Monday, March 27, 2017

I'm channeling my Inner Mr. Taylor this week....

Well, no personal letters, or any photos, this week because the stupid, free computers here in the library don't have an SD card slot. But just know that I love you guys and that you'll have lots to read next week! Also, I'm gonna try to buy a USB converter. Haha

Well. This week was good. 

This week, we went door-knocking for the first time in forever and found a woman named Regina. After the lesson, she said that normally she doesn't like to let people in, like she did with us, but that she felt like she needed to let us in and listen. WHHAAATTTTT? Well, yeah, it happened. And we haven't been able to find her at home since, it's pretty normal, but we will visit again this next week.

We have been teaching this woman, Zazá (Glenir) for 4 weeks now, since the first week of the transfer. She has cancer and lives with her 17 yr old daughter, Samuely, who has Down Syndrome. It's been a battle with her, a little. She always reads and understands really well, but she was raised very catholic so she has a hard time accepting and usually can never go to church because Samuely is afraid of church and never lets Zazá go. Well, this week, we were fasting and praying that we would get someone to church this week, and when I called Saturday night to ask if she needed a ride, Samuely said that she would go. And they went. And it was the best. Fast and Testimony meeting ever because all the youth went to FSY* a week ago AND everyone went to the temple with the caravan recently so there was a lot about receiving answers to prayers and eternal families. Good stuff. (Also, the great thing about Brasil is that Fast and Testimony meetings are always super full. Everyone races to share their testimonies. My ward has an attendance of about 60 people and we never had that awkward time where no one is speaking, and we went over so everyone on the stand could speak. And it was like that in Jardim do Sol too. BOMB!!!) *FSY (For the Strength of Youth) conferences are multi-stake youth activities held under the direction of Area Presidencies.  

I am the new Mr. Taylor* in my ward. I somehow turned into the ward choir director and, TBH** it's SUPER FUN. I love it and them so so much. We have some pretty awesome songs that we're practicing for Stake Conference. They are improving so so much too. It's awesome to see. It's my favorite thing that happens during the week. **Internet slang meaning "To be honest." *He was the Choir director at Mountain View HS.

Chris and Eduardo, SA's favorite members which we visit every day, have a daughter, Gabi, who loves me. I am her human-sized doll. She generally begs to brush my hair and put makeup on me. Lol. This week, I let her put purple lipstick on me. And... I actually really liked it. I'm down to try out the purple again! Haha, she's great.

Also, mom, don't freak out, I eat dark chocolate and tomatoes* by myself now. Hahahaha it's weird. Also, I ate potato salad that had raisins and bananas and it was actually pretty good. *She's always hated them. Yay for newfound maturity and new taste buds! (I hear every 7 years you have a whole new set of taste buds, not all at once, mind you.)

Ok, that's it now. Just know that the Lord answers prayers in big and little ways and that we're blessed for doing our part. Man, so much good stuff, so little time. This week, I finished up the book of Alma (in português, woot!). Alma 56 is great. It talks about the 2000 jovens* and it's super inspiring for me. Hope it is for you too! *2000 stripling warriors (jovens translates to 'youth'.)

Love you guys so so so much and hope you have a great week! Miss you guys like crazy!!!!! 

-Sister Hartman

Sunday, March 19, 2017

No water, no worries and a Happy Birthday!

The Adventures continue here in Dom Pedrito. It's really calm but still really exciting. As a missionary it's perfect. I think I would get really bored here if I wanted to do fun things because it's a very low-key, chill life. Very Gaucho! It should start getting cold at the end of the month; March is like our September. I'm in the third week of my third transfer on the mission. Just nine more to go! I'll have been a missionary for 6 months in April! Woohoo!

Answering questions:
We're on the 4th floor of our apartment so we have a fantastic view. I get to see every sunrise and lots of sunsets from here. I take a lot of pictures of the sky- it's always amazing but it doesn't turn out right in pictures. We lost our water here, so no showers. This will be interesting. Our apartment isn't too bad. And we don't have to worry about surprise visits; we're at least seven hours from the mission office and an hour away from any other missionaries! It's funny that you guys washed dishes in the tub. I find the tub / shower is the most useful place ever. I do laundry there!

The church building is pretty small and doesn't have a big ugly wall around it (just a gate) or an alarm system. Just goes to show how much safer it is here. The  baptismal font is Tiny, like hit-your-head-on-the-wall-hazard tiny. At one point there were four sets of missionaries here and two Wards. Now there's just one ward and one set of missionaries (us!) and a whole lot of reactivation. It's pretty funny because almost everyone in the world is related. There's a family with 14 kids, which is TV-show-rare here, and all their families are who we're working with. Some of our current investigators are relatives of them too. Haha.

This town is cleaner, has fewer dogs, same amount of horses or more, plus more trees and flowers.
There are different churches on almost every street corner. There's a supermarket a few blocks away and we will go there to make purchases during Pday, but there's a little corner market in front of her house if we need a *bolacha or something. *Translation: cracker, but really a Brazilian cookie.

My companion has been out for a year and 3 months and is really excited to go home. She's the first companion that wanted to run in the mornings (we ran 1 block because of time), which I'm pretty sure we'll never do again, but hey we tried. The only food she buys is corn kernels and fruit. So dinner is usually popcorn and fruit except we already ate all the fruit so now it's just popcorn. She has a fantastic testimony. She got baptized when she was 10, left the church, and was reactivated by the missionaries three years ago. She is motivated to baptize people but not just because of the number. We teach really well together and we work hard every day.

Sister Johansson, our Sister Training Leader, called. Today we will have a split with them and we're going to Bagé (birthday miracle! President cut our monthly travel budget so we wouldn't be going to Bagé this week without this split.) I'm spending the rest of my birthday with Sister Ampuero (so far the only word I have for her is "fancy".) I like her!

🍰   🍨  My birthday was THE best day of my life! The zone presented me with a cake and the birthday Jong (Portuguese and English). I'm the bus I zoned out thinking about it and sister Bagatoli asked me if Dom Pedrito was making me crazy because I was smiling to myself. I said I was thinking about my blessings and promptly burst into tears. Sister Bagatoli and sister Ampuero got me presents. We just had a fantastic weekend! When we switched back, SA bought me ice cream.

I've been spending a lot of time on my knees and in my scriptures. I am really liking the character of Christ self evaluation thing. I actually did it today. I was surprised to find that *patience is my weakest  also (I was expecting humility). I think it's valuable tool for everyone.
*I told her about my own evaluation. Patience is my Achilles heel apparently.

I firmly believe that missionary work extends beyond the area where a missionary serves. Lots of people let us in simply because they have a friend or met someone once that was Mormon. I think that's way cool! The Lord knows what he's doing, to put it simply- lots of lives change for the better (or worse, if they are deciding to leave the church.)

I am so blessed! There are so many people in my zone that are really helping me out and so many great things happened this week. I listened to elder Holland's talk about missionary work and I'm just moving all the music you sent with me. I'm loving the work and I'm learning A LOT!

Love you guys so much! Thanks for all the support you give. I pray for you every single day.

Até próxima semana!

Happy 2-0 to me!

Com carinho,
 Sister Hartman

(How cool that there's a missionary with your last name, Dad! I won't let you down!)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I don't know what I did, but there's a cat on my lap...and it really loves me

Ice cream even in the countryside
So I'm in Don Pedrito now and I love my area. The 'city' is Tiny, super safe, super clean, super pretty, and super *Gaucho. Uruguay is 30 minutes away. We're far away from everything. On the map, our ward boundaries are larger than my whole other Zone at Rio Grande. I'm giving my shoes another week. The ground is rocky and I'll be showing holes by the end of the transfer. Maybe by next p-day! But, the weather isn't too terrible. *Cowboy

We've got a fantastic ward. It's pretty strong - about 60 people every week. And people actually show up on time! What a blessing. There's such a good feeling in this ward. Sacrament meeting is a spiritual experience. I play the piano. The Lord is really blessing this ward because he sent to piano players here back-to-back. Also, I've never played better in sacrament meeting and I know it's the Lord.

The people are more humble here. Everyone works on the farms. Cars are horrible here. (Think *Jetta in age and functionality.) I'm always afraid that the cars will explode. The people are great. I'm loving the work here and I'm so happy. Our apartment has a few issues- no washing machine, the toilet has issues, sometimes we don't have water, we have roaches, etcetera- but it has the best view ever! I love it so much. Sunrises and sunsets are so awesome here. *Her car that cost $5, Thanks, Emily! It wasn't a looker and it had some issues, but it got her everywhere she needed to go. Until one day when it blew up. Clearly, no need to fear since she's alive and well, but exciting nonetheless.

My companion is Sister Yesenia Agurto from Santiago, Chile. She was reactivated three years ago and has a fantastic testimony and lots of experiences that connect with investigators. She's super beautiful and really cares about people. We have some differences but we still find and teach people well.

Feeling the love for this cat!
The language is going super well. The food... we got nothing at home and no money til Wednesday so we'll see. What's going on up there in Utah. (This computer doesn't have a *question mark.)  I don't know what I did, but there's a cat on my lap right now. In the lan house. And it really loves me. LOL #TenderMercies *There are a lot of keys either missing or that don't work properly and there isn't a key, period, for the question mark, LOL. This is pretty normal for Brazil.

Lots of great experiences this week: Lots of new investigators, 14, in fact. Which is super bomb. The power of *Jejum!!!!! We fasted Saturday so that we can have a lot of people at sacrament meeting: we had 4 people come! (I've never had 4 in 1 meeting before so that's super exciting.) Our pesquisador, Alice, is super great. She brought her sister and a friend and we're going to visit them on Wednesday. Fabio could be baptized today if he wanted, he's super ready. Just waiting on a little thing called 'an answer to prayer' about the Book of Mormon. *Fasting

I read Alma 34 and that has helped me. I'm doing really well.  The thing that makes me happy is the work, so I've been working very diligently and we're seeing some great fruits. Maybe some converts coming soon!  Also, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting and it went 1000% better this time.  I still cry when I  bear my testimony. Haha.  ( I think the tears alarmed Alice, our pesquisador, because usually I'm super happy when we teach her. LOL)

I know that we're being seriously guided by the Holy Ghost and marking a lot of baptisms. And walking a ton. The work is really progressing and I'm super excited about all the *changes to our schedule and stuff. The church is true and God is good! Keep up the prayers! Miss you guys and love you guys like crazy. *The church made some changes to the missionaries daily schedules, allowing more flexibility. You can read about it here:

Miss and love you guys. hope you all have a great week!

- sister Hartman

It's country!
Searching for golden contacts
I think I found some
Brazilian fashion suits me, don't ya think?
Excuse me, we're having a moment here

Monday, March 6, 2017

Heavenly Father has really been helping me out. Even though we're supposed to only have 3 trips to Bage this transfer, it's looking like we're going to have all 6. It's crazy awesome. They're feeding us pretty well in our area.
The grossest thing I've eaten... I don't know. Probably the xis coracao (it's xis with chicken hearts) . I don't super love the flavor of chicken hearts, but I'm trying so hard to! Best thing I've eaten was hands down my birthday cake. It was bomb. I also ate a gourmet churro - the dough was pressed and fried in front of me and it was filled with dulce de leche and chocolate and was covered with other chocolatey things. Also we are a pretty dang good lasagna recently.

My piano playing is getting much better, especially my sight reading. I learned a new hymn the other week. I usually practice during the week when we have nothing planned. Choir practice is getting better. Honestly, it's generally a fiasco because I have no idea what I'm doing, but I take a lot of joy out of it.

Happy Presidents Day! Dinner at Tucanos! Man. True Brazilian food. The chicken hearts are authentic. And pao de qeijo. Everything else is better here. (Here the only seasoning that's used for churrasco is a butt load of salt.)

You asked about approaches. A typical approach is "hi! Good afternoon. How are you? Pleased to meet you. Just to introduce ourselves, we're representatives of Jesus Christ and we have a message centralized on him. Could we share this message with you and your family today?"  (Wow, it's weird to write that in English.)  All of our approaches are more or less that.

What are our hurdles? Everyone is an Evangelist. Their pastors have more power on them then they do over themselves. People don't like change. People don't like to go to church Sunday mornings, etcetera, etcetera. When we have no one to visit, we stop by houses of the people we know or door knock. We have lunch every day with members and my comp likes the members a lot so we spend a good amount of time with them. The rest of our time is more focused on finding and teaching then less actives, but it's relatively balanced. There are a ton of less actives here. There used to be two wards here but now there's just one.

Thanks for the birthday wishes! I actually ate a lot of Cake. The Zone sang to me and got me a cake and I bought a cake to eat at fhe with some members and a couple of other missionaries got me gifts! Seriously, I'm so blessed. I'm so glad I was born in our family. Sorry I wasn't there to celebrate my birthday with you guys. My celebration was just the cakes, but President and Sister Cruz called and sang to me during the day so that was great.

I saw that you sent this email at 2 a.m. ish. I was probably waking up that day around that time. Haha. If I'm learning anything, it's the importance of sleep. You've got to sleep before 2 a.m., mom! Sure miss you. You know I love you right? Because I super do. Thanks for the support. All those prayers are paying off! Having lots of good times. The church is true!

Until next week,

Sister Hartman