Monday, September 28, 2015

Fast & Offerings & One of my hero's!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week was awesome! We had our zone conference here in Chapeco, and I learned a ton! President Silva came and taught us a lot about how to use doctrine clearly to explain the gospel. Also that we need to be like the hero's of the Book of Mormon and apply their stories in our lives. I felt the spirit so strong and it gave me a stronger desire to be more obedient and talk with everyone about the gospel!
Sister Santos and I made a lot more contacts this week and we found a ton of new people. We are starting to lose old investigators, but it is good to really see who is interested!! I am feeling more confident with my Portuguese, I know that I am improving every week!  I am starting to really understand and connect with the people here!
We has divisions and I spent a day with sister Cardias, I learned a lot about how I need to get to know the people better and then I can receive revelation from the spirit after. I know this will help me in my lessons! I am feeling my heart really open for the people we teach I want this so bad for the people here, they just need to act and feel the holy ghost testify to them! I read a talk by President Eyering this week and he talked about the fast and offerings. How when we see the face of God He will ask if we helped his children. A way we can serve God is by giving fast offerings. When Christ fasted for 40 days he resisted all temptations of the Devil. I know that we can have this blessing too as we live more closely to this principle. We had a lesson about the plan of salvation and a boy asked so if we don't read this book do you believe we won't be saved? It made me think. I know that God has a plan for us, I know that God commanded the prophets here in the Americas to write the Book of Mormon to bless our lives. It is through this book we can find the true church of Christ and we can participate in saving ordinances that will bring eternal life. So yes we need to read this book and be baptized by the priesthood authority of God to have eternal life. I know this church is true everyday I feel my testimony and understanding of this Gospel grow like I never thought it would, I know for this reason I am here on this mission to strengthen my testimony and share the restored gospel with those who want it in their lives as well! Love you all Boa semana gente!!:)
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well this week was another tough one but I'm learning a lot!! Pretty much everyday this week we had an appointment and we brought a member to their house to teach them and they weren´t home and would not answer their phones! Three of our investigators are not progressing anymore too! Hahaha yeah. We have been walking everywhere contacting like crazy trying to find these people to teach and it just wasn´t any ones time this past week. We really have been a little worried too especially because we are preparing well every morning, we are studying for our investigators, and we are following the spirit. But still nothing happened.
One night we were just kind of talking it over and we decided to rededicate ourselves to be even better and to work ever harder. Well I was studying in 2 Nephi 4: 16-24 when he is sharing his experience about how he glory's in God and how he will put his trust in Him for forever, but he also talks about how easily his heart sorrows because of his iniquity. I was thinking what??? Come again?? Nephi? He is one of my hero's! He has always been such a great example of faith, obedience, courage, and more! Why was he so sad about little things I'm sure weren´t that big of a deal? When I read these scriptures the spirit just told me: You need to be more like Nephi. Haha I´m so thankful for the spirit and how he will guide us and help us in our lives. I realized that we need to be humble enough to always be repenting, always striving to be better, and always looking for how we can improve! I'm grateful for this week and how I was able to learn this lesson :) I know God loves us, and He wants us to progress, even when we feel like we are doing all of the right things! Which was perfect to hear right before conference!! I'm looking forward to going into this conference with a humble heart ready to hear what God wants of us in these latter days!! I hope all of us can have a great experience :)
Well in the end of this week we were basically just preparing for our Soup party!! It went really well and we actually had three investigators show up!! It was a success!!
AndrĂ© my first baptism moved to Lisbon!!! He got me a Sunflower with a card that talks about how the best thing in this life is to share our happiness with others :) He's a great member and will be an amazing missionary this next year!! It was sad to say Goodbye! We also ate dinner at a members house and they had such a cute dog named spike :) But it's another new week and I can´t wait to see what the Lord has in store! Love you all!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The most courageous sisters & God is helping us in the work here!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
Hey Family :) Well I can finally say I´ve eaten something weird. I ate snails!!! Haha we went to our Bishops house for family night and they had snails as their appetizer :) You´ll see in the picture our faces! Bishop and his daughter Inez love them!!! She was crying because her dad ate all of them!
But something we´ve been doing with a couple families, is our President has asked us to do a competition in the whole mission to see what person knows the most people so we just ask them to tell us names of people that they know that are not members of our church and we write them down :) we don't ask for a reference or an address just the names. You´d be surprised with how many people you really know that aren't members!! Then we do something nice for them to thank them for telling us names, then we go back and do phase 2 where they get to pray about all of the names and choose who Heavenly Father has prepared to hear about the gospel :) It´s super cool!! We´ve already done it with 3 Families :) FAMILY you can do this too! After we made cupcakes and decorated doors with cute scriptures and compliments they loved it :)
Well This week as far as the work goes we´ve had a lot of lessons with less actives!! We are really trying to help people come back to church now that school is starting and life is settling down!! It´s sometimes hard to help people feel the desire to come back to what they know is right because they just take it as pressure or they feel ashamed for not going to church, something i´ve learned this week is that one way to help them feel their own personal desire is to help them feel the spirit, it can help remind them of how they felt when they chose to be baptised and follow the savior. We can be good influences and help remind them of what they used to have (the spirit, joy, peace).
On Tuesday was Elder Arnold's Birthday so we made him brownies and one of the members made him a pineapple cake!  But as well we´ve still been working with Mara and Claudia as well as Marlow. They are all progressing but they all went on vacation this weekend because today's actually they day where the whole city is shutdown for a holiday :) So it's been a little rough not being able to help them go to church and feel the spirit there. But Jeorge has been really liking the book of Mormon! He is pretty old but he loves reading and loves God! Hes really excited to meet with us hopefully today to talk about Prophets!
We also have a party going on this week! It's a soup competition, people here always eat soup, so we thought it´d be funny to see who knows how to make the best soup! So this Saturday everyone in the ward is going to bring their best soup :)
Well some exciting things that happened is that our Mission President called us and told us that we are the most courageous sisters in the mission!!!! :) We went into the police station and asked if we could teach them because we need leaders in our Church :) Soooo we are going to go back and give them a portfolio that talks about who we are and then we get to go back and talk in a conference!!!!! Wow right?! Sometimes we just have to have courage in the Lord, He WILL make all things possible!! I've been thinking a lot about that this week because I hit 6 months this week!!! It was a pretty cool day!! I have absolutely loved my mission up until this point and I know I've had to have this courage and faith to keep serving everyday!! CANT wait for this next year!!! :) Love you all!!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
Well this was a really fast week! Geneci is really progressing she is so close to baptism. She knows that this is the right thing for her she just needs to make the choice in faith!
We found a new investigator and her son this week Cecilia and Wellington! They have always accepted other missionaries of other faiths and like to study the bible! We started to talk about the bible and the importance of scriptures. Then we introduced the Book of Mormon and they thought it was really interesting to have records of the people here! Then we talked about the importance of prophets and what it means to be a prophet. Everyone we ask what is a prophet they say that we are prophets. But they had a lot of questions like who is the prophet today, where can i find him, really where is the true church of Jesus Christ and do you believe that your church is that church. I said that I believe we are. Wow the spirit was so strong! They shared experiences with their health and that they needed to pray for help and that they knew God is real. They want to know that these things are true and I really feel grateful to find and teach these kinds of people!
I read the talk "The Lord is My Light" by Elder Quinton L. Cook and he talked a lot about how the family is so critical in the plan of God. And it is in the family that we can apply and learn the doctrine of Christ. I want an eternal family and I know that I can have one by keeping the commandments of God and choosing the right. I have been pondering that a lot this week. What exactly do we have to do to have eternal life? The answer, live the gospel of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. It truly is through our gospel that we will live together forever. I know that it is through our savior Jesus Christ we can feel like we aren't alone. He knows exactly how we feel it doesn't matter what feeling or experience we have HE knows. I have been having a hard time with the language but I know that I can always practice and be better, that is what the atonement is for too. I know that I have certain gifts and talents and I need to use them more as I teach!
In sacrament we had 6 investigators! What a Christmas miracle, the first time we have had more than one investigator in church!!!! I can really see that God is helping us in the work here! :)
I read in the Book of Alma yesterday and read a verse that says that as members of the church we need to pray and fast with all our might for the people who don't know God. This was perfect for me because this applies to us as members and a missionary I know that prayer is powerful and can increase our faith in the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Till Next week, see you.

Monday, September 14, 2015

50 contacts a day & We just need to act on faith!

(Sister Courtney Smith)
So this week literally flew by!!! Sister Rovig and I have been working very hard to reach our goals :) Seriously she has the same desire to be obedient and follow with exactness the counsel of our President! I know that we are being blessed because of the work we are doing! Well one of the things our President has asked us to do is contact at least 50 people every day! I know it doesn't sound like a lot but it is harder than you would think! But we are achieving this goal every day!!! Every day I have more desire to be more obedient! Something I´m learning a lot from Sister Rovig is Charity! She has so much of it! She works so hard and is so determined but she always makes sure others are taken care of before herself! I am working to be more like this, more like our Savior :) We also already have so many inside jokes it´s just a blast to serve with her! Well we we able to get a hold of one of the contacts and had a lesson with her, her name is Berta. We had the first lesson and everything went awesome! She started crying and was really accepting our message about Joseph Smith and the BOM, she told us shes really looking for the truth and would read the introduction and pray about the book! Well we both felt good about her when we left and went back to teach another lesson with Marco and Felipa :) We were so excited to teach her the Plan of Salvation and it started out great she really liked it but then after we talked about how this life and how we have our `labors` she got really nervous. She started saying all of these random things and told us she doesn't want to come to church! haha we were all a little shocked because she said she had such a desire to find out what is true and which church is Gods. Well we explained how we have to try going to church to see if its right kind of like a cake you have to try it to be able to know if its sweet and the right kind of cake. Well out of the blue she told us that she loves Saints and pretty much worships them and she won´t change her mind, she just flipped a switch, I bore testimony that through Jesus Christ we find our peace and through the Holy Ghost we find our answers, I felt the spirit so strong and she just looked in my eyes and I knew she felt it too, but right after she got scared and shut down, she told us shed keep reading and praying and then shed call us if she wanted to talk. Sometimes as missionaries we have these experiences but it just goes to show that we need to be worthy at all times to feel the spirit so when we do testify it is just up to the person to accept or deny what we are teaching and testifying of! Well we are also teaching another guy named Marlow, We have had some amazing lessons with him!! He is really great, we talked to him on Saturday and taught him the first five commandments and invited him to keep the Sabbath day holy! He said he´d come to the conference with us! Well We went to the Saturday session with two girls named Mara and Claudia! They went to a baptism with us of the other sisters and they really liked it! They were super interested in the priesthood and how it worked! So they were excited to come with us on Saturday! They really like it as well. It was pretty long but they said they felt really happy about it and are super interested to learn more! They are really cute they are from Angola and are just her to finish up school! So we are super excited to teach them this week!
Well some members from the stake talked and our mission President Amorim talked and his wife as well as the temple presidents in spain irmao e irma Montoya :) It was amazing! That session we talked a lot about temples!! It was cool they talked in Spanish but I could still understand a lot of what they were saying!! Then Sunday came but Marlow didn't.... hahaha wha wha wha. It was so sad!!! He was even awake early too! But he said that it just wouldn't work but that he'd come to church on Sunday! So we are going to try to teach him this week. It was funny too because all of the talks given were about keeping the Sabbath day holy! Just what he needed to hear! But All of the talks were great and gave me some much motivation to teach Marlow! The choir sang really well and it was pretty cool to be singing for the whole stake!
This week has been a trail of faith for me because last week was just a little different with all of the changes, but I know that when we have Faith in Christ he will help perfect us in all things when we deny our selves of all ungodliness (Moroni 10). When we keep the sabbath day holy, we are showing God that we want to dedicate this day to the Lord, Elder Nelson in his talk given this last conference said that it is a privilege to dedicate this one day out of 7, Mosiah 2,21 says that God lends us each day, he created us and has given us everything we can give back one day :) I'm so happy to be here showing God that I can dedicate 1 year and a half to him out of all of my life! I know that God is real and has a plan for us! Even in times that are hard when we pray, we can find strength and peace! Love you all!!!
(Sister Makelle Smith)
This week I have learned so much about my savior! We are teaching our investigator Geneci and she is so close to baptism. She knows this church is true and she knows the Book or Mormon is the word of God. She just has a lot of fear that she wont keep all the commandments all the time. She just needs to act on her faith. She is so prepared and she has so many questions! Keep her in your prayers because she is so ready to be baptized she just needs to act! She came to church this Sunday and is going to institute too!
My district is the best they said that they are all black and I am the only white person haha. We made a big breakfast before district meeting this week and that was way fun with smoothies cookies and cuscuz!
I got bitten by a dog so that was interesting, So I probably won't be able to teach a whole lot this week with getting shots and all. I gave a talk in church this Sunday. I gave it on the importance of Jesus Christ being our Savior. I read in the scriptures that Jesus Christ would fulfill the law of Moses. In the bible a part of the law of moses was to give animal sacrifices to represent the savior paying for the sins of the world. This was a commandment of the Lord. After Jesus Christ suffered for our sins and died for us, He fulfilled this law being the grand and ultimate sacrifice that would end all others. He only asks of us to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit to use the atonement in our lives and become new people everyday, become disciples of Jesus Christ. I have been learning that one one of the characteristics of Jesus Christ is Sacrifice. Sometimes we don't want to deal with certain trials, people, callings, jobs, but God gives them to us to sacrifice what we don't want to do the will of the Lord. And he promises us that if we do his will, we will grow as latter day saints and one day have eternal life.
I love this Gospel and I know that it is the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the Earth. Jesus is the only and true Christ and Savior of the world. And one day we will see him as He really is, and we can prepare for his coming as we keep His commandments and live righteously! Have a great week!:)

Monday, September 7, 2015

7 new investigators! & Sister Courtney Smith staying a 4th transfer!

(Sister Makelle Smith)
Wow this week was a week of a lot of effort! We had so many people to visit and teach but the majority of them didn't want to learn about the Book of Mormon. I have been pondering how we can make contacts with people without just saying we have a message about Jesus Christ. I received an answer that people need to know about the restored gospel and that we have a prophet in this day to guide our families to eternal life. We can make contacts talking about these things and really find the people who are truly interested in learning about the gospel of Christ not just another message from the bible.
My Portuguese is definitely getting better, without any English I am speaking a lot faster and more correctly! It is sometimes hard to understand everything, but if I can get an idea of what they are talking about I can comment and understand somewhat.
My highlight of the week was we contacted old investigators from the area book and turned out the whole family wanted to learn, seven new investigators! What a blessing and they all participated and want to know who our prophet is! We will teach them tonight! That whole day was really hard and I had prayed for God to guide us but no one was receiving us, but then we visited this family and I really felt that God was leading us. I am learning a lot about the importance of having a prophet. I am so grateful for my testimony in Thomas S Monson. I asked God to know if he is a true prophet before the mission and I received my answer that he is through the scriptures and the holy ghost. God knows us individually and He will answer all of our prayers if we ask in faith.
I learned a lot about marriage and family this week. That marriage was given to man by God it wasn't a thing that man created. That he gave this commandment to us to be happy and receive the blessing of eternal families, it is the only way to obtain this promised blessing from the Lord. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and we can truly understand the doctrine of Christ and how his true church really should be. I know that this gospel is true with my whole heart, Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and He can help us if we rely on him. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ I have been called by Him to declare His word unto his people that they might have everlasting life!:) Until next week!
(Sister Courtney Smith)
Well it has just been such an eventful week!!! Oh it was so sad to say goodbye to some really great missionaries!! Monday night we had a family night with the Silvas and the Elders made pizza! At this point we already knew that both of the Elders were getting white washed because they got a call, but we spent our last day together on Tuesday! It was pretty sad saying goodbye to Sister Johnson and Elder Ruggles just because they both have been here with me ever since I got here!
But we got transfer calls and I´m staying!!! It was actually quite the surprise just because you don´t usually stay in your first area for very long! I thought for sure I´d go somewhere else! But Sister Johnson got transferred to Foz it's a little beach town so I'm sure she is very happy!! And I was told I would be getting a new companion who actually was Sister Johnson's companion in the MTC!!! Her name is Sister Rovig :) Everyone calls her the "contacting machine" and boy are the right!! She is absolutely adorable and she loves talking to everyone and is so fearless! I am already learning so much from her! I don´t think I´ve ever done more contacts in one day! She is such a spiritual power house and I´m so lucky to be serving with her!
Well it´s actually been a very humbling week, the language has been a little tricky I don´t know why but everything I want to say just isn´t coming out right or when I´m trying to listen to the spirit nothing comes out of my mouth. I know it will get better and I´m fulfilling my purpose with doing what I can do :) Well we got right to work and we´ve been getting a hold of all of our past investigators and finding new ones!! We also had a zone meeting which was really great and I felt the spirit really strong! We also got a brand new sister from the states that is serving with Sister Campos! She is so cute and has so much positive energy to serve and let everyone know about our message :)
Well I don´t have that many pictures for the week actually! Oh yeah and our ward is singing in Stake conference this next week and one of the sisters from the other ward made us all blue skirts!!! She is so talented! So It will be a lot of fun to sing and help others feel the spirit! Our Mission President is also going to be there with Sister Amorim so I´m really excited!!
So as far as miracles go the first two days here we saw almost all of our investigators!! It was pretty crazy and we´ve met some pretty elect people! Alex is starting to progress again just very slowly, he went to a baptism with us and he say that for sure hes going to get baptized he just doesn't know when, so we´re working with him! As well we are finally teaching a different investigator named Marlow and he is awesome :) He's African as well and just has such a desire to have a new start in his life but he just wants to make sure he´s ready and have an answer that the Book of Mormon is true! He told us last night that he would read and pray to find out, we are going back tonight see how things went :) We are really excited! We read with him the first half of 2 Nephi 31 and he said he´d finish it! It´s a power chapter about baptism and he was already saying how he wanted to be baptized! So hopefully he did his part because we know he´s ready for it :)
My spiritual message for the week is about an experience this week! So we actually met with this guy from Germany this week and he only speaks English and German and so it was really weird to do a contact in English, but he pretty much called us pathetic for believing in God and how religion is the biggest cause of death in the whole world. He was really crazy and sad. We were testifying with our authority and I actually starting tearing up because I know that what we are doing and teaching is true and is a part of Gods plan! He said don't get emotion that's how you are deceived, you are just tricking yourself into believing in God. We looked him in the eye and said no, when we feel we are able to feel the love of God, that's how we know that God is real, we invited him to pray and ask God if he is real and listens to us, he said he already has but thanks for the invite. But he did bring up a good point. How do we really know, what if it is just our emotions? I am happy to say and to have the knowledge that when we are baptized and before we are baptised our loving Heavenly Father has given us his holy spirit to testify of what is true! That is one of the primary roles of the Holy Ghost :) So when we do pray to God to know if he is there and has a plan for us, when we feel feelings of peace, a light heart, or even just happiness we can have confidence and trust that that is Gods way of testifying in our hearts that it is truth for example that God is there, that his church was restored, and that the Book of Mormon is true :) I am so grateful to have received many answers from God the the Holy Ghost and how I used my agency to follow its promptings :) I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church on the earth because it was restored and has a living prophet :) Can´t wait to share with you about our next week of adventures! Love you all!!