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

The end of the transfer! (April 28)


So, we have transfers tomorrow, and Sister Gonzalez is leaving! I'm panicking just a little bit, because as most of you know I'm extremely directionally challenged....I DON'T KNOW WHERE ANYONE LIVES AND I CAN'T READ A MAP!!!!

But, the Lord knows how spatially challenged I am, and He trusts me with this area, então, vamos lá!

This week was good! We had a lot of success finding people and teaching lessons. We had a really full schedule every day, and had plenty of people to keep us busy!

On Saturday, we did an exchange with the sister training leader in another city. Sister Morgan and I went to Jundiaí with Sister Matos, and her companion came here with Sister Gonzalez and Sister Acevedo. Jundiaí is a huge city! It's close to Itatiba, so I've heard people talk about it, but I didn't know it was so big! Anyways, the exchange was really good, and I learned a lot from Sister Matos. She's an awesome missionary, and it was a really good opportunity to teach with her. Also, the sisters in Jundiaí live in a house with 2 other companionships, and Sister Guynn from the MTC is there. It was good to see her again! She's a sweetheart!

So, Giovanna, Josiane and Francisco came to church again! It was awesome! They loved it! After church we went to visit them, and Giovanna especially is just golden! She told us that she believes everything that we've taught her, and that she loves church! She started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning, and is just loving it! She is awesome! She really wants to be baptized, but she wants to go to church more before she gets baptized. She's pretty great! Josiane and Francisco are also interested, but they have some concerns, but they're willing to keep meeting with us, read the scriptures, pray and go to church, so they'll definitely get an answer! They're just the best! They knew that Sunday was my birthday and that Sister Gonzalez was probably leaving on Tuesday, so they bought us presents - they go me really cute black shoes with a gold buckle at the top and sister Gonzalez pink shoes with a bow. Those guys are just stinkin' adorable!

Sister Gonzalez made me a cake for my birthday! It was orange cake with brigadera frosting (brigadeira is a thick chocolate thing made with sweetened condensed milk! It's awesome!) And Sister Morgan and Acevedo bought me Pasoquita (my favorite! - it's almost like peanut butter) and pizza that we cooked in the oven. They sang parabéns for me, and it was sweet :)  It was overall a good day, and everyone made it really special. Thanks for the birthday wishes from afar! I love you all so much!

The birthday girl :)

Have an amazing week!
Sister Pennington

9 months! (April 21)

Holy cow time flies!

Last week I hit 9 months! That's a really long time to be on a mission, and really really long time to be away from home! I'm excited for what the next 9 months have in store! If it's anything like the first half, it will be an absolute adventure!

Sorry I don't have a ton of time for the big e-mail...I got lots of nice birthday wishes! Thank you to everyone :)

So I'll just give the highlights of the week...
- we had zone conference this week, and it was great! It was a really long process (we left at 6 in the morning and got back at 8 at night!) but it was really good. The assistants gave a training on how to plan more effectively, which was much needed! We've put into practice their suggestions, and it's helping a lot!
- At zone conference, I got to see sister Howell! It was so awesome to see her! I miss her a lot!
- we got lots of ovos de pascoa this week! (chocolate Easter eggs!) A woman in the ward makes her own chocolate and she made giant Easter eggs for each of us missionaries! It was so good!
- We had 3 investigators at church today, Giovana, Josiana and Francisco! Giovanna, 16 years old, is the most excited about the  church! She loves the Book of Mormon and already received an answer that it's true! She loved church, and she's excited for baptism! She's absolutely golden, and I could totally see her serving a mission!

It was very special to be able to be a missionary this weekend during Easter! The gift the Jesus Christ gave to us through his atonement is the center of our message as missionaries, and I was so honored to represent our Savior during this sacred holiday. The church made an Easter video, perhaps you've already seen it, that shows well the sacrifice that he made for us.  You can find it at

I love you all so much and want you to know that I know that Jesus Christ was sent here for us because he loves us, and because our Heavenly Father loves us. His sacrifice was real, and is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. He was the plan from the beginning of the world, the only way, truth and life.

Happy Easter!
Sister Pennington