Monday, June 18, 2018

Week 72 - June 18, 2018

I love my Heavenly Father so much. He is so merciful and willing to help us in anything and everything. Recently we've been having difficulty in bringing a lot of people to church, especially because of the cold and rain. This week we worked our butts off trying to invite and follow up on everyone we could. Sunday morning, we woke up at 5:30, got ready super quick, and went to pick everyone up. Sadly, almost no one went with us. Most of them didn't even come to the door, just kept on sleeping. Luckily, two investigators went with us, which was great, but we'd really prayed and worked to have more. To our surprise, when we arrived at the church, we saw more investigaors waiting for us. We'd asked a member to pick up two investigators, sisters, who live super far away.  These sisters had ended up inviting a bunch of family members and friends who went with them, and 6 people came from that family! Then, out of nowhere, the YW president arrives with a young woman we'd been teaching- and who had wanted to be baptized- but stopped visiting a few weeks before because she'd said she didn't want to go to church anymore. We had no idea, but the YW president went to visit her with some of the YW from the ward to invite her to church one more time, and she went! 
In short, we ended up with a lot more investigators at church that we thought, and almost none of the people that we'd planned to bring. I think the Lord just saw our efforts, he knew we wanted to bring more and that we were willing to sacrifice everything we had to do it, and so we blessed us. It was a great experience for me. If anything, my mission has really shown me that we have to really be willing to sacrifice, pay the price, to show our faith, and afterwards, the blessings come.

In other not-so-good news, our heated shower head stopped working this week, so we're now taking showers in freezing cold water (and we're in the middle of winter here). Actually, I've started heating water up on the stove and taking a shower with a cup and a bucket, but it's much better than cold showers :) 
Well, I love my mission. I love my Savior, more than anything. I love these people. And I love you guys, too.

Sister Coleman

*** Side note from Tiffaney. I have been told about these electric shower heads by  several people who have lived in Brazil as well as some returned missionaries. Many places (at least everywhere Madison has lived) do not have hot water heaters. So either they take cold showers, or they have these electric heated shower heads. Water and electricity don’t make for a good combination. And I’ve heard of many being literally shined while showering. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Week 71 - June 11, 2018

Well, today is yet another transfer day. These transfers are going by way too fast, huh? It seems like yesterday that I wrote that I was transferred to Cristal. My mission is really flying by (so much that I'm now entering in my last transfer of the mission, but we're not gonna talk about that). I'm staying in Cristal, but Sister Coon was transferred- and it looks like she'll be going to Dom Pedrito, one of my old areas! She'll love it, and they'll love her. But I'm sad she's going, she's for sure been one of my favorite comps. I still don't know who my new companion will be, I'll find out in a few hours. I would have liked to train again, but there aren't any new sisters arriving to our mission this transfer, only elders. :(

We had a baptism this week! A teen named Nathaly (pronounced Natalie) for sure one of the Lord's elect. We've actually been teaching her for awhile and wanted to baptize her a few weeks ago, but she went to her mom's house (not our area) for awhile, and she doesn't have a phone, so we had no way to talk to her or know when she was coming back. So at the beginning of this week, we prayed and fasted that she could come back to our area so that she'd be able to be baptized before Sister Coon left. And, because God is wonderfully merciful, we just happened to come back this week and still had the desire to be baptized. Nathaly is super special, I remember that in one of our first lessons with her she said that she'd felt this warm feeling that she couldn't describe when she read the Book of Mormon, and again when she went to church. I love watching people have some of their first spiritual experiences, and even more when they recognize them.

A few other miracles from this week: A couple we're teaching decided to get married and the boyfriend, who didn't want muchto do with the church before, decided that he wants to get baptized with his girlfriend after the wedding. Also, the trucker strike has finally ended! Things are finally back to normal. But not for the long, because the World Cup starts this week, and literally everyone in Brazil loves soccer and treats the world cup games (especially when the Brazilian team is playing) as something sacred. 
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday, and one of the counselors in the bishopric said afterwards, "Your Portuguese is very good, I would give it 99%. But you still have an accent." Well, yeah, okay, I guess I'll kind of have to give up on the dream of speaking without an accent before the end of my mission. But I want to find out what that 1% is, haha.

I think that's it for this week. Tenha uma boa semana!
Sister Coleman

Carpooling to Church

Monday, June 4, 2018

Week 70 - June 4, 2018

This week was FULL of miracles. First, through a lot of prayer and fasting and A LOT of walking, we were able to bring a sizable number of investigators to church, despite the fact that it was FREEZING this Sunday morning (and usually, the ward attendance- of members and investigators- significantly drops in the winter here, because no one wants to get out of bed). We also had a ward activity on Thursday, a ward family night, to which we'd invited all of our investigators. Well, the majority of them said they wouldn't be able to go, but one family (that one that lives in the neighborhood where everyone is of Native American descent) said they would. The three sisters and their mom showed up, but the surprise was that they all brought their boyfriends and some friends and aunts and cousins. We ended up having 14 investigators at the activity! It was so COOL. 

We also started teaching a golden investigator this week. His name is Júlio, his girlfriend is a member, but had been inactive for a few years. He had had some serious problems with substance abuse a few years ago, but his family helped him go to a rehab center that focused a lot on God and religion. When he left rehab, the first thing he wanted to do wanted to do was search for a closer relationship with God. When he told his girlfriend that, she knew it was time for her to come back to the church and bring him with her. And now we're teaching him and they're so cute and I love them so much. I love seeing how the Lord prepares His children to receive the gospel, I think that's been my favorite part of serving a mission.

Oh, also, included in the photos I sent: We found this CRAZY wall of graffiti in our area. Just look at the picture and you'll understand why it's crazy. We think that the artist somehow ended up with a pass-along card and decided to repaint it, but we're pretty sure that he/she had no idea they were painting a scene from the BoM.

The not-so-good part of our week: the trucker strike continues. Luckily it's not affecting us personally, but Jean Bingham (Primary General Pres.) was gonna come to our zone conference, and now she's not because of the food/gas storage :( And apparently the truckers are letting a little bit of gas come into the city so that people can still get to work and such, but there's not enough for everyone, so cars are waiting in lines stretching for like 10 blocks to get to the gas station. A member told us that she stayed overnight for 12 hours in a line to get gas. 12 HOURS YOU GUYS. This really is the apocalypse.

But, it really was a great week. I still love Brazil! I love my mission! I love all of you!
Sister Coleman

Monday, May 28, 2018

Week 69 - May 28, 2018

So, the apocalypse in Brazil has begun.

Photo taken from internet.

Not really, but it feels like it. All the truckers in the country have gone on strike, which may not sound like such a big deal, but it turns out modern society is super reliant on things that are transported by trucks. Like, food and gas and stuff. So there's not more gas at the gas stations. Most people have stopped using their cars. Most of the buses have cut down their hours or have just stopped running all together. Taxi and Uber drivers stopped working. Grocery stores are also running out of bread, milk, and eggs. 
So yeah, things are kinda crazy. But we're fine, we stocked up on extra food, and we just use our legs to go almost everywhere, but it's becoming kind of difficult to get all our investigators to church since a lot of them need rides. And the bus we take to district meetings, which normally passes by every half hour, is now passing by only every hour, so the buses are getting a lot fuller. And for those of you who've never ridden a completely people-packed bus (to the point where you can hardly move your arms), I don't suggest it. But it's kinda good for contacting people, they can't walk away from you.

Oh yeah, and it randomly got crazy cold this week. Which actually makes since, because it's winter, but just last week was still super hot, and then out of nowhere I had to pull out my boots and winter coat and gloves. Sister Coon and I have fallen in the habit of singing Christmas songs, but then we remember that the cold here does not mean Christmas is close, so then we get kind of sad. 

Also, I don't know if any of you remember me talking about Alex and Márcia, a couple from Areal (my last area). We helped them get married and then baptized Márcia, but Alex was still working through some difficulties. Well, I found out that he finally got baptized! About two weeks after I was transferred from the area. I was so happy to hear it, that family is crazy special to me.

I also discovered the name of that language that the people of Native American descent speak hear: Kaigang. Apparently it's spoken by some of the tribes in southern Brazil, but mostly in Rio Grande do Sul. They taught me how to say a few words in Kaigang, but I don't remember any of them.

Well, love you all! Enjoy your available food and gas for me!

Sister Coleman

Monday, May 21, 2018

Week 68 - May 21, 2018

This week was amazing- super hard, but super rewarding. We were having a few difficulties with the ward, trying to involve the members more with our investigators and recent converts and encouraging them to participate more in the missionary work. There were some confusions and complaints from the leadership about some of the people we were teaching, which kinda made us feel like crap for a few days. But Sister Coon and I prayed a lot to figure out how to resolve the problem and gain the trust of the leaders, and we ended up writing a letter to the Bishop, which sounds like something kinda pathetic and not very helpful, but we felt like it was what we should do. As soon as we left the letter at his house, miracles happened. Several members started apologizing for not working with us more and suggested ways that they could help us. The Relief Society President (Carla, one of the best human beings I've ever met) stopped by our apartment to give us cookies and tell us we're loved, and the Bishop called us to say he was sorry for any misunderstanding and that he was very grateful for our work. Then, on Sunday, he gave a talk in sacrament meeting about missionary work, encouraging the members to participate more. I felt so grateful and humble for these leaders and members and the opportunity I have to work with them. They remind me that this really is the church of Christ, and that the more we try to be like Him, the more miracles we'll witness. It was also a very spiritual experience for me, seeing how God is really in the details, inspiring us to write just a simple letter. This work is so wonderful.

Kauã, Junior, and Victoria´s baptism 
Also! I finally got to go to the temple this week...for the first time in more than a year! All my other areas were too far away from the temple, so I was never able to go, but now that I'm finally in Porto Alegre, we get to go once per transfer. It was great, the temple always brings we so much peace. I was surprised to discover that the POA temple is basically identical to the NC Raleigh temple, inside and out. So that was kinda cool, and weird, because it felt like just another youth temple trip.

Porto Alegre Brazil Temple
Pure Joy!
There's this little village/neighborhood in our area with only people of Native American descent that I went to for the first time this week. It was super cool to see, one of the people we were teaching makes and sells baskets and dream catchers for a living. As we were teaching her and her family, her husband walks in and they start arguing in a language that was definitely not Portuguese. (I don't know what tribe they're descended from, so I have no idea what language it was). After the lesson, I said to Sister Coon, "That was so cool! I wish I spoke two languages!" She just kinda looked at me for a minute....

Well, that was my week. Hope y'alls was good too (I'm already practicing my Southern for when I get back.)

Sister Coleman

Cristal - Minha linda e maravilhosa área

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Week 67 - May 16, 2018

Note:  We had such a great visit with sister Coleman on Mother’s Day. She is genuinely joyful and focused on her service. She is doing well, and living her mission.   She also got to attend the temple on Monday, which is why her update is late.  LOVE THIS GIRL!!

What a crazy good week!!! First, we had the baptism of Dhyeron (13) and Sofia (8), a brother and sister who are just the darn cutest. Dhyeron was a street contact, and when the sisters went to his house, they found out that he already knew about the Book of Mormon because his dad was a member that had been inactive for a long time. And that very next Sunday, Dhyeron and Sofia showed up at church with their dad and grandma (also an inative member), all because Dhyeron asked them all to go with him. Ahhh, eleito!! 

And this last week when we were going over the baptismal questions with him, we asked him about the law of chastity, and he pulls out a mini "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet from his pocket (that someone must have given him at church) and turns immediately to the right page to be able to answer. Like, what, this kid is gonna be an amazing member. And future missionary. And probably bishop or mission president or something too. 

Also, on the night of the baptism, we found out that all the child-sized baptismal jumpsuit things (I don't remember what we call them in English) were dirty, so Sofia ended up having to use an adult size and just roll up the pant legs a whole lot. Poor thing. But she just thought it was funny. And after the baptism, both of them were saying, "I feel so light! And clean. What a blessing Baptism is. 

Then, on Sunday, the recent converts and investigators that we went to wake up and take to church took awhile toget ready, so we were gonna be late for church, so we had to call for an emergency ride from a member. Luckily this member is amazing and wonderfully willing to help us, because it was only one car, and like 6 people to bring to church (not including us two). So that was an experience, but we all got to church, which is the important thing :)

Finally, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! I hope all the mothers out there remember how much power and importance and influence you have in the lives of others and in the plan of our Heavenly Father. And I hope the rest of you remembered to thank your moms for everything they do for you. (Speaking of which: thanks Mom! I love you! You're amazing!)

Boa semana por todos vocês! Até mais!
Sister Coleman

Monday, May 7, 2018

Week 66 - May 7, 2018

THIS WEEK WAS AWESOME! Cristal is an awesome area and Sister Coon is an awesome companion and I am just loving it here. A few highlights from this week:

We had 3 baptisms! First, Kauã, 11 yrs old, whose mom never wanted to let him get baptized but we planned a special lesson for her this week and prayed a whole lot and she finally let him. He was so excited, every day during the week when he saw us he goes, "Sisterrrrrsssss, Saturday is my baptism!!!" Then on Sunday morning when we went to walk with him for church, he goes, "When do I get the gift?" We were like, uhh, what gift? "The Holy Ghost! Duhh!!" That kid cracks me up. The other two baptisms were Junior and Vitória, siblings, 15 and 13 yrs old. They're kind of crazy and hilarious, and were gonna get baptized in a few weeks but they already love the church and wanted to get baptized, so yeah, basically a great start to a new transfer.

Also, funny thing this week. Most of our investigators live in two different neighborhoods here, so Sunday morning it would make since to go to one, pick everyone up there, then go with them to the other neighborhood that's closer to the chapel and pick those people up and then we all go to church together, right? Ok, but there's kind of a big drug war going on between these two neighborhoods, so people living in one can't enter in the "territory" of the other or they run a high risk of getting shot. But a lot of the investigators from both are teens or kids, so they can't walk alone to church. So, we literally spent like 30 mins Saturday night trying to strategize how to get everyone to church. We finally came up with what we call our War Plan, because we felt like Captain Moroni or Helaman coming up with all their clever little battle plans. Let's just say the plan involved a lot of walking, getting up super early, and our ward mission leader basically acting as a babysitter for a little while, but it all worked out and we were able to bring a sizeable group of people to church. Totally worth it. The Lord makes things work when we do our part.

Well, that's about it. I LOVE CRISTAL! I LOVE MY MISSION! I love you all too.
Sister Coleman