Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Yet another week (April 14)

Hello, family!

I'm seriously learning so much this transfer! This week was another awesome learning opportunity! We worked so hard, and saw very little result (as far as new investigators that have a lot of potential).

My week really can be summed up by the primary song, "pioneer children" replacing pioneer children for missionaries...
[sister missionaries] sang as they walked, and walked and walked, and walked".

Some of the crazy hills!

By the end of this week we were absolutely spent, but had little to show for it. We were pondering what it is we need to do differently to work more effectively. Our problem is not diligence or obedience, but it is working effectively. President Hinckley said this about the importance of members, "So many of us look upon missionary work as simply tracting. Everyone who is familiar with this work knows there is a better way. That way is through the members of the Church. Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system. The member bears testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious for the happiness of his investigator friend. He becomes excited as that friend makes progress in learning the gospel."

We taught 20 lessons this week, and only 2 of which were with members, and all of the investigators were found through tracting. There's a reason the church is stressing the importance of member missionary work, and it's because tracting is just not effective. Even here in Brazil where people are open to letting you come in, and to hear about the gospel, it is really so much more effective to work with the members. So we decided that we're going to do everything we can to work with the members, and hopefully we'll be able to be better instruments in the Lord's hands.

In Alma 29:9, Alma explains his purpose and his goals for being a missionary. It is one of my favorite scriptures about missionary work.

"Sei que o Senhor me ordenou, e nisso me glorio...que talves posso ser um instrumento nas maos de Deus para trazer alguma alma ao arrependimento; e esta e a minha alegria"

I want to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to do his work here, and I'll do everything I can to accomplish this task.

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hello familia! (April 7)

Hi, everyone!

Hope y'all enjoyed watching conference! I know I did! It was so awesome! We watched all of the sessions in the chapel, and it was in Portuguese, of course. I was able to understand most of what was said, but I'm going to have to go back and watch a few of the talks in English to get everything. I missed hearing the actual voice of the prophet, though! I was surprised how much I missed his voice! I think it would be hard to me a member who didn't speak English, because they never hear the General Authorities speaking in their own language, but they have such great faith and such a strong testimony that the words the Prophet and the Apostles speak, no matter what language, are the words of the Lord. They are such great examples to me!

 We learned a lot this week through our mistakes! We have a lot to learn, and a lot of room for improvement. The biggest lesson I learned this week, was the importance of following the spirit. As missionaries, members of the church, and children of God, we have the privilege of feeling the influence of the spirit in our lives. The role of the spirit is to warn us of danger, prompt us to do what is right, and testify of truth. We learned a lesson about the role of the holy ghost in each of these ways. One experience in particular I'd like to share with you. We were in a lesson with an investigator, and he really doesn't learn, he just wants to debate the bible. It's easy to fall into the trap of Bible bashing, because we know that the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. But, we ended up staying there for 3 HOURS and the spirit wasn't there at all for that time. We had the spirit of contention, so there was no room for the spirit of the Lord to testify of the truth. We wasted 3 hours of the Lord's time, and we missed a lesson with another investigator who actually had potential. It was a very humbling, experience, and sister Gonzalez and I learned a lot. Yesterday, we contacted a man in the street just to invite him to conference and hear more about the church. He started arguing with us saying that the Book of Mormon contradicted the Bible. We tried to explain to him that it didn't, but he wouldn't listen. It's easy to prove that the Book of Mormon works in harmony with the Bible, because it does, but we learned our lesson and we didn't engage in the argument. We left him with our number, and told him that when he wants to learn the truth through the spirit he could give us a call. As we walked away, we felt the spirit with us, and knew that we were fulfilling our purpose as missionaries.

I love being a missionary, and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of the talks from general conference highlighted the fundamentals of the gospel, faith repentance, baptism and the Holy Ghost. I know that through the gospel we can become better. We can improve. God has the patience, and He gave us the tools. We just need to have the obedience and diligence to use them.

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

First week in Itatiba! (March 31)

Oi, familia!

So, I'm in Itatiba now! It's a cute little city about an hour outside of Campinas. When I found out I was going to Itatiba, everyone said, "there are a lot of hills there". I didn't think much of it. There are hill here...so what?

But, I understand now what they meant. Holy cow I'm going to have legs of steel by the time I leave this area!

The ward here is really big! It's the biggest ward I've ever served in, so it'll definitely be an interesting change. There are 2 sets of sisters working here, and we all share an apartment. My companion is from Chile, Sister Gonzalez, and both of the other sisters are American, Sister Morgan and Sister Acavedo from my district in the MTC. I'm excited to be in the same area as her! She's great!

So there's 4 sisters serving here in Itatiba - my companion is the one in the pink shirt, and you might recognize sister Acavedo on the end from the MTC. It's fun to be able to serve with her again!

Leaving Barao was hard and all of the members were really sad to see us leave. But, so far I really like this area. There are good people everywhere, and there are people everywhere who are prepared to hear the gospel! We found a ton of new investigators this week, including an amazing family! They are so awesome, and they have really great questions! They're golden!

We have a recent convert here, Luanna, who is so adorable. She's 28 and has so much energy! Her family is huge, and a lot of them live in her house with her, or are always there visiting. She's the only member of her family that joined the church, but the rest of her family loves the missionaries and is very supportive of her in the church. Luanna and her family put together a family home evening at the church as a ward activity, and they put so much effort into it, and it was so cute!

Yesterday, we had the best lunch in the world! There's a woman in the ward from Italy, and she fed us lunch yesterday after church and it was delicious! Christie, you'd be jealous! She made homemade marinara sauce for the pasta, and a simple but delicious chicken, with homemade whole wheat bread from their own homegrown wheat, and a delicious eggplant salad with basil and mint. And for desert, she made homemade ice cream and made a bundt cake sort of deal with a sweetened condensed milk fudge type thing. Nossa! Foi bom de mais!!! It was awesome! And, it was kind of like eating at Hogwarts, because she wouldn't let our plates be empty so she would always just serve us more food.  It was awesome!

Anyways, it's going to be a great week and an awesome transfer! I'm excited to serve here! It's going to be great!

Boa semana para voces!
love ya!
Sister Pennington