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