantes didnt have much of any of it here. There was only a super mini "parade" here where some of the people walked down the street in crazy outfits -- as in the men were dressed in womens clothes. But not too far away is Salvador. Carnaval is crazy. The elders in that area had to stay inside all week, because thats how long this thing lasts. 

English class this week was good. We had 6 people this week and learned ABCs. Hopefully we will get more people this next week. 

Still reading Jesus The Christ. It's still awesome and I'm still loving it. 

This transfer is already winding down. This one is only 5 weeks.  Can't believe I will be done with training and starting my third transfer. Time is flying.  

I love you all and miss you. I hope things are going well. Keep doing good things and remember that every choice counts. Yes, God has a plan for each individual, but the Plan of Salvation is for everyone and we need to make sure we are doing the things that will get us to where we want to go.

Love you and am always praying for you.

Até mais.

Com amor,

Sister Lauren Olivia Villaroman

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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