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.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Lord knows what we need

Dear Family,

Transfers are always crazy but this one more than ever before. Tuesday we showed up in Farol onde tem transferencias (where we have transfers). And President spoke and Sister Gonzaga spoke and the entire time I just wanted to find out if I was training or not. They finally got around to announcing the different duplas (companionships) which they do by area. They started with Sergipe and so by the time the got to Pajuçara I was really anxious. But they got to my zone and district. And said in Pajuçara Sister Smith Senior e Treinadora. Eu: WHAT. Presidente I think a mistake was made. I was told Sunday that I will stay in Pajuçara. Nope. Now I am in Cidade Universitario, a bairro in Maceio. It is a little bit more ghetto but I love this area already. The ward is bigger and the members are amazing. Our LO (leader da Obra) is amazing. But obviously the moment I found out I was actually going to a new area I got nervous because I will train in an area that I don´t know. But it turned out ok and I didnt have much time to worry because I need to go and pack my bags (which people usually do pday) and then pick up minha filha (my daughter-I think it means the junior companion). It was exactly like when I got my visa just one day before I left for Brazil. I didn´t have time to worry. I think the Lord knows that I can´t have a lot of time to worry about things.

Now about minha filha. This transfer was unique. Only two Elders arrived and 5 Sisters. 3 Americans, 1 Hispanic, 1 Brasileira. Well. I am training an Americana. Her name is Sister Barratt (photos to come next week. I have a lot to send). She is twenty and studied at BYU before the mission. She is from Dallas,Texas and tall and blonde. Needless to say we call a lot of attention to ourselves. I think more her than me. Her Portuguese is good for so short a time but I am still teaching almost sozinha (alone). This week I know the Lord as strengthened me to be able to understand and speak Portuguese better because I need to. This week was cool because after conversing with a member, He asked where we were from. When I said we were both Americans he looked surprised. He thought I was Brazilian. Made my day. 

I now live in a house (that is PINK) with 3 other sisters. I am the oldest one in the house. It is strange to go from being really young in comparison to my companions to now being the oldest (the other two sisters are both 19 and Brazilian thank goodness because they help us with our Portuguese and know where members live so we can eat. Que Benção! (What a blessing!) The other duple is training as well. The other sister has 6 months on the mission as well. We now have over 30 sisters in the mission.

This week was full of blessings. It was hard with all the traveling and showing up in an unknown area and working right away. This week we estavamos fazendo contatos na rua (were making contacts in the street) when it started to rain. When we left the house earlier the sky didn´t have a cloud so we didn´t have umbrellas. Well we finished talking to this elderly couple and started to walk away. We didn´t get very far when the man stopped us and gave us a big umbrella for us to use. The people really are extremely nice and giving. There is always a smile to be found and a helping hand near by. It warms my heart. 

I  love you all very much and hope that every day you can see how Heavenly Father blesses our lives. The blessings are numberless. We just have to try to see them. I know that you all are busy and life is crazy but just continue!
 Com muito amor,
Sister Martin

Transfers?! Already?!

Dear wonderful and crazily busy family,

It is normal for missionaries here to remain in an area for two transfers. Three is a long time but not super unusual. Four transfers is 6 months and A LONG time and kind of rare. Well guess who is staying in their first area for at least four transfers? this sister! I was shocked when I heard. I thought for sure I will be transferred. No one stays in this area that long. I was a little sad at first because I was looking forward to change and experiencing a new area but I am happy because we are working with more people and teaching more and our ward is getting a little more organized in its missionary efforts. But here is the thing. Six more sisters are arriving tomorrow. Vou treinar? Não sei mas é possível. (I train? I do not know but it is possible. - Thank you Google translate.) Crazy. This transfer went by really fast. I am having trouble keeping up with how fast the time is going! Next week I will send info sobre nova companheira (about new companion).

This week was good. We have been tracting a lot and working with a couple references from members. While tracting we found a man who seemed to have interest in receiving lessons. We asked if we could share a message with him and he said yes. Unfortunately he was home alone. At this point most people say "oh another day" and then lay low and hope we forget. But not Gilton. He said there was a small park near by. This park turned out to be a bench facing the beach. It was a beautiful setting to talk about the gospel and wasn't a distraction at all. It was amazing. 

We also had an emergency ward counsel just about missionary work. It was great to see every organization president in the ward working together to this end. To strengthen the ward. To get every family involved. Missionary work is done primarily by members and is so much more effective when the missionaries work side by side with members. Miracles happen.

I love you all and hope all is well. Have a great week!

Sister Martin

Villa dos Pescadores

Dear Family,

Do you ever have an experience where you see something and it is like a shock to your system? This one experience can change your perspective about life (as long as you remember but us frail humans tend to forget lessons that we learn - hence the principle of repetition). Tuesday we went to the villa dos pescadores or Fishermen's village. We had a list of recent converts/less actives that live there and we wanted to visit them and a recent convert works there. We heard it was a little dangerous there at night so we went right after lunch. As we were walking there we passed through one of the oldest parts of the city. The part that was obviously inhabited first by Europeans. There was a couple of big buildings with cool statues and cool architecture and lamp posts that were really decorated. 

Then we crossed the street.

The Villa is literally house after house made up of random pieces of wood. They are small open shacks on mud paths that are almost on the water. They have almost nothing. But their happiness was apparent. It was a lesson in humility and gratefulness. I walked away feeling incredibly blessed and incredibly selfish. I have been given so much by wonderful parents here on earth and by a wonderful Father in Heaven. I have every reason possibly to just be beaming with joy. 

That was one lesson learned this week. Of course there are others. Each week I learn a bounty of things that I often "learned" a week or two before. 

I love you all very much and I am so grateful for your letters and emails and the little details I learn from each. I am glad that everyone is healthy and well if not a little busy. 

Com muito amor
Sister Martin 

Why weepest thou?


Right now we have 5 American sisters and the rest are hispanic (Argentina and Chile mostly) or native. It is different with Elders. The percentage of Americans with Elders is much larger. 

This week we had Zone Conference. We have zone conference every three months and this was my second one here. Oshi! where has the time gone? I feel like every month passes by faster than the one before. I can´t believe it is already September. But I am also really excited! General Conference is coming up! (I can´t remember ever being this excited for conference). Anyway Zone Conference is great and we really learn a lot. The focus was how to work better with members. That really is the best way to do missionary work but that means that it isn´t very easy. 

This week we had problems with power. On Wednesday apparently a big part of the northeast was without power. The whole city was without power. The streetlights here don´t have back ups so it was VERY dark but we kept on going. I now know that I can make brownies in the dark! Who needs to see to bake? (Actually I do. The brownies turned out a little interesting). Thursday as we were showing and getting ready we lost power again but only for a 30 minutes and then Friday during the conference we lost power again. I made me think about all those times we lost power in Alabama and how we would have candles everywhere and that one time that we had a race to see who could blow out more candles and wax ended up all over someones face (aka Erica haha). I think now it is all settled and we won´t lose power again for awhile. 

There have been a lot of small changes that have been happening as well. We can´t use sandals any more for instance. (My feet miss my sandals but now I will get to have a cool picture with shoes with holes in the bottoms!) Another thing that changed is now we are to have personal study and companion study  on P-day. The full two hours. This means we have less time to do other things but really is a blessing. I feel like today I learned a lot. In John 20 Mary finds the tomb empty. Two times she is asked "Woman, why weepest thou?" I love this question. I can just imagine a gentle voice asking this with real curiousity. Why are you sad? Don´t you know that Christ lives? That He has overcome the world? How wonderful is this question for us now? When we are sad or have difficulties, why should we weep when we know that through Christ we can have eternal happiness. 

I am so grateful for my Savior and that through Him we can find peace in our lives now and for eternity. Life is hard and stressful and we will have sadness in our lives but this never changes the fact that we have a Father in Heaven that loves us and will always give us aid when we do our part. 

I love you all 
Sister Martin

And they went forth in fasting and prayer

Hello busy and wonderful Family,

Sometimes it is hard to believe how much y'all do in one semana. Your week sounded crazy but amazing and full of happiness.

My week started out interesting. Last Monday we went to Jatiuca and had lunch with the sisters there (it is a short walk and they are in our district). Well, when we got there they said they saw a rato (aka a mouse) in their house. Shudder. After we ate the mouse darted across the kitchen and hid under the trashcan. So naturally I stood on top of a chair filming with my companion and Sister Barra tried to kill it with a broom and a squigee. In the end they were successful but the video is really funny. There is a lot of dramatic screaming and me laughing in the background because I am safe on a chair. I will try to get the photos. Really I wish you could have been there. Very funny. 

On Thursday we had lunch assigned with a member but he switched days with another member who works at Hiper, the Brazilian Walmart. We arrived there and she was in a meeting. After an hour she came out and gave us 20 reais and said to go to a place near by. So we went there and begin getting our food (it was self-service) and there was a worker at the end of the line. When I get there she asks me if I speak English. She spoke in English. I was shocked into replying yes. My amazing increased as she said that she was American and could tell I was too (before I even said anything). The truly amazing part happened when I asked where she is from "South Boston" again a shocked reply from me of Me too! "Well actually I am from and hour south of Boston. Raynham" I was floored. I then tried to talk about the church in English and failed completely. but I got her number and went my way to eat in astonishment. I met someone in a relatively small city in Brazil that is from a town ten minutes away from my home. Crazy right? I also learned why I was called to a foreign speaking mission. English is hard. 

Well, though we had good experiences this week, this week was hard. A little harder then most. We are struggling to find new investigators. We are working with members, less actives, recent converts, and we are "batei portas"ing.(knocking on doors) And we still only had 1 new investigator. So we fasted. We started Saturday and worked. Sunday we went to houses to walk with people to church. They weren´t there. So we went onward to church, maybe a little discouraged (four weeks in a row without an investigator at church is unheard of and hard to accept). But then the miracle started. As we were walking to the chapel I saw someone walk past us that looked familiar but couldn´t place her. We sat down for Relief Society and in came the same girl with a member. 5 minutes later another member walked in with an investigator that lives really far from us. 5 minutes after that a woman walked in. She had a desire to learn more about the church and came alone. After Relief Society we had Dunday school and saw a recent convert that had brought a friend to church. I was overwhelmed. Prayer and fasting together really are powerful and our Heavenly Father answers prayers. 

I know y'all are busy and life is crazy but I want you to know that where ever you are and whatever you are feeling, Heavenly Father knows you. He knows where you are and hears your prayers. He is reaching out to us and wanting to help us. When we reach out to Him, we receive great blessings. Sometimes they are hard to recognize or come later then we want. But they do come. Always. 

I love you and I am so grateful for your love and support. 
Com um grande amor,
Sister Martin