Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Abrantes


Oi!

Como vai?  I love you all and miss you very much, especially this
holiday season. But I am having a good time here. I have about a week
now in Vila de Abrantes and it has been great. I am starting to get
over the culture shock. The houses have been the biggest shock for me.
Home is a palace compared to these places.

Sister Kalamafoni is my trainer and she is from Portland. We get along
really well and she is teaching me a lot of things. She is also very
encouraging and keeps telling me how great I am doing with the
language. Tomorrow we start speaking all portugues. It will be quite a
change. It's nice to hear her encouragement, especially after people
comment or laugh because they can't understand me. Though I can't
understand much of the language yet, that's one thing I can
understand, unfortunately. But I feel good about it. I am studying
only in my portuguese scriptures and manuals now, and it's awesome!
I'm still translating in my head but one day I will get to the point
where I won't have to do that.

The people of Abrantes are very humble and welcoming, especially the
children. Even though they don't know me, the children will run up and
hug me. Aww, so cute. The members are really nice here. When we eat
lunch with the members, they are always so happy to feed us. So far
it's been really good. We usually have feijoada (spelling?). But it's
a mixture of beans and meat and is served over rice. The fruit is also
really good here and so is the juice (members often serve juice or
guaranĂ¡ because we can't drink the water). Family, I feel you would
really like the feijoada.

We've taught quite a bit of lessons already. I love that through the
gift of tongues I am always able to bear my testimony and to ask the
questions that the Spirit puts into my head. It's wonderful. One
person we teach is a recent convert. He actually owns a bar but is
trying to close it and open a bicycle shop. So when we teach him, we
are usually sitting outside on the sidewalk right outside the bar. A
little ironic. But the church is very young here.

So, yesterday was my first Sunday in the field. The branch is small
but everyone is nice. We meet at a site location under a tent outside.
And yup, I was asked to give a five minute talk in sacrament meeting
yesterday. I had an hours notice. Awesome. In the CTM, we are supposed
to have talks in portuguese ready every Sunday because they call on
people at the beginning of the meeting to give talks. The purpose is
to practice and to have talks prepared for the field. My last week, I
spoke on the atonement. Well, yesterday I forgot my book. So, I had to
prepare one within that hour. I spoke on faith. I used several
scriptures and talked about putting our faith into action. Because
this gospel is a gospel of action, and this church is a church of
action.

That's one thing we need to focus on in this area. Helping people keep
commitments. People here live life and are really laid back. That's
good but not always good for commitments. So mostly, our focus is
getting people to come to church so we can get consistent numbers to
qualify for a chapel.

In addition to teaching lessons, we are focusing on contacts. In our
contacts we mostly just invite people to church and get their address
if they seem really interested. We haven't handed out Books of Mormon
because a lot of people either can't read or don't read.

Well, I am doing really great. It's hot, but I'm loving it. I'm a missionary!


Much Love.

Tchau,

Sister Villaroman


Better late than never

December 4, 2012


Oi, minha familia e meu amigos!

How is everyone? I love and miss you and am always praying for you. Wow! A lot has happened this past week. I don't even know where to start.

Well, Sister Correia left for Recife this morning. I miss her, but I know she will be great. Heavenly Father never wanted two people to be missionary companions more than He wanted us to be companions. I love her and am grateful we were able to learn a lot from each other. The reunion will be glorious and wonderful.

I am now in a trio with two sisters who came from the Provo MTC this week. Sister Campbell from Washington and Sister Bruno from South Carolina. They're nice. We've already taught together and it seems to be going well.

Yesterday was awesome! Why? We went proseliting! FOR REALS! At the CTM, the Americans go proseliting twice. This time we stayed within the CTM boundaries they give us for our P-days and next Monday we will go somewhere else into the city. We each had two Books of Mormon to place, so between my companions and I, we had 6 to place in three hours. It was seriously so amazing! I loved it! We talked to a lot of people in Portuguese! What?! And we placed all 6 livros (books). Before we started, I was super nervous but excited. Once I opened my mouth it was so much easier and all my nerves went away.

One thing I learned is that you need to greet everyone you can and when the Spirit puts an individual in your sight, and you think you should talk to them, then you talk to them! The first one we placed a book with was a woman walking with her two little boys. Initially, she said she didn't really have time. But we took the time to get to know her and her sons. One son was wearing a Santa hat and the other was carrying a bag of pet goldfish. Cute! The woman was really nice. We explained to her a little about it and commited her to reading it with her sons. When we showed her the pictures in the front of the book, she was excited to share with her sons. Then the son in the hat who was maybe 3 or 4, came over and took the book from his mom and walked away looking at the picture of Christ visiting the Americas. It was so precious to watch his little fingers point at the Savior.

I was actually super comfortable initiating contact with everyone. And believe it or not, the first person I actually physically placed a Book of Mormon in their hands was a Jehovah's Witness. We had a really good conversation after he told us he was having a bad day. He committed to reading it and said he knows what it's like to be a missionary. I don't know if these people really will read, but it's just awesome to do the Lord's work. The second person I placed a book with was a Catholic but she didn't own a Bible. She was very grateful and also said she would read it. Another lady we talked to already had one but was a little confused about it. I was able to tell her that Joseph Smith didn't write it, but he translated it from ancient prophet's records. She was excited and grateful when we showed her the page that also listed the books in the Bible and she learned that we use both. She was also confused about the scripture references at the tops of the pages. She didn't understand that those were the names of the prophets. She had talked to many missionaries but nobody had taken the time to explain it to her. She was grateful.

Another lady we talked to also already had one and had also talked to many missionaries. But she still talked to us. Good thing because we were able to clear up that she IS welcome in our church. She lives right next to one too. We committed her to going to church on Sunday and gave her the number to call to find out what time it starts. So many people thanked us for our work. It seriously was so great!

Well, one more week until my CTM experience is over and I will be in Salvador! I can't believe I have been here this long. Time has flown, and I am amazed at the learning that has taken place here with me and with Sister C and with the other elders in my district. I leave December 11 for the field. Today was my last time at the Sao Paulo temple. Sad. But it was wonderful. Because there is no temple in my mission, I won't get to go until I get back home. That means you all have to go as often as you can to help me make up for all that time! :) I don't know when my P-day will be so I'm not sure when I will get to write again. (Dad, I will be able to email.) But know that I am OK because the Lord is with me and I am doing His work -- in PORTUGUESE!

I love you all! Thanks for everything!

Tchau,

Sister Lauren Olivia Villaroman