My name is Diana Martin and I am a not so secret agent for the Lord in beautiful Maceio, Brazil. I am serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 18 months.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Emotions

Oh wonderful Family,

Yes. It rains a lot. But apparently it is only during a three month span. Yesterday, it started pouring on our way to church. I had just read the talk from General Conference about the optimistic roommate and so I started singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning and laughed at myself because there was no one else that could understand why that song was funny. Laughing is important (see Come What May by ...Elder Wirthlin?).

If I don´t speak people think I am from Southern Brazil. There are a lot more white people in southern Brazil. Here it is pretty rare to see a white woman. White middle aged men is a little more common. 

My normal day. Each day is very different. Sometimes we have so many lessons that we practically run to each one and other days each appointment caiou - "falls", I don´t remember the proper English term for this. I will tell you a story about my week that demonstrates my normal day. One day when we didn´t have many appointments we batei portas (knock doors?) and we have only had to do this twice so it was pretty rare. The fourth door we found a 13 year old girl and we taught the first lesson. Two weeks later we are still teaching her and we met four girls on the same street who are all cousins and friends with the first girl Carina. We find people through other people. You kind of just stumble upon them. It is so sad however when they decide not to continue taking lessons. It is devastating. Because you love them and you know God loves them but they always have the choice. 

For the English class I just had basic conversations with the people that are a little more advanced. It went well And I liked it a lot. I was so tempted to teach them y'all but I wasn´t the main teacher so  I didn´t. 

Oh the food. Seriously, amazing. The other day a member fed us the best potatoes I have ever tasted. Ever. They also always have really good juices and dolces. In casa nos cook eggs (yes I like eggs now) and bread! Always fresh. More rice. A lot of fruit. Last week I had a burger!

I can send pictures. It is hard time wise but next week I promise to send some pictures. 

Emma, I am sorry about the scratch on your face and hope it heals. Alyssa I am proud of you for reading Pride and Prejudice! Stick with it girl! Garrett, how tall are you? 

I have officially been in Brazil for a month. This place feels like I have always been here (until I remember something like Oklahoma the musical and can´t describe it to my companion.) It is hard but I love ever minute of it. The sprirt makes all the difference in a lesson. Thursday we taught two first lessons back to back to two girls that are friends and around the same age. The first lesson was a struggle and there were a lot of distractions (Matilda was on) and it was very difficult to focus. The spirit was not there. She did not accept batismal marcada. The second lesson just ten minutes later was very different. Less distractions. More focus. The Spirit was there. She practically jumped at the chance to be baptized. After the lesson, Sister Moraes commented on how my Portuguese was amazing during the lesson - all because of the Spirit. 

I love you very much and hope that each day you feel the Spirit in your lives.  President Monson said that missions were family affairs and I hope your side is going well! 
Love,
Sister Martin

Support

Dear loving family,

Playing the piano was just about the scariest thing I have ever done. But I did it and the ward chorister was excited. I messed up a lot and the G key doesn´t work which makes it a little difficult and I felt good about it afterward. Until one of the young men got up and played after the meeting. He was great! But he refuses to play in sacrament meeting.

Thursday night I performed another sort of duty to support the ward. Actually another ward. There are two wards that meet in our building. The other ward was having a talent show. Do you know the cup song? Anyway Sister Moraes and I and two girls from our ward performed it (with the Presidents permission of course). It was really fun and embarassing. It was great. The show started with practically no one here but by half way through more people were there then normally go to church it was crazy and so much fun. I think the members really enjoyed it and there were several investigators there as well. The Elders in the other ward were pleased.

Oh! This Thursday I get to help teach English! The Elders have an English class and want my help. I am so excited because a lot of people here want to learn and I actually know how to speak it! Sort of. The other day a recent convert wanted to hear me pray in English. So I did. It was my first time to pray out loud in English in two months. It was surprisingly difficult. 

Funny story for the week:
In the MTC, we were told that people were going to flirt with us and hit on us but to just try to ignore it or walk away. I was in the church building and people from the other ward were there as well. We are getting ready to leave when a guy from the other ward starts talking to me. Usually I can understand what people say or get the gist at least but sometimes I still don´t understand a word. This time I had no idea what he was saying so I just nodded and smiled and my companion pulled me away. Once out side, She started laughing really hard and explained to me that he was hitting on me. Oops. It is pretty funny and embarassing as well. But I am rare here. I think I have seen one other white person. But I am not white now and yes I do have some crazy tan lines. My favorite is actually my watch tan line.

People here live in "houses" They are actually really hard to describe but basically long thin open spaces. There are no spaces in between houses and each house usually has quite a few people in it. It is very difficult to try to guess familial relations because everyone lives together! It is crowded but people are generally happy and love living together. The city is huge and our area is more of the outskirts and residential area. We have beach! I caught a glimpse again this week and it made me happy. I have no idea what the temperature is here but it isn´t too bad. The other day it was really windy and almost cold. It felt really good.

I hope I answered all your questions. If not, sorry. Ask again because I get confused.

This week with investigators was incredible. I don´t know if it is because I can understand more or if I am less focused on trying to understand but this week I could just feel God´s overwhelming love for each and everyone of his children. Members and investigators and people that don´t want to hear what we have to say. I love the people here for myself and I can feel God´s love for them too and it is amazing. I just want them all to be happy and to not have any problems which of course is not possible. But I can hope right?

I love you all and am so excited for you. Oh and Happy Fathers day!

Love,
Sister Martin

The Brazilian Life and Mom Was Right

Dear wonderful Family,

The work is going. We are working with several individuals that are on their way to conversion and they are simply amazing. We are putting a lot of time into working with recent converts and less actuve members. In the last three months in this ward there have been 10 convert baptisms and yesterday only one was at church. Larissa is so strong and her strength is impressive. After church we went around visiting those that didn´t go and leaving them with messages and encouragement. We are teaching a lot of people that are all in different stages of life. It is incredible to see no matter what a person´s age is or what they are going through at this moment - they all can find peace in the evangelho. (Not sure what this word is-Kimi)

Oh, guess who is now the ward pianist? That´s right. This missionary. I hope you get a good laugh about this. Because when I am not scared I think it is very funny. During my childhood Mom would say "you should practice because one day at church they will need someone to play the piano and you will be it" Well that day has come. It is hard because they do not have music in the schools here so no one can read music or sing really. Hymns are an interesting experience. I giggle. 

We  each have a debit card (Bank of America - isn´t that funny) and we get more money on it twice a month. We don´t have to pay for our rent - the president takes care of that - I think. 

Dad you asked if I can believe I have already been out for two months and sometimes I feel like it has only been a couple of weeks and other times it is hard to even remember that there was life before the mission. This is life. 

The language is coming. Slowly but surely. Each week I understand a little more. Some days it is almost easy to speak in Portuguese and other times it is pretty difficult but when it matters I can speak about the gospel with Heavenly Father´s help. No dreams in Portuguese yet!  Puxa vida. 

Oh interesting fact. Brazilians here - or at least my companion- put ketch up and mayonaise on EVERY thing. Like Pizza and grilled meat and steak. But everytime someone finds out that I am from America they ask three questions 1. do you like it here? 2- do you like the food? 3. Does everyone in America eat burgers for lunch each day. Food is normally on the brain. 

As President Ucthdorf says always remeber "You are important. You are loved. You are NEEDED" no matter if you are a missionary a business man, a mom, or a kid, you can do a great work. You can look around you and see those that need your help and you can offer service. You are important. 
(this made me think of the Help - You is smart, you is kind, you is important. It is true).

I love you all and thank you for your prayers
Sister Martin

Barbie

My companion is from Rio de Janeiro and doesn´t speak English, which is good else I would be tempted to speak English more. The couple times I have spoken English, it is really hard to slip back into Portuguese. which is improving and I could even understand people better this week!  Unfortunately Sister Barra left our trio and she was the one that knew the area. So spent alot of this week walking and trying to find people that we had lessons with.  But we know the area a lot better now. This week will be great.

The food here is great, but different. For every meal we have beans, rice, and noodles. Spaghetti noodles. Weird combination right? But it is really good. 

The ward is good but it is hard to get recent converts to continue to come to church. There are a lot of members who have been members their whole lives and served missions and are a strength for the new converts. 

I laugh that it is so cold in Maine! Yesterday, it got "cold" here. It actually just poured rain and there was a river in all the streets. It was pretty intense. We looked pretty funny in our skirts and rain coats and water up to mid calf. Perfect missionary weather. 

This week was kind of unusual because we had Zone conference and because I went to the police station. Zone conference is held every 3 or 4 months and it lasted all day and I didn´t understand most of what was said but we were well fed and I met people that spoke English! which is kind of a rarity. It was funny because I have never seen sisters so dressed up. Zone conference is like prom for the sisters. Just minus the dancing part. On Thursday I went to the police station to be registered as an American that is certified to be here in Maceio and got to see Sister Smith! aka my first companion in the MTC. It was so good to talk to her and actually be able to tell stories about people we both know and be able to understand each other. It was fun but it was nice to go back to my companion and speak in Portuguese again. 

Last week we were stopped in the street by a woman and she asked us to come back later and teach her. We were amazed and so excited. Yes! she wants to be taught! baptism! But when we got to her house later in the week, it turned out to be the weirdest lesson ever. Apparently, she already knew lots of stuff and just wanted to ask all these weird and unnecessary questions but we tried to answer them the best we could. The part that was really odd was that she kept touching my skirt, saying it was beautiful, and calling me Barbie. I might be the first white person she has ever seen. 

I loved to hear how everything is going and hope you are all doing well. I love you so much!

Love 
Sister Martin