Sister Acosta and I are staying in Sousa together! WOOOOHOOOO! Although there will be another mid-transfer transfer at the end of April and Elder Sabin and Sister Acosta both think I will be a trainer seeing that there are a lot of new Sister missionaries that will come in then. Wow. A little bit scary! My Portuguese is getting better, but I still don't understand everything people say and oftentimes still just smile and nod as people talk. Elder Padgett, my district leader at the MTC, is in Brazil, and Sister Young, my first companion, is arriving today! I probably won't see them for a while, but when I do, I will be really excited.
I received all of the packages y’all sent me last week. Thank you so much! I truly loved them. Just to let you know, you can get [most stuff] here. The only thing you can't get here is good contact lens solution and peanut butter is expensive.
Along with the packages, I received a postcard from a less active couple I visited once with Sister Fowler and Sister Culp in Christiana. I sent them a postcard when I first got here asking them how they were doing and encouraging them to go to church and to have the Sister missionaries over for dinner (they were both chefs on a cruise line before). In their postcard to me, they enthusiastically told me that they loved my postcard and were now regularly attending church meetings and spending time with the two new sister missionaries and went to a member’s house for dinner with the sisters the other day. I was so excited when I found out! I have been writing to less active members in TN since I got here, and this is the first time I received a response. I may be in Brazil right now, but I will never forget my love for the people of TN.
General Conference was amazing! I wrote down some questions that I wanted help with before conference:
1. How can I help my investigators feel the Spirit more? myself?
2. What can I do to be more worthy of my calling?
3. How can I trust in the Lord more?
4. How can I be more patient? humble? grateful? Christ-like?
5. What is my purpose here as a missionary? is it just to baptize?
6. How can I distinguish what my investigators need?
7. How can I respect my leaders more?
8. How can I forget myself?
9. How can I be more bold and proactive yet loving as well?
10. How can I lift and build up my companion/fellow missionaries?
11. How can I help others "perseverar até o fim?" [endure to the end]
I watched some of general conference in Portuguese and some of it in English. I was kind of scared to watch it in Portuguese. The voice-over translation was in a way that I could still hear a little bit of the English, but I still didn't understand everything. I did notice however, that when I did listen in Portuguese, I picked up on key words that helped me set goals for myself and the wonderful people I am teaching and working with.
For example, during Rosemary M. Wixom's talk in Women's Conference, I wrote, "O convenio batismal é uma promessa muito importante e sagrada. Uma parte de meu propósito como uma missionaria é para ajudar meus pesqusadores entender a importancia deste convenio antes de batismo e ajudar eles continuam lembrar e guardar este convenio depois de batismo então eles pode prepara para fazer mais convenios e perseverar até o fim." During Presidente Uchtdorf's talk during the Priesthood Session (yes, I was able to watch that), I wrote, "Eu preciso ser mais gratoa em qualquer circunstancia O Senhor me da. Em vez de focando nas coisas eu não tenho, eu preciso tomar o tempo para focar nas coisas O Senhor ja me deu. Como Nefí quado ele teve dificuldades, ele ainda foi grato." All of my questions were answered during conference and I was really grateful for the Spirit I was able to feel during those two amazing days.
Yesterday, Elder A., our district leader, left for Natal and will return home to Argentina, after serving here for two years, on Thursday. It was so hard to say goodbye to him. It is weird how quickly you grow to love the people you serve with here. When Elder A. first got here, Sister Acosta [did not especially like] him because our first week here, he [was somewhat rude] when he called us to ask us about our numbers and I, of course, had to loathe him a bit as well, seeing that Sister Acosta is my "Mainha" (Mommy) here. But as we got to know him, we soon began to forgive him and started to love him. He became Sister Acosta's "filho" (son) and my "irmão" (brother).
Elder A. helped me a lot this transfer. He changed the way I saw my mission as he listened to me describe my feelings about my mission in TN and our mission here and helped me understand and change these feelings. When he gave his mission farewell testimony during zone conference two weeks ago, it was the first mission farewell testimony during which I cried.
Because of Elder A., my vision for my mission is so much greater. The night before he left, we all went out to have açai. Elder A. noticed that I was a bit out of it and finally made me tell him what was up. I just told him that I was a bit concerned about one of our investigators. When he called us that night he asked to speak with me and spent 10 minutes talking to me about my concerns and helping me understand what I should do to help my investigator in the best way I could.
When he left yesterday, it was really hard for all of us to say goodbye. I was able to hold in my tears until he got on the bus (Sister Acosta failed), but as the bus drove off, we saw him waving at us through the window and excitedly demonstrating the baptism hand signal. That's when my tears came. Elder A.'s motto on his mission was, "Quando você esta triste...sô batisa! Quando você esta cansado...sô batisa! Quando você esta com raiva...sô batisa!" [when you’re sad…just baptize! When you’re tired…just baptize! When you’re angry… just baptize!]
Today, our district will change up. But I will always remember Elder A.'s motto. He will definitely "voltar com honra" [return with honor] tomorrow.
Ashley (second from right) and roommates
Ashley (second from left in front) and colleagues
Ashley (second from right) and colleagues