Thursday, December 18, 2014


Hello, everyone!

I have literally no time to write an e-mail today, and I probably won't write another e-mail next week, so I'll just see you all when I get home!

Sorry I don't have time to write a well thought out sentimental e-mail, but I just want to bare my testimony that I know that this Church is true! This is the Lord's work, and this is the only path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the life to come!

I love you all so much and will see you on Friday!

18 days ... (December 1)

Hello, everyone!

So, this week was crazy pants! My new companion (companion #16) is sister Lusk! She goes home THE SAME DAY AS ME! This is not good for trunkiness! I served in the same zone as sister Lusk in Tennessee, and now we're companions here in Brazil in our last 3 weeks of our mission. Who would've thought?!

So it's been kind of interesting, because we don't have a ton of investigators, (our only progressing investigator was baptized) and the President is going to temporarily close our area in 3 weeks. So, after some careful consideration and prayer, we decided to focus on working with less actives. We have a ward list that is 27 pages long, and at church frequency is less than 100 people. So, there are a LOT of less actives and completely inactives. The bishop was happy when we told him we were going to try to contact all of the people on our ward list to see who moved, who is interested in coming back to church, and in the process find new investigators.

Alex gave a referral a while back for a woman named Luciana. We've been trying to teach her for a while, but it's been kind of hard to find her at home. But, we were able to meet with her this week, and teach her, and she really wants to be baptized. She said that she wants the peace she can see that we have, and that she wants to start a new life. She's super great! We made plans to pick her up for church on Sunday and everything. On Sunday morning, we called her to see if she was ready for us to come pick her up, and she said that she wasn't feeling well and wasn't going to come. We were disappointed, because we knew how much good it would do for her to come to church. Half way through sacrament meeting, a member tapped my shoulder and said there was a visitor in the back of the chapel. It was Luciana! She decided that she wanted to come, and she got dressed, and made it on her own! The sacrament talks were exactly what she needed to hear, and it was awesome!

Yesterday, Alex received the Aaronic Priesthood, and he was so excited! He was the first one at church yesterday! He's awesome!

Our zone leader called us yesterday to tell us that our P-day next week will be moved to FRIDAY! We're going to go ELEVEN DAYS WITHOUT P-DAY!!!! Sister Lusk and I are going to die. After almost 18 months of missionary-ing we're just tired! It's going to be a struggle, but everything will work out! (so my next e-mail will be Friday, Dec 12).
Being a missionary rocks. I'm really going to miss it!

much love,
Sister Pennington

tá doido! (November 24)

Hello everyone!

So this week was great! Alex was baptized! It was super awesome sauce! We followed up carefully with him this entire week, and he was able to quit smoking and was so excited to be able to be baptized! Also, I've already lost 3 kilos! Wahoo!
Alex was baptized!!
We had some trouble filling up the font. When we turned on the water, and GIANT COCKROACH came out of the faucet! Minha nossa! Because we're just 2 wimpy girls, we spent about 30 minutes trying to muster up the courage to kill it. Afterwards, we left the font running, while we left to do some work. A member of the bishopric told us that it took about 2 hours to fill up. We left the water running for just a little bit longer than an hour, and by the time that we got there, the water had already started to overflow and spill all over the chapel. There's no way to unplug the drain and then replug it without getting completely soaking, so we got buckets and started to bail the water out of the font. It certainly was an adventure :)

In the end, and what's actually important, Alex was able to finally take this step that he had been wanting to take for so long. It was a great baptismal service, and without a doubt, he felt the spirit!

Things are going great here, we're gaining the members' trust, and we're even getting a lot more referrals than we had in the past! Sister Carranza and I work awesome together, and I love her to bits and pieces. And, as I have learned from almost 18 months of missionary experience, the Lord never lets us get too comfortable. Sister Carranza will be transferred tomorrow, and I'll finish up my 3 more weeks of missionary service with another sister.

I was very surprised and saddened that Sister Carranza will be leaving, but I suppose that it's just one more experience to grow.

I love all of you to bits and pieces, and hope that your week is a wonderful one! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sister Pennington

1 more month! (November 18)


Yet another great week!

We didn't have P-day yesterday because of our interviews with the mission President, so we have P-day today! It's going to be a great one!

We have some great investigators who have lots of potential, but the areas we're working in are pretty far from where the members of the ward live. We're trying hard to work with the members, so we're going to start working more in the areas where they live. We're going to do some exploring this week, it seems. It's going to be great!
Sister Pennington and her companion
We found a cool investigator this week named Cenida. She's  member of the Congregação Cristã no Brasil, which is a really strict evangelical church, and it's part of their church doctrine that women can't cut their hair. The funny part is that Cenida cuts hair for a living. #irony

We have an adorable investigator, Lavinha, who's 9 years old, and the niece of the Relief Society president here. She loves to read the Book of Mormon, and she's super smart! She remembers everything about the story of Nephi and Lehi and it's just stinkin' adorable. I think I'll just teach children for the rest of my mission. They just get it!
Sister Pennington being silly ;)
Alex was not baptized this week. But, we made some goals with him, and some specific plans, and we announced his baptism for Saturday to the entire ward. I really have faith in him that he will be able to be baptized this Saturday, but even if he doesn't I know for sure that we did our part. Last week we went to his house every single day, tried to help prepare him, and we're going to do the same thing this week. We prayed and fasted and studied and prayed some more for this guy. One of the things that I've learned on my mission, is the value of just 1. The Good Shepherd truly leaves the ninety and nine in the search of the one. I feel honored to be enlisted in that search.

I love this gospel, and I love being a missionary!

Até logo!
Sister Pennington

Monday, November 10, 2014

A wonderfual week in Jaguariúna (November 10)

Hello, everyone!

We had yet another wonderful week here in Jaguariúna!

A fantastic member fixed our shower for us, so luckily the bucket shower situation has been resolved. But, on Friday we found the evidence of rat in our house, so we cleaned everything from top to bottom in search of this creature, and we found his home (behind the washing machine), but he was not present...will have to find him later...

We're working hard, and SUPER TIRED! I don't think I've ever been so tired in my whole life! On Saturday, we explored a new neighborhood, and tried to contact some less active members and find some new investigators. Man we were so tired by the end of the day, we had the crazy laughs and couldn't stop! We were trying to teach a less active, and we just couldn't stop laughing! But, as we know, "men are that they might have joy" :)

Alex is going to wait another week to be baptized. He has trouble with smoking, so we're trying to help him quit before his baptism. We tried EVERYTHING! But I did something this week that worked but I almost instantly regretted. I promised Alex that if he quits smoking I'll loose 4 kilos. I have trouble still with the conversion between pounds and kilos, and so it wasn't until I got home and did the math that I realized that it's almost 9 pounds! #diet #exercise #boo. BUT, Alex went 3 days in a row without smoking!!!! Wahoo! Everything is all set up for this Saturday, and we're going to stop eating 3 bowls of ice cream with our lunch!

It was a great week, and I'm just so grateful for the opportunity that I have for the next 39 days to be a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! There's nothing better!

Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Sister Pennington

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ola! [November 3]

A reunion of Sister Pennington's MTC district in the bus station
Hello, my family!

So this week was CRAZY PANTS!!! We had emergency transfers in the middle of the transfer, and Sister Mitillo left! Guess who's my new companheira? Sister Carranza! We lived in the same house in Valinhos. She's AWESOME! I absolutely love this sister! She's great!

Our sketchy electrical shower is shocking us now, so we have to take bucket showers until someone can come fix it. Also, we don't have light in the bathroom, so last night I took a bucket shower by the light of a flashlight ... It was pretty rustic.

We promised an investigator if she visited the church, we would visit her church. It was interesting. There was a ceremonial dance with women in purple robes, so that was fun.

Nobody was baptized this weekend, but we marked for next week with Alex, and I think this one will work out ... We just need to go there are "quebrar as pernas dele" a little bit, as they would say here in Brazil. But, it will all work out :) We have an "investigator" who was baptized before I got here, but never went back to church, and so was never confirmed. We never found him at home, and he didn't respond to our calls, but yesterday, we went after church to visit him with the bishop, AND HE WAS HOME! We talked for a while with him and his wife (who is also a recent convert, and has stopped coming to church) and they told us their worries, and they reasons for not going back to church, and we sorted it all out, and they said that they're going to come to church on Sunday, and we marked another visit during the week. It was so cool talking with Mauricia about why she had decided to be baptized. She said that she had always wanted to be with her husband and daughter forever, but didn't know how it was going to happen. She said that when the sisters taught the plan of salvation, she just started to cry, because she understood how families could be together forever. She is so excited to prepare to go to the temple and be sealed to her family.
Sister Carranza with Cicero and Marlei
 The sky is blue. This gospel is true.

Sister Pennington

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hello! (October 27)

This week was an adventure! It was so great!

It finally rained here in São Paulo! We're still in a drought, but at least it's something!

My companion was bitten by a dog this week! (luckily it was a little one and probably didn't have rabies...but she is kind of weird, so I don't know for sure... :)

We went to the temple with an investigator! It was awesome! He's been taught for a long time, and he's had several baptismal dates that have fallen through, but we were teaching him about the atonement in the temple, and invited him to be baptized this Saturday, and he said that he really wanted to, and he knows that the gospel is true and "can't run anymore".  Haha - I love being a missionary! Investigators are great!

We're have a bunch of really promising investigators! We have 2 baptisms marked for this Saturday, and 3 confirmations for this Sunday! It's going to be a real busy week!
Bishop Antonio and his family (Valinhos)
We had lunch with a member this week, Anderson, who is awesome. He absolutely LOVES missionary work! His son is currently serving a mission in Rio de Janeiro. He was talking to us during lunch about how much he loves having us in his home because it makes him miss his son just a little bit less. He said that the absolute greatest sacrifice that he has ever made for the gospel was that of letting his son serve a mission.

I know that for some of you, (mom and dad) it's been tough to have me gone, but I just wanted to thank all of you for allowing me this opportunity. I've never had a greater honor in all my life than to wear the badge with the name of Christ on my chest. I love being a missionary

Sister Pennington

Jaguariúna (October 20)

Hello, family!

I'm here in Jaguariúna! It's a little city about half an hour away from Campinas. The ward here is pretty small, but it seems great!

There are 2 companionships of sisters here, me and my companion Sister Mitillo from Argentina, and the other companionship Sister Kariery from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, and Sister Garibay from Peru. Sister Mitillo has 5 months on the mission, and I had already done a companionship exchange with her when I was in Itatiba. She's really great, so I'm excited to work with her!

Just a side note before I talk about missionary related things - it's so flippin' hot! Holy cow! The poor sisters in Valinhos don't have any fans, and my last night there, it was so hot that I dampened my sheets and put them in the freezer and took them out at night and slept with them. It was marvelous. I've started to always keep my sheets in the freezer. #brazilianmissionaryproblems

Things are going well in my new area! I love serving in smaller wards, and so I'm super excited to be able to serve here! We have some very promising investigators, so I'm excited to be able to work with them. We have a LOT of less active members we're working with, which is one of my very favorite parts of missionary work so I'm just a happy camper :)

The Bishop here has 4 months of being bishop, and ALL of the priesthood and auxiliary presidencies were reorganized, so we have a lot of new people who are really excited. Our ward mission leader made a presentation for the ward leadership about their responsibilities concerning missionary work, and it was awesome sauce. It was probably the most organized, direct and comprehensive explanation of ward leadership responsibilities I've ever had on my mission. Hoping it will get people excited about missionary work!

Anyways, it's been a great first week here, and I'm excited to be here a little bit more!

I love you all so much, and hope that you have a truly wonderful week!

Sister Pennington

"Wow! I've Always wanted one of these!" (October 13)


This week was great! We had a zone conference that was awesome in Campinas, and President Perrotti's training was so inspired, and I know that it was exactly what I needed to hear! It was great!

We explored a new neighborhood this week! It is in the middle of NOWHERE! But we talked with a bunch of people who live there, and the other missionaries here in Valinhos passed a bunch of referrals to us of people who live there. So we got on the bus and 40 minutes later we arrived in the middle of the jungle with dirt roads! We tried to find some addresses with our map, but because it's such a middle of nowhere neighborhood, the map wasn't up to date. So, we asked a lady in the street to help us, and she said, she didn't know where the street we were looking for was, because we were looking for an address in Valinhos, and we were in Itatiba! We went so far to the edge of Valinhos, that I accidentally ended up back in Itatiba! Oops :)
Sister Pennington and her companion with members of the ward.
We eventually found the adresses we were looking for, and we found an amazing couple, Andrea and Marcelo! We taught the message of the restoration to them, and they absolutely loved it! They've already started Reading the Book of Mormon and are loving it!

We found another awesome investigator, Douglas, a 21 year old guy. He says that he's been searching for the truth, and he has so many great questions! He's awesome sauce!
Sister Pennington and the newest member of the ward :)
We take the bus a lot, and while we're waiting for our bus we talk with people in the bus station, invite them to learn more about the church etc. Generally these people are friendly, but they're not usually super stoked to talk to us. Well, the other day, we were talking with people in the bus station, and after I finished talking with someone, a woman waved to me and asked for me to come over and talk to her. I looked behind me to see if there was someone else she was talking to. But no, it was me! I looked down to see if I'd forgotten my name tag, but no, I was a clearly recognizable missionary. I talked with this lady for a while, and gave her a Book of Mórmon, and she got so excited and said, "Wow! I've Always wanted one of these!". She gave us her address and phone number, and we're going to visit her soon :) The Lord is preparing the hearts of the people to receive our message!

If there's one thing that I've learned on my mission, it's that the Lord knows best, and He Always leads us to where we need to be. Just as things here in Valinhos are starting to get going guess what happens? TRANSFERRED! Both me and Sister Galarza are being transferred, and Sister Alexandre and Sister Carranza are going to take over the responsibilities of our área. Heavenly Father never ceases to surprise me or test me. But, I really have gained a testimony of the fact that if we're obedient to the invitation of the Savior to follow Him wherever He goes, and do what He asks, we'll be able to be happy and have Peace knowing that we're where the Lord wants us to be. There's really not a better feeling in all the world :)
P Day at a local park - açaí and coconut water! yum!
I love you all so much and hope you have a wonderful week! I'm excited for my new adventure!

Sister Pennington


Hello, friends and family!

This week was awesome! Want to know why?! Because I left the house and was able to work! It was so great! And, it was GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!! It was so awesome sauce!

For those of you who didn't watch it, REPENT AND WATCH IT!!!! It was so good!

We watched conference in the chapel, and because there are 4 American missionaries here in Valinhos, we were able to watch in on a member's laptop in ENGLISH! It was amazing! I understand everything in Portuguese, but it's super irritating to watch the apostles and prophet speaking and being unable to hear their familiar and comforting voices. But, this time we had our "English only" room and it was super legit :)
Sister Pennington and the Bishop's wife Cristiane
There were so many amazing talks, and I loved all of them, but my favorite was dear Elder Bednar's talk. It was about missionary work (so obviously it was awesome). He directed the message to people who are not members of this church. The basis of his talk was the question, "why do my Mormon friends always want to invite me to hear more about their church?" He explained why we share the gospel with our friends. He read an excerpt from Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8:12 which describes the scene when Lehi partakes of the fruit of the tree of life, and he sees how good it is, and just wants to share it with everyone who will partake. It's the same thing with the gospel. When we partake of the goodness of the fruit of the tree of life, or the atonement of Jesus Christ, we just want to share it with everyone. That's why I'm here, and that's why I love being a missionary. I invite all of you who have experienced this same joy in the gospel to share it with others, and I invite all of you who haven't to "come and see".

Sister Pennington

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hello! (September 29)

So last week wasn't the coolest week ever, but this next week is going to be great! I had "suspect of Dengue" and was in my bed from Monday to Saturday. But I rose from the dead and I feel a lot better now! (I think it may have been just a diferente vírus with symptoms similar to Dengue)

I learned how to solve a rubik's cube, so that was cool.

I also watched the restoration vídeo in Chinese, and didn't understand anything. [The link is not in Chinese ;)]

I watched the testaments in Italian and understood a lot. Italian and Portuguese are pretty similar (apparently!)

One of the symptoms of Dengue is pain behind the eyes, so I could only stand reading for about 15 minutes and then I had to sleep again.

But, I was feeling good enough to go to church on Sunday, so we went to church and went back to watch the broadcast of the women's conference! It was awesome! I absolutely loved all of the talks! President Uchtdorf and some of the other sisters who spoke mentioned the importance of remembering who we are. We are sons and daughters of God. If that knowledge is Always in our hearts, our actions, attitudes and thoughts will be influenced for good. We will be more dedicated disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will want to do all we can to serve as witnesses of God at all times in all things and in all places.

Remember who you are! Romans 8:16

Sister Pennington

Hello :) (Septeber 22)

Hola família :)

This week was good :)

here are some of the highlights...

- We went to a park for p-day - we played fútebol like true Brazilians and that was fun. The not so fun part, was that my companion got 6 tics! yikes!
- We found some really legit new investigators! It'll be cool to follow up with them this week!
Sister Pennington and some of the members of the ward she loves :)

- We found the craziest less active member I've ever met in my life! Holy cow! We've been trying to visit her for a long time, but she's never home when we try to visit her. But this week, we walked in front of her house, and saw that the door was open, so we knocked to see if we could visit her. Her son let us in, and we found her in the kitchen sorting through some papers. We greeted her, and she didn't stop to look at us. We started talking to her, and very quickly we came to realize that she didn't want to talk to us. She told us that if she had to choose between God and Satan, she would choose Satan because it would be more fun to tempt and provoke people...haha we left quickly from that house :)
- Heavenly Father is so merciful with us! Sunday night we were on our way home, super hungry, and remembered that we had nothing in our house to eat. We got a ride with a member, and without us even asking, she made food for us :) We were very happy :)
Sister Pennington and the Bishop's wife

But, that's about all the excitement we had this week! It's awesome being a missionary and having the opportunity to share the gospel with Heavenly Father's children here in Brazil! The gospel is true! It changes lives!

I love y'all so much and hope you have a marvelous week!

Sister Pennington

Oi (September 15)


This week was a little bit crazy pants! We had two days that were super weird. On Wednesday, Sister Galarza got sick, and so we went to the hospital to see what was up. It turns out that she can't eat milk, citrus, anything fried, anything with sauce, or gluten. She can only eat healthy things! Tadinha dela :)

Thursday, a member called us sobbing saying that she was super sick, and home alone with her 2 year old grandson, and that she didn't have the energy to do anything. So we went over to her house, and ended up spending the whole day with her helping her clean dishes etc. We called every member we could, but nobody could come and help. It was a little disheartening, because we asked this Irmã who her visiting and home teacher were, and she said she had no idea because nobody visits her. She is a widow working alone to support her daughter and grandson. And nobody visits her? That's just crazy pants. Needless to say, yesterday Sister Galraza and I got the Visiting Teaching list and we're going to do visits with the Irmãs this week :) #doyourvisitingteaching

Last night was the highlight of my week! It was awesome! We had a family home evening in a member's home, and there were so many members there! But before we went to the family home evening, we felt like we should visit Maria Eduarda. She's been sick for the past two weeks, and we haven't been able to see her. On our way to her house, we passed by the house of Marcelo, Marilsa's nephew. We talked with Marcelo a little bit, and then he told us that Marilsa was there as well. We went to say a quick hello, and found Marilsa eating dinner with her mom. Marilsa already has a testimony. She loves the church, and really wants to be a part of it. But her 2 main concerns were that she had a severe addiction to coffee, and that her mom doesn't approve. But last night, Marilsa was able to see her mom interact with us, and she really does like us a lot. She offered us dinner, and we were even able to say a prayer with her. Marilsa was so happy to see that her mom treated us well, and is very friendly towards us. Marilsa also informed us that she hasn't had coffee in 5 days! She said she feels so much better and she doesn't even miss it! She's so excited about everything, and she radiates the joy she feels from the gospel. I just love her to bits and pieces!

Things are going well here, we're workin', teachin' and havin' a good time :)

Love you all so much, and hope you have a wonderful week!

See you soon! (95 days...but who's counting?!) [Sister Pennington will be home December 19!!]

Sister Pennington

Monday, September 8, 2014

7 missionaries for Bela Vista! (September 8)

Hello, everyone!

So, we now have 11 missionaries here in Valinhos, 7 of which are in my Ward - Bela Vista! aí sim, Bela Vista!

We have another companionship of sisters in our Ward, Sister Alexandre from Bahia, Brasil, and Sister Carranza from Argentina (she was serving in the other Ward here in Valinhos, but moved to Bela Vista), and the Elders are in a trio! Lunch with the members is like thanksgiving every day because of the ridiculous amount of missionaries!

We divided our área with the other sisters, and it's such a good thing! It was so hard to follow up with people, because our área was so big. Now we only have 4 or 5 diferente neighborhoods, and it's a little bit easier now.

Marilsa is so adorably awesome! We taught her on Tuesday, and she made a delicious chicken salad in little cracker boats! It was so cute! Her husband, Roberto, is super hard to find at home, but he was there and he is so open to the gospel and so supportive of Marilsa. The last time we taught them together, we challenged them to pray about the Book of Mormon to know if it really is true. When we asked Marilsa how her prayer went, Marilsa said, "I have absolutely no doubt it's true". She was just smiling from ear to ear, and I could feel the power of her testimony. It was so awesome! Roberto said they were both going to stop drinking coffee. They went to church yesterday, and just loved it :) Before we left, Roberto said he wanted to ask a question. He asked us when the temple is open for visits. We're going to plan a day this week to go with all of them to the temple :) It's going to be awesome!

Fast and testimony meeting was awesome. It was kind of cool, because at the end, all of us missionaries went up to the stand and bore our testimonies. It was really cool. The ward is getting super excited about missionary work, and I hope we can help in whatever way we can :)

I love you all so much, and hope you have a wonderful week!
Sister Pennington

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ola! (September 1)

Hello, everyone!

They're playing Nickelback in this internet café's literally been 14 months since I've heard them ... just a little bit distracted, but tudo bem, vamos lá!

Anyways, this week was good! We had some adventures, as always, and it was great.

The first adventure that wasn't super fun ... I got food poisoning! Wahoo! I spent an entire day in bed, which was kind of horrible, but, seeing as it was really just food poisoning, after that one day, I was completely back to normal :)

Funny story - Cicero, our elect investigator, has gone to church 3 Sundays in a row. He's awesome. He's super over the top in everything. He's super energetic and just a little bit crazy pants. He called us on Saturday, and when I answered the phone, he shouted, "SANTOS DO ÚLTIMOS DIAS!!!!" or, Latter day saints!!!! I thought it was a pretty comical way to greet someone on the phone. I laugh a lot when we teach that man. He's fantastic!

The 5 progressing investigators we're working really hard with all came to church this Sunday! Wahooo! I don't know if I talked a lot about Marilsa, but she is so awesome! She's been taught by the missionaries for a long time. She had a lot of emotional problems, but she was introduced to the gospel by her nephew who is a member, and after she started to read the Book of Mormon and going to church, her life got so much happier. She feels so much peace and comfort from reading the Book of Mormon, and she truly loves the gospel. We're helping her get ready for baptism and she's just great. She has a super addiction to coffee, and so we're trying to help her stop. She said that after we challenged her to stop drinking coffee, it doesn't have the same taste anymore. She said that "it tastes like sin."  I laughed about that one, but at least God is going His part in helping her with her addiction :)

A few months ago, we started teaching Marilsa's brother, Claudio, and his family. They need the gospel so much. They are looking for peace and looking for something to help their family become stronger. They've grown so much since we started teaching them. When we first met Claudio he was super gruff and didn't want a whole lot to do with us, but he looks forward now to our visits, and a few weeks ago he promised that he would go to church on the 31 because the other Sunday's before he had appointments. We left a big post-it with them that said "31 de Augusto - seu compromisso com Deus na igreja" - which means August 31 -you're appointment with God at church. And guess what?! He actually went to church with his wife and son. They arrived so early, that they got there even before we did! Wahoo! They're a great family that is already changing and growing because of the power of the gospel.

It's such a blessing to be working with so many wonderful people! I love being a missionary!

We have transfers this week, and Sister Galarza and I are staying here together for another transfer. But the cool part, is that we're going to get another companionship of sisters here in the ward, so we're going to divide our area! It's going to be SUCH a blessing! Our area is huge, and it's going to be a lot more productive to divide the area! I'm super excited!

Anyways, I love you all so much and hope that you're doing well! Have a great week!

Sister Pennington

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Maria Eduarda (August 25)

This week was good, lots of good stuff happened, but all paled in comparison to Maria Eduarda's baptism! It was possibly one of my very favorite experiences of my mission!

So here's the story...

We had everything all set up to interview Maria Eduarda for baptism on Saturday, and talk to her about who she wanted to give the talks and what hymns she wanted. But, and hour before the interview, her mom called us and said that they were in Campinas and wouldn't make it back in time. And that's when I started to panic just a little bit. I got just a little bit worried that Duda's mom didn't want her to be baptized (she's been inactive in the church for years). But, they said that they would go to the church early to do the interview, so it was all good. But we forgot to ask Maria Eduarda about the program and when we tried calling back, nobody responded. We later called our ward mission leader and just about every member in the ward to help up organize the baptism, but NOBODY RESPONDED and we started panicking just a little bit more. We even called the other sister in Valinhos just to see if it wasn't our phone that wasn't working. But, sadly, they answered and we discovered that just all the members were busy. We went to a member's house and asked them if they could fill up the baptismal font so that it could be ready for the next day, and they said no problem. So that was good. After we got home, we stayed up to midnight making the program and making a cake to eat after the baptism...It was a good time :)

Sunday morning we called and called Duda to see if she was on her way to the church and she didn't answer. But just before we got super worried, she called and said she was on her way. We got to church, and the missionary who was supposed to interview her was late, so we had to do the interview after sacrament meeting. With all of the stress and confusion, we didn't even think to check the font, but the member came up to us after sacrament and said they forgot! So we had to clean and fill the font during Sunday school so that it could be all ready for the service after church.

But in spite of all of the craziness and last minute set backs, Maria Eduarda was baptized and it was amazing.

Maria Eduarda is so special, and has such a sweet spirit. She loves the gospel, and is a strong influence for good in her family. Her mom and her brother were both less active, but her brother started coming back to church, and yesterday, the same day as his sister's baptism, he received the Aaronic Priesthood. And for the first time in years, her mom came back to church. Right before the baptism, her sister, Mariana, opened her mission call. She's going to Chile. In her talk at the baptism, Mariana thanked Mariana for being an example to help her family come closer to their goal of going to the temple. Her brother said the closing prayer at the end of the service, and he thanked the Lord for his family, and the gospel. The whole family was crying, and you could see the light of the gospel shine brighter in their eyes.

This is why I decided to serve a mission. To give families this wonderful opportunity to be blessed by the gospel. The very first principles we teach as missionaries are that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that the gospel blesses families. I have gained a testimony of these truths while on my mission, and am so privileged to be able to share them with others.

I love you all and hope you have an amazing week

Carlos (duda's brother), Sister Pennington, Mariana (with her mission call in hand), Maria Eduarda, Sister Galarza and Duda's mom

Oi, gente! (August 18)

Hello, everyone!

First and foremost, I want to give a big shout out to my very first companion, SISTER SPENCER FOR GETTING HER VISA!!!! She's finally going to come down here to Brazil! I'm so excited to see her again! I hope I can be her companion again! I love that sister to bits and pieces!

Also, Sister Howell sent an e-mail this week letting me know that Denusia was baptized! Denusia was the amazing investigator we had in Barão Geraldo we took to visit the temple! It's so cool to know that the work we did helped her to be baptized in the end. I forgot to e-mail about it, but Leni was also baptized from Barão shortly after we left. It makes me so happy!
All the sisters in Valinhos
Anyways, this week was good.

Here are some highlights...

- Maria Eduarda is the cutest little human the Heavenly Father has ever created. She called us during the week just to see how we were doing, and to tell us that she wrote a little talk that she wanted to show us during our next lesson. She had visual aids and everything. It was pretty stinkin' adorable. If only all of our investigators were cute 10 year old girls.... :) She's going to be baptized this Sunday :)
- Cicero came to church yesterday! He already looks like a member! He's so prepared, and so excited to continue learning more about the gospel. He's the most energetic 70 year old I know! He's great!

We had a great training yesterday with the stake president, all of the missionaries and the Ward leadership. It was super great, and the theme was that "missionary work" is really not an auxiliary to the church, or a separate organization. It should be the focus of EVERY organization and auxiliary in the church. It was awesome! Missionary work is so important, both for those doing the work, and those whom they serve. Always look for ways to share the gospel, and serve others. Study Preach My Gospel! It's not just for missionaries!

Love you all so much, and hope you have a wonderful week full of missionary opportunities!

Sister Pennington

Hey, everyone! (August 11)

Hope everyone had a great week!

We found some AMAZING investigators this week!

I wrote about Cicero last week, the man we made a contact with that had already read the Book of Mormon, D&C and Jesus the Christ. He is so amazing, and absolutely loves the gospel. We taught him and his family this week, and he is just loving it. He even told us that he know it's all true, and he had so much knowledge of the gospel, that instead of us teaching the Plan of Salvation, he taught it to his grandchildren that were with us in the lesson. He is awesome, and is praying for a date to be baptized :)

We found an adorable little investigator, Maria Eduarda, who's 10 years old. Everyone in her family is already a member, but her mom is less active, and so for that reason she hasn't been baptized yet. But she's super adorable and wants to be baptized, and her mom is wanting to return to church, so Maria Eduarda is going to be baptized in 2 weeks. He older sister is waiting for her mission call, and should receive it in a few weeks, so the plan is to have Mariana open her mission call the same day as Maria Eduarda's baptism. It's going to be super cool :)

We have another investigator, Marilsa who is so great! She's been taught FOR EVER and she LOVES the gospel. She loves the Book of Mormon, and talks with everyone about how it helped her emotionally and spiritually get through some trials in her life. She knows the gospel is true, and she wants to be baptized (is even starting to look for a dress), but she has some complicated family issues, and so is going to wait for a little bit. But, she went to church on Sunday, and her countenance just glows. You can tell the difference the gospel has already made in her life.

Yesterday was Father's Day here in Brazil, so naturally our lunch after church was the classic Brazilian "Churrasco", or BBQ, which really just means lots of meat, so it was good eatin'! Also, Happy Father's Day, Dad! I thought about you yesterday even though it wasn't Father's day in the States or in the UK...But happy Father's Day anyways! I love you all the way to my back!

Workin' hard! Learnin' alot! Life is great!

Hope y'all have a great week!
Sister Pennington

Oi, gente! (August 4)

Hola, família!

Hope y'all had a great week! My week here was good :)

This area really is great! I love serving here and hope I get the chance to serve here a little bit longer!

I had a few experiences this week that reinforced one of the most importante lessons I've learned on my mission. This lesson is eloquently summarized in D&C 18:

"Remember, the Worth of souls is great in the sight of God"

This week, we made a contact with an older man in the street. He was smiling from ear to ear. We talked with him about the church a little bit, and he told us that he already knew the church. He had already visited several times, had read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Jesus the Christ. He even asked us if we could get some extra copies of Jesus the Christ to give to his friends. We got his address and will go visit him this week.

We found a family this week, relatives of an investigator, who need the gospel so much. We found this Family in the midst of a time of trials, and were able to share the glad message of the gospel with them. They were so grateful for this message.

I'm amazed every single day, at the miracles I am able to see. This really is the Lord's work, and he is preparing people to hear about the gospel, and He puts them in our path (or us in their path) so that they might have the opportunity to hear about the gospel. It is such a blessing, and I am so grateful to be a part of this great work!

God is great!

Love you all so much, and hope you can recognize the miracles God puts in your path this week!

Sister Pennington

P.S. sorry if there are any weird spelling mistakes, the computer here is auto-correcting to Portuguese...)

Valinhos (Sião) (July 29)

Hola, família!

Valinhos is straight up awesome sauce. I love everything about this city, my area and this Ward. The members here are INCREDIBLE! They made me feel at home from the first second, and even more, they are so excited about missionary work, and they have great ideas and plans and carry them out. It's awesome! They aren't scared to share the gospel with their friends! It's awesome! I've actually met some members here that I KNOW I've seen before. I'm definitely very blessed to be here in Valinhos :)

Anyways, Valinhos is part of the Campinas Zone, and about 20 minutes from the Temple in Campinas, so that's pretty sweet :) We were able to go today to the temple, and it was just awesome. There are 2 wards in this city - Bela Vista (where I'm serving) and Nova Suíça. There are 2 elders and 2 sisters in each Ward.

Sister Pennington and Sister Galarza at the temple

Sister Galarza is my new companion. She was in my zone in my first area, and so I'd already met her. She's awesome. She's from northern Argentina. She joined the church 2 years ago with her sister who is serving a mission as well in Fortaleza, Brazil. She has such a strong testimony of the gospel, and a profound understanding of the doctrines of the church. It doesn't even seem like she's a convert of only 2 years. It's going to be great working with her!
All of the sisters in Valinhos
We met a bunch of very interesting children of God this week...

We taught the first lesson to an older lady. We walked into her house and it smelled TERRIBLY of litter box. At first I only saw 2 cats, but the closer I looked, the more cats I found hiding in the shelves, in piles of clothes etc. They all had the crazy cat eyes that look like they're going to murder you and then eat you. There were 6 cats all together, and then the further we went into her house, we found 7 dogs and 2 bunnies....yep. That's real life :)

Probably the craziest experience of my mission so far...

We had a few minutes between appointments, so we decided to knock some doors (Always an interesting experience). Anyways, so we found this lady who let us in, and we talked with her for a while. She's a very dedicated and active member of her church. She asked a lot of questions about the Book of Mormon and other things, and as we talked with her, we came to find that she wasn't very interested and just wanted to debate, so we asked her if we could say a prayer with her, and we did. We were getting ready to leave, and she asked us if she could say a prayer with us, "in her own way". Of course we agreed. I already knew what was coming because she told us at the beginning of our visit the name of her church, and I had heard stories from other missionaries about their prayers, but we just went with it anyways. So this lady led us into her basement, shut all of the Windows and curtains and grabbed her veil (because in her church women can't pray without a veil). And she started to pray, and later invited us to kneel down for her to continue her prayer. Her prayer lasted half an hour, during which, she started shouting and crying and "speaking in tongues". It was bizarre to say the least. But of course we claim the privilege to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all people the same privilege .... but it was flippin' weird ...We didn't really know what to say at the end, so I just bore my testimony about the Book of Mormon and left her with a copy...what else can ya do :)

Anyways, It really was an awesome week and I'm so excited to share the gospel here in Valinhos. It's going to be a great transfer!

Love you all! Have a great week!

Sister Pennington

Monday, July 28, 2014

sketchy Brazilian electrical work ... (July 21)

Hello, everyone!

So Brazilian electrical work is just straight up sketchy...let me explain why.

They don't have water heaters, and so they heat up the water in the shower head with wires from the wall. Sketchy right? I always thought it was kind of weird that they had showers like that, but it didn't ever cause any problem, so I just kind of went with it. What happened? Last Monday night when I was taking a shower, the wires started sparking and everything caught on fire. So we were left without a shower for 4 days. How did we take showers, you might ask? Sister Pennington woke up at 5 to heat up 3 pots of water to put in a bucket and take showers old school. Yep. It happened :) Luckily, we got one of the young men from the ward to fix the shower for us, so hopefully we won't die in the near future...

Anyways, it was a super busy week! We taught A LOT of lessons this week, but we're having trouble finding people who are truly interested in progressing in the gospel. But we'll find them, for sure :)

We have a less active member who had surgery this week to remove some gall stones, so we went to the hospital almost every day this week. Visiting hours are only at 2, but because we're "clergy" we got to go whenever we wanted. We were VIPs, so that was pretty cool :)

Sorry this e-mail is so scattered, but my brain is not really working super great right now. I'm getting transferred on Tuesday, and it's kind of crazy pants! Sister Acevedo is getting transferred as well. I've been here for such a long time, and I've gotten to know the members pretty well and the area pretty well too, and now I'm going to leave! It's going to be a good adventure where I'll go, for sure, but it's always a little bit nerve-raking literally not knowing were I'm going to be tomorrow. Also, I have no idea how I'm going to fit all of my things in 3 suitcases...

But, if I've learned anything in my mission, it's that the Lord ALWAYS knows best, and that we're sent to each area with each companion for a specific reason. We always have something to learn, something to improve and something to give. I left my heart and soul here in Itatiba. I did everything I know how to help this area, and especially the ward leadership. I hope that I made a difference here, because this ward has certainly made a difference in me. I'm excited to go where the Lord sends me tomorrow. It'll be an adventure!

Lots of love,
Sister Pennington

hello! (July 14)

Hello, everyone!

Hope y'all had a good week! My week was pretty great! The world cup is finally over!!!!! Wahooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Argentina didn't win so all of Brazil is calm! We can go back to normal missionary life now!

Vera was confirmed yesterday, so that was great :) We've been following up with her, and teaching the lessons after baptism, and she has so much faith it's just incredible. She has a lot of questions, and loves to study the gospel. She's a super star!

We found 2 really cool families this week! The first family, is Adriana and Francisco, who are just stinkin' adorable! Adriana is 4 months pregnant and just the cutest thing in the whole world. We started teaching her Thrusday, and invited her to a baby shower that a member was having at the church Saturday, and she came. She talked with everyone! She's super sweet and outgoing. Everyone thought she as a member already! Adriana is really excited to learn more and get to know the church.

The other family is super awesome, Jair, Lidiane and their 4 kids. We met Lidianie in front of her house because we were lost (again) and asked for directions, and then asked if we could share a message with her, and she said yes. She went to a protestant church in the past, but stopped because of some things that were going on in the church that she didn't like. She said that she made a deal with God that she would go to the church of the next person that invited her. This was over a year ago, and we were the first to invite her to church. She said that she was already feeling good about our message, and she's going to bring her whole family to church.

Life is good. Livin' the dream :)

Have a great week! Love ya!
Sister Pennington

milagre da semana (July 7)

Hello, everyone!

So this week was full of crazy things. First of all, Brazil played Colombia in the world cup on the 4th of July and won, so for the next 2 hours, there were horns, fireworks and things of that nature. So it was pretty much the same thing as the 4th of July in the states :)

We promised an investigator last week that if she went to church with us, we would go to church with her, and she went. So we visited the 7th day Adventist church (on Saturday morning, naturally) and it was interesting. She took us back to her house and made us lunch, so it was pretty cool. She works in a bakery, and she had cake to give us, so that was pretty cool too :)

But the biggest most exciting MILAGRE of the week....

We've been teaching Senhora Vera for sooooo long! I found her with sister Gonzalez in April, taught her with Sister A. Silva and am still teaching her with sister Vega. She's had several baptismal dates that didn't work out because her daughter got a perforation in her intestine and then a ruptured cyst, and had to have a serious surgery, and she was in the ICU for a week, but finally got out and went home. This was about a month ago. And since then, Vera's been looking after her daughter, helping her because her daughter really can't do anything on her own right now. So we've been at kind of a stand still with her. We already taught her everything, and she already had a testimony and a desire to be baptized, but wasn't able. We had no idea what to do, and in a last effort attempt to help her, we arranged to visit her with the bishop. We agonized for a week over what to teach her with the bishop (who hadn't ever gone out teaching with us before, but agreed to go for the first time) and for the very first time on my mission I had absolutely no idea what to teach. Wednesday arrived, (the day of our appointment) and we still had no idea what to do. We met up with the bishop right before the meeting, and explained the situation to him. And he said, "well, we'll just go in and talk to her, and let the spirit do the rest". It was one of the best lessons I've been a part of on my mission. Sister Vega and I hardly said anything, and Bishop pretty much taught the first 3 lessons in under and hour, invited Vera to be baptized, and then gave a priesthood blessing to Vera's daughter. And then Bishop baptized Vera on Saturday. It was so cool to see the Bishop's excitement for missionary work, and for Vera! The baptism was so special, so sweet. Vera was crying the whole time because she was so elated. After the baptism, she grabbed my hand crying, and stopped just long enough to tell me, "Thank you, Sister, for talking to me that day when I was going to re-pot my plant. Thank you for giving me this opportunity". I've learned so much from Irma Vera and teaching her, I can't even begin to list all of the lessons I've learned from her. But, I think the most important lessons I've learned are 1. talk to everyone and 2. patience and faith. I met Vera at the end of April one morning when she was walking in the street carrying a pot of flowers. We stopped to talk to her, got her address, and started teaching her. And then after 3 months of praying, thinking working, and doing everything we could she was finally baptized. She is such a special woman, and is going to be a faithful and dedicated member of the church. It's been such a blessing working with her.

Sister Vega, Bishop, Irma Vera, Sister Pennington
Yesterday during fast and testimony meeting, Bishop bore his testimony about the experience he had helping us help Vera, and he bore his testimony about the importance of missionary work, and invited the members to help. We've been working for the past 3 transfers to gain the confidence of the Bishop, and with a lot of hard work and the help of the spirit, I think we're finally getting there.

I know that God lives, and that He really is a God of miracles. He is aware of each one of us, and He is anxiously engaged in our lives, and works along side of us to build His kingdom here on the earth. I love this gospel, and am so blessed to be a part of it!

Love you all and hope you have a great week!
Sister Pennington

always, always an adventure (June 30)


This week was a little bit crazy! We had 2 Brazil games this week, and an exchange, so the week was really different than usual.

So I got a call on Monday that all of the trainers and their trainees would be having a meeting on Thursday at 10 in Campinas. There's a bus from Itatiba to Campinas at 8:30. Beleza, no problem. Then the Sister Training leader called me because she needed to do an exchange with sister Acevedo. She decided that it would work best if we switched at the meeting on Thursday in Campinas, and I went to Braganca with her companion, and she come back to Itatiba with my companion, and then meet up with sister Acevedo and her companion and do an exchange. A little bit more complicated, but again, no problem. It's the end of the month, so we're really poor, but we had just enough to pay for all of the buses. So, Thursday morning, we go to the bus station to find out that the bus schedule changed and they no longer have a bus at 8:30, but at 9 and it goes through another city, so it takes a lot longer. We didn't get to Campinas until 10:30, and by that time, I was already distraught because we were so late, and then we got on the bus, but missed the bus stop, and I recognized that I was in Barao Geraldo, my first area! So we got off the bus and I called the assistant to the president, and was crazy pants stressed because we had no money and were late and I had no idea where we were...but the assistant is a good human who easily recognized that I was pretty close to tears, so he paid for a taxi to come and pick us up. We got the to meeting just as President Perroti was driving away #mostembarrasingmomentofmylife. But, in the end it kind of worked out...I went to Braganca with Sister Mitillo, and Sister Matos went to Itatiba with Sister was kind of crazy pants, but it worked...
Sister Pennington with Sister Vega and two members of the local ward.
Saturday was the first game of the finals for Brazil, and they went into overtime...We were waiting for the game to finish to go back to work, but at 3 when the game should have ended, nobody was in the streets. Literally not one person was in the street. We waited a bit more, and an hour later people start screaming, yelling, honking horns in the streets, setting off fireworks and a bunch of other craziness. Haha it was a good time :)

Things are crazy here, but we've had some really good things as well. Ariani was a referral from a member who went to church a few weeks ago, and we were able to teach her this week, and she is so prepared! She's searching for the truth, and she is loving the things we're teaching. She understands really well what we teach, and has so much real intent. The problem, is that her husband is very firm in his beliefs, and she is worried about what will happen with her relationship when she's baptized. But, she's great!

Sister Pennington with Ira Bia and her family
We had a cool experience of being in the right place at the right time. We were walking in front of the church going to a teaching appointment, and a woman parked in front of the church and asked if it was open. We talked to her a little bit, and found out that she's doing family history work, and she heard that the church has a lot of resources to help her with family history, so she just showed up at the church. We set up another appointment with her at the church and the member in charge of family history, and we were able help her and her family with the genealogy they wanted to do, and we were also able to teach the first lesson. They're pretty great!

This week, like every week, was crazy and full of unexpected adventures. I just love being a missionary!

Love you all, and have a great week!
Sister Pennington


Monday, June 23, 2014

Uma semana de milagres (June 23)

Hola, familia!

This week really was a week of miracles!

Sister Vega and I were able to teach so many people, find new investigators and help the ones we have. It was awesome...

3 experiences that were particularly miraculous...

1. We had an awesome activity at the church! The ward here has been struggling to feel excited about missionary work, but last week we visited a family in the ward to ask them what they thought the ward needed to feel more excited, and they suggested an activity. So we planned and executed an awesome activity and TONS of people showed up. It was a contest of desserts, but it was the men that made the dessert and the women who judged. It was great!

2. Vera has been in her daughter's house all week, so we haven't been able to see her this whole week. We were really worried about her, because we hadn't seen her, and we'd already re-marked her baptism so many times, we were just really worried. So we called her to get the address of her daughter's house. I understood the neighborhood, and house number and it was near a futebol field, but didn't understand the name of the road and just as I was about to ask her again, the phone cut out. And we're poor missionaries without credit, so we we out of luck. So Sister Vega and I decided that we would just go on faith. Vera's daughter lives in the area of the other sisters, so I'd never been to this place before in my life. And it was 7 at night on friday. But, we felt very strongly that we needed to visit her. So, we took the bus with the name of the neighborhood and just went. We got off the bus and asked everyone we could find where the futebol field was, and we eventually found the field. With a host of 10 or so streets to choose from, we really were led by the hand of God to the right house. The very first door we tried was the right house. Vera came out and was so excited to see us, and we went inside and talked with Vera and her daughter and it was awesome. Vera is still firm in every way possible. She's awesome and going to be baptized so soon!

3. The other sisters have been teaching an older lady, Jú, for months now. She was taught everything and had already developed a testimony of the gospel, but people kept telling her that she wasn't ready. The sisters had an intense lesson with her on Saturday afternoon, and Jú decided to be baptized on Saturday at 7. So the sisters called us frantically at 4 to say that they needed our help getting everything ready for the baptism. So we knocked the doors of every member that lived in our area to invite them to the baptism, went to the chapel to help fill up the baptismal font and put together a quick musical number to play during the service. It really turned out well, and there were so many people who came that we had to hold the service in the sacrament meeting room. Members even made food to eat after the service! And guess who randomly showed up...A GENERAL AUTHORITY! A member of the area presidency of Brazil came to Jú's baptism! It was awesome, and she felt so special and felt so good. It was a great baptism, and the ward got even more excited about missionary work!

It was a great week, and we were blessed to have so many experiences to see the Lord's hand in this work. I absolutely love the privilege I have of being a part of this great mission!

Love you all!
Sister Pennington

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Oi, tudo bem? (June 16)

Hello, everyone!

First world cup game with Brazil ... It was crazy pants in the street for the whole night after the game! And Brazil plays again tomorrow ... wahoo! time to read the Book of Mormon!

So this week was pretty good! Sister Silva was transferred to Campinas, so I dropped her off at the Rodoviaria in Campinas before I went to the mission office. And guess who was in the Rodoviaria going to the United States ... Sister Howell! I got to see her one last time before she went home! She's a normal human now!

But, anyways ... I went to the mission office, and all of the trainers had a lunch and a training from the assistant. I got really nervous before getting my new companion ... I was so nervous, in fact, I didn't even eat dessert because I wasn't hungry ... that's how nervous I was!

But life's good because I got the best companion ever! Sister Vega! She's from Peru, and she's so awesome! She's so sweet, so humble, so willing to learn and I'm pretty sure she came pre-trained! She's awesome!
Sister Pennington and her new companion Sister Vega
Her very first day here, we had our study in the morning like usual, and an extra hour of training, and we practiced how to invite an investigator to be baptized. Later that day, we had a lesson with one of our investigators, and Sister Vega had no fear and incited our investigator to be baptized exactly how we practiced and she accepted! It was so awesome! Sister Vega's the bomb!

Vera wasn't baptized this week, which is sad, but it's because her daughter had a very serious surgery and got out of the hospital this week, so Vera wasn't at home, and we couldn't finish teaching her the lessons. But, she was at her daughter's house Saturday night, and she told her daughter she had to go home to sleep to get ready for church, and she came on Sunday, and absolutely loved it! She feels so comfortable there, and she absolutely loves the gospel! She's so great! (although she did cry when I told her that Sister Silva left! I almost cried wen I saw her crying! But she's going to love sister Vega!)

I love all of you at home so much! I hope that y'all are doing well! I love the gospel and I love being a missionary!

Até mais!
Sister Pennington

Monday, June 9, 2014

crazy pants!! (June 9)

Hello, everyone!

This week has been a little bit crazy pants! It feels like the end of the transfer is always a little bit crazy pants!

4 crazy pants things...
1. The world cup starts this week, so it's about to get straight up crazy pants here! Brazilians love fútebol more than anything in the world. We received direction from our mission president that on the days when Brazil is playing, we're not to leave our house ... I think I'll have enough time to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover at least twice ... I'll let you know how that goes :)

2. On Friday, we left the house of an investigator and started walking, and Sister A. Silva had a crippling pain in her leg, and it wouldn't go away, and she couldn't walk, so we went to the hospital. We're both sheltered 20 year olds, and had never been to the hospital alone, so we didn't know exactly what to do. But, Heavenly Father loves Sister A. Silva a lot, and as I was struggling to push the wheel-chair bound A. Silva out of the elevator, a couple from the ward, Zeca and Camilla, came to the rescue. The Lord put them in our path at just the right moment! Sister A. Silva and I waited and then went to talk with the doctor and she was the worst! She didn't want to do anything, and when we protested a bit, she got impatient and just ordered a bunch of unnecessary tests just to make us stop talking. So we were on our way to get x-ray (which obviously wouldn't help anything, because the pain wasn't in her bones) and we explained the situation to Zeca and Camilla who were waiting for us. Zeca reminds me a LOT of Geza Lengyel - so needless to say he was outraged at the uselessness of this doctor and he demanded that we see someone else. He went in to talk with another doctor with us, and he said he was A. Silva's father and he demanded something to be done for her. It was pretty awesome. The doctor ended up giving an IV with some pretty heavy medicine to A. Silva, and so she felt a lot better. Zeca stayed with us while A. Silva was getting the IV, and there's only supposed to be one family member per patient and 3 or 4 different nurses came up to Zeca and said that he had to leave, and he only said, "ok" and didn't move. It was fantastic. He and his wife stayed with us for 3 hours in the hospital and then drove us home. They're absolutely awesome! Sister A. Silva's doing better, but she's going to have to see a specialist, because the doctor thought that it could be something nerve related...

3. VERA'S GETTING BAPTIZED THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!!! She's the absolute best! She reads the Book of Mormon every day, and even more, she reflects on what she reads, understands it, and applies it. She understands and believes that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and wants to choose the right. She is so excited to be baptized. Up until this week she said that she wanted to be baptized, but that she wasn't ready yet. But this week she decided that she was ready and that she was going to prepare to be baptized! The baptism will be Sunday afternoon...keep her in your prayers :)

4. The assistant called me on Friday morning to let me know that I'm going to be training a new missionary this next transfer! I'm panicing just a little bit! I'm staying here in Itatiba, and Sister A. Silva is leaving. I'm going to be very sad to see her go! She's great! I pick up my "daughter" from the mission office tomorrow afternoon...keep her in your prayers too! Poor thing has no idea what she's getting into with Pennington as her trainer!

Love you all so much, and hope you have a great week!
Sister Pennington

Saturday, June 7, 2014

It gets cold in Brazil?! (June 2)

Hello, familia!

I don't know if I've become a wuss since coming to Brazil, but holy cow it's flippin' cold here! I'm literally going to have to go buy a winter jacket! Who knew!

Cake Sister Pennington made for Sister A. Silva
Anyways, highlights of the week....

- Vera - I wrote about her last week that she came to church and LOVED it! She's just eating up the gospel - reading the Book of Mormon, the Gospel Principles book she got in church, the pamphlets we left for here, and even more than that, she's talking about what she's learning with her family! She's so excited about learning more about the gospel! And, we brought the president of the relief society with us, and she is awesome! Just to explain a little bit about how awesome the president of the relief society is, she served a mission and she "only" had 2 baptisms. But guess what? One of the people she baptized is now the area president of Brazil, Elder Costa. She and her husband served as mission president. She gets missionary work. She's awesome. Anyways, Vera obviously just loved her to pieces, and they talk a lot during the week. It's awesome.

Sister Pennington and her companion Sister A. Silva
 - Carlos - We found Carlos last week knocking doors. We went back this week, and he is so prepared! We were teaching the restoration of the gospel to him, and we were teaching about prophets, and he stopped it and asked us, "If God always called prophets, then why don't we have prophets today? That doesn't make sense." We then had the privilege of telling him that we do have a prophet today who received revelation directly from God to lead this church. When we got done teaching him, he was very excited to read the Book of Mormon, and come to church. He's awesome!

- João Batista - HE FINALLY CAME TO CHURCH! We've been doing everything we can to help him quit smoking, and make changes in his life, but he wasn't progressing - so we explained very clearly to him, that if he doesn't decide to start making changes in his life and acting, there's nothing more we can do to help him. He came to church on Sunday and absolutely loved it! It was great!
Can you guess which side is Sister Pennington's ;)
 - Cremilda and Luis Claudio - I wrote about this family a few weeks ago - that they were an inactive couple with 3 boys who aren't members that we miraculously found at the bus stop. We were about to give up on them, because we've been trying to meet with them, and it seemed like they were avoiding us, and not really wanting to come back to church. BUT, we decided to try them one last time, and we found just the mom, Cremilda, at home, and she said the she wanted to come back to church, and that she would be at church. They'd promised this before, so our faith in them was unfortunately a little weak. But guess, what?! THEY CAME TO CHURCH! After being inactive for over 10 years, they finally came back, and they loved it! The ward got so excited! Everyone was so welcoming to them, and they absolutely loved it!

It was fast and testimony meeting yesterday, and a young woman, Fiorella, who's only 14 years old bore one of the most powerful testimonies I've ever heard. She talked about how she had a friend who recently lost her father, and how she was sharing the gospel with this friend. Fiorella talked with her friend about the eternal nature of families and that through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be sealed to our families forever. Fiorella bore testimony about missionary work, and how good she felt when she shared the gospel.

In a simple testimony, Fiorella really summed up the purpose of missionary work, and the blessings associated with it. We're here to help families be together forever. There's a definition of "missionary" that you've probably already heard; "someone who leaves their family for a short time so that others can be with theirs for eternity".

This is why I'm here, and hope that I can be of service to the people I teach.

Love you all and hope you have a great week!
Sister Pennington

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hello! (May 26)

Hola, minha familia!

This week was really tiring! Not going to lie! Almost none of our investigators were progressing, so we literally dropped almost all of our investigators, so this week we're going to be finding new people to teach. The Lord is preparing the people in this area, and we just need to go find them.

We do have one investigator who is progressing and super awesome! Her name is Vera Lucia, and she's an older lady, very sweet, who truly has a desire to serve the Lord. She's reading the book of Mormon, praying, and truly willing to do what the Lord requires of her. She has a lot of back pain, so it's kind of hard for her to get around. But, we went with a member to pick her up for church yesterday, and she was waiting in her house all dressed up for church. She's so stinkin' adorable! And she absolutely loved church! The ward was so welcoming to her, and she absolutely loved it! She's already accepted baptism, we just need to set a date with her.

2 funny stories for y'all :)

1. "Voce vai jantar conosco?"
- So I still don't speak Portuguese. I really can understand almost everything, and I can say what I want to, but sometimes I still get a little bit mixed up. Especially at night at the end of the day when I'm tired. Anyways, we went to go see an investigator at 8 at night before starting to head home. Our investigator wasn't there, but his family was there making dinner (his family likes us, but wants nothing to do with the church). When we arrived, I thought that his brother asked if we had walked a lot that day. I wasn't paying much attention, and didn't fully understand what he said, but we had walked a lot, so I responded yes. My companion started to help make the dinner, and I got really confused, and annoyed because we had no reason to stay there, but my companion was helping make dinner so we couldn't leave. So we waited until the dinner was done, and neither of us was hungry, so we got a little tiny plate, ate as fast as we could and then left. After we left, I was annoyed because we had wasted so much time. Sister A. Silva could see that I was annoyed and asked why I had accepted to eat dinner. And I said I hadn't, but it turns out that the question that I hadn't fully understood, but responded yes to, was "are you going to eat dinner with us". And so it was that Sister Pennington didn't speak Portuguese and ate dinner with the Jehovah's Witnesses that want nothing to do with the church :) We laughed for the next two days about it :)

2. "Voce pode tocar o piano?"
In the October 2012 conference, Elder Nelson challenged the members to ask the missionaries for help with whatever they needed. Two weeks ago, one of the members, Tayla, accepted this challenge, and asked for help with the choir because she need more women to sing for the devotional/ conference that happened yesterday. No problem. Of course we can help sing. We sang I need thee every hour, and another Brazilian song that I'd ever heard. But, it wasn't too hard. It worked out. Yesterday, an hour before the devotional, Tayla came to me frantically telling me that  the person who was going to play the piano bailed and she needed someone to play for the devotional. I need thee every hour I can play with no problem, so I agreed. But she also wanted piano for the other piece. So I played a hymn that I heard for the first time last week and had never played in my life in front of 200 people. But, there was literally nobody else to do it. It wasn't horrible, but, yeah... I think "it wasn't horrible" sums it up. I don't know if y'all are familiar with the Spongebob episode when Squidward makes a band to play in the bubble bowl, and when they start out practicing they break the windows of the building they're practicing in. It was kind of like that, except we weren't practicing :) I think Tayla owes us about 200 referrals now, all families with parents legally married without word of wisdom problems who have been looking for the church for 20 years. We're going to get on that :)

Anyways, hope y'all had a wonderful week! Just remember, the sky is blue, and the church is true!
Sister Pennington

Hello, everyone! (May 19)

Oi, familia!

Hope y'all had a great week! Mine was pretty great!

Actually there was one thing that was not great...

All missionaries use the missionary daily planner - the little white book that missionaries carry around. And inside this planner, we plan everything for at least a week in advance. We have goals, plans, appointments, addresses, phone numbers...literally everything. And for the first time in 10 months... I LOST MY PLANNER!!!!!!! It was horrible! If I had tear ducts, I would've cried! But, this is why we have companions...luckily Sister A. Silva had mostly everything that we needed and I was able to recreate my planner (mas ou menos). But that became the joke of all of the sisters here in Itatiba. They'd say, "hey, do you remember that one time you lost your planner?" Or when something didn't go well, they'd say it was because I lost my planner. It was a good time :)

But, in other news, I mentioned the family we found at the bus stop last week. The parents are members who were baptized 10 years ago, and have 3 sons who aren't members yet. Well, we had the privilege to teach them this week, and they're SO PREPARED!!!! It was absolutely 100% the hand of the Lord that helped us to find this family. We got to their house, and the husband, Luis Claudio, ran to get the pictures of their baptism. He showed us their baptism and the elders who taught their family. He showed us the baptismal certificates, and the certificate of ordination of the Aaronic priesthood that he received. He was completely overjoyed to talk with us! We taught the restoration to him and his family. His 3 sons are so awesome! They are very good kids, especially given their age (11-15). They were attentive and interested, and when we recited the first vision, they felt the spirit very strongly. We gave them a copy of the Book of Mormon, and the oldest son was reading it before we even left. They are so amazing! We went back another day to talk about sealing in the temple, and the parents were so excited, and said that they definitely wanted that! They're such an amazing family and I feel so honored to be able to have met them!

I was reading today in the Book of Mormon Heleman 5, which I think is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. The beginning talks about what Heleman taught his two sons, Nephi and Lehi, who later became powerful missionaries. Heleman pleads for his sons to remember. To remember to keep the commandments, to remember the words and deeds of prophets of the past, and above all to remember that it is only in and through Jesus Christ and His gospel that we can have a sure foundation in this life, and hope of eternal salvation in the life to come. When I was teaching Luis Claudio, I wasn't really teaching him.  I was just reminding him of what he already knew. He already had felt the power of the gospel in his life, and that is why he decided to follow the example of Jesus Christ. When we were reminding him of these things, we could tell that he really was remembering not only what we were teaching, but how he felt 10 years ago when he was baptized. And he wants it again. And he wants it for his family.

I feel so privileged to be a part of this gospel, and to have the opportunity to teach people and remind them of the joy and happiness that really can come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Sister Pennington

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

hello! (May 12)

Oi, familia!

This week was pretty good! We taught a bunch and we found some really cool new investigators!
Sister Pennington and Sister A. Silva
Sad news first....
We had a lesson with Giovanna this week, and taught her the rest of the lessons she needed before baptism. She was excited, and accepted everything we taught. Because she's only 16 she needs permission from her mom to be baptized, so we talked with her mom later that day to get permission, but her mom is very prejudiced against the church, and won't let her get baptized. We talked with Giovanna's mom for over an hour, pleading with her to let Giovanna make this choice, but she wouldn't allow it. So unfortunately, we had to drop her. She is such a special person, and truly a golden investigator. She said that she'll continue reading the Book of Mormon and praying, and hopefully that will be enough to strengthen her testimony until she's old enough to make her own decision.

In happier news....
Like I said last week, sister A. Silva already served here, and she had an awesome investigator who had a testimony of the church and was even interviewed for baptism, but didn't have support from her husband, so she backed out. This was over 6 months ago, so we decided to go back and see how she was doing, and she still has a testimony of the church (she has the family a proclamation to the world hanging on her wall) and her husband's heart was softened, and we were able to teach the restoration! He said that he knew that it was God that sent us and he's excited to learn more about the church! They're an awesome family!
Sister Pennington and a monkey at a bus stop
I've definitely gained a testimony of the importance of talking with everyone and inviting everyone to hear the gospel. Last week, we were sitting at a bus stop in a neighborhood we don't usually visit. It's really far away from our house, and so we don't have an opportunity to go there very often. But, this day we happened to be there, and as we were waiting to get the bus a couple came and sat at the bus stop. We started talking to them, and came to find out that they were members of the church, but have been inactive for over 10 years. They just moved to this state (they're from North Brazil) and because of this, their records aren't here in Itatiba. We never would've found them if we hadn't been at that bus stop in that neighborhood at that particular time.I know that the Lord puts people in our path for a reason, and we need to be able to recognize these opportunities to serve and do the Lord's will. We got the address of this couple, and they seemed really interested in having us come to their house and teach them and their family. They have 3 young-men-aged sons who are not members of the church.

I love being a missionary! I get to see miracles every single day! These past 10 months have been the experience of a life time, and I'm excited to have 8 more!

Love you all and hope you have a great week!
Sister Pennington

hello!!!!!!!!! (May 5)

So you remember that one time when I was really legitimately worried about being left alone in this area because I don't know my way around the city...well guess what? My new companion has already been here! She served here for 2 transfers 4 months ago! The church is true! Heavenly Father does answer prayers!!! She remembers a lot of where people live, and how to get to the different neighborhoods. It's been a while, so she doesn't remember everything, but I know somethings, and together, we make it work.

Anyways, my new companion is Sister A. Silva (Silva is a ridiculously common name here in Brazil, so she goes by A. Silva because there are so many other missionaries with the last name Silva) and she's from Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil. She's 19 and super cool. I'm excited for the transfer! It's going to be a good one!
Sister Pennington and her new companion, Sister A. Silva
We had a pretty awesome week. We found 11 new investigators! wahoo! One of my favorites, is João Batista (literally John the Baptist). He's 50 something, and so humble and willing to learn. He was a referral from a member, and he's already been to church and he loves it. He's trying to quit smoking, and so we're helping him with that. He's so appreciative and so awesome. On Saturday we taught the restoration, and it was interesting because his brother was there, who is a devout Jehovah's witness. His brother was very respectful, which was good. At the end of the lesson, we invited João to offer the closing prayer, and his brother started talking about how non-baptized people can't pray in front of baptized people. It was a bit awkward, but he ended up leaving and João said the prayer. It was so humble and simple, and because of this, was even more powerful. After the prayer, João told us that he really felt like Heavenly Father wanted to hear from him. It was so cool.

This ward is really starting to get in the spirit of missionary work. When I got here, the ward liked the missionaries, but wasn't excited really about being involved in the work. But yesterday, almost all of the people who bore their testimonies talked about missionary work. We've been talking sister Bia, the YW president, with us to visit Giovana. Bia bore her testimony yesterday about how she didn't know how to help with missionary work before, but now that she's going with the sisters, she feels really good about the work that she's doing, and that she feels a lot of joy in having the opportunity to share the gospel. If I had tear ducts I would've cried. I felt like I was really fulfilling my purpose as a missionary, because we're really here to help the members to do missionary work, and when they have opportunities to participate, they get to feel the joy of sharing the gospel that the prophet Lehi described. (1 Nephi 8:12). It was so awesome, and her testimony strengthened that of other members in the ward. I know that it will make a difference!

Always eating pizza ;)
I'm so excited for this transfer! It's going to be amazing! I love you all so much, and hope you have a wonderful week!
Sister Pennington