Feliz Natal! I am very excited for Christmas. This week we had our Christmas zone conference in Recife! There are six zones, and each has a different day over two weeks, so we weren’t sure when we would get a conference. Usually I would probably want a Christmas-y thing like this as close to Christmas as possible, but I was kind of hoping that it would be a bit earlier to break up the week. But then our District leader was giving out assignments for our district meeting, and my companion was convinced this meant we would’t have it this week, because we don’t have district meetings when we have zone conferences and she figured he would know if we would have a zone conference. But then we got a text message on Tuesday during lunch saying that our zone conference would be Thursday! It was exciting.
Zone conference was awesome. I got to go to the Recife temple for the first time and loved it. It’s very beautiful, and any chance to go to the temple is special. I got to meet lots of other missionaries, which was fun.
We live several hours from Recife, and the last bus for Palmares leaves Recife at 5:30 pm, so we stayed overnight with some sisters in Imbiribeira. It was fun to get to know them. This is Sister Lima’s first transfer so she is newer in the mission than I am!
Oi! Happy Thanksgiving! Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving here, but they do celebrate Black Friday. All the shops had sales and the city center was a mad house. The gas station had a huge reduction in price and we could hear the loudspeaker from our house while we were trying to study. It’s a little sad to have Black Friday but not Thanksgiving, but on the bright side it means the Christmas decorations go up even earlier! There are lots of fake evergreen garlands and red bows and lights: pisca-pisca [Portuguese for blink, blink]. We bought some lights for our house! I will try to send a picture next week–I have more pics than I sent this week already and the internet is still super slow. I am trying to make the camera work [for wifi downloads] but am having trouble.
Sister Porcote and I will be together until after Christmas. That is normal for training — you have the same companion both transfers.
In the CTM [Brazil’s missionary training center] several missionaries in my district knew someone who went to Japan and said they came back more quiet, reserved, etc. I imagine that transition might have been a little easier for me. I am suspicious that Heavenly Father decided I needed to be more outgoing or more of a hugger or something and sent me here! But the transition hasn’t really been that hard. I’m really blessed not to be having health challenges or super hard things happening in Palmares.
You asked how often we get to eat with the members. We have lunch planned every day but it is often money instead of actual food. Less exciting than it sounds because we keep eating at restaurants and from my perspective the restaurants all seem the same. But the fruit is really good! And the members make really good desserts sometimes, so I´m grateful.
We have been trying to teach a young man, “Rafael” for a while, but kept having trouble actually finding him to teach because he is very busy. He goes to seminary every day, but works before seminary and goes to school after seminary! (School can be before lunch or after lunch or at night here). He is awesome — super interested in religion, really wants to follow God. The only problem is that he was reactivated in a different church a little while back and wasn’t sure if he wanted to change. Yesterday he said he hadn’t received an answer with certainty yet. He said he thought he wanted to get baptized but not yet because he wanted to keep participating in his other church´s youth program. But during our lesson he started crying and said he would get baptized on the 8th! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see someone get an answer to prayer like that. The promise is true — if you pray about the Book of Mormon with sincerity and a real desire to follow God’s will you will receive an answer! Sometimes it takes time, but it comes.