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.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Just keep swimming...

Dear Family,

That is really funny that you saw Elder Lopez again! His brother is actually the ward mission leader in my ward. Yesterday he asked me about his brother. Really small world.

My companion is doing better. This week there wasn´t any gluten in the food we ate so it was a good week.

Story. We began teaching a brother and sister that just moved here from interior do Alagoas and they live Very humbly. Well we taught them the first lesson and gave them the pamphlet of the Restoration even though they couldn´t read. We returned two days later and the pamphet was nailed to the wall open to the page of Joseph Smith receiving the priesthood. I was shocked and thought it was pretty funny at the same time.

We have been really struggling to find new investigators this week. A big challenge. There are many aspects of missionary work that can be hard and there are a lot of things like you need to remember and be aware of. But every area has its different challenges. Here the members are very involved and help a lot but it is hard to find people to teach. I spent today studying PME about how to find people. And the two most important things about finding is FAITH and having the Spirit. And it is amazing how sometimes you take the responsiblity upon yourself to find people (what techniques. who to talk to. what to say) when really you need to have faith and the Spirit. When you believe that the Lord is preparing people and when you know that the Lord will help you find those people of course you will find them! of course people will be put in your path! And you have more excitement to get out and find those that are ready. You see the Lord blessing you more. Everything is better basically. I loved your story, dad, about praying for missionary opportunities. And they appeared. You had faith that you would find the chance to talk about the gospel, and you were ready to talk about it. So it happened! Amazing. Our Heavenly Father is an amazing one isn´t He? Sometimes I stand all amazd at how He has so much time to help each and every one of us. How organizd He is.

Well anyway after that rant....

Time has been passing so fast. We are here in the last week of this transfer and we are more determined to work than ever before. I know that I will have stories about miracles to share soon.

I love you all and wish you a very good week!

Com amor e carinho
Sister Martin

More pictures



I thought the tan lines in this picture were funny

Bowling masters
I tried on the pants of another sister (we celebrated New Years wearing jeans) and well, they were not cute. I looked more like Steve Urkle.


The pyramid was not easy

My shoes

The poor sister's blow dryer. The best part is that my hands are free to do things like read Jesus the Christ.


So this past year I had a little calender that was always in my planner to help me mark dates for baptisms. This is me unutilizing it







The start of something good

Dear Family,

First of all - Happy New Year. I hope this year started of wonderfully for you all.

Second of all. I bought new shoes about an hour ago and my feet are very happy. I did take a picture of my shoes before I dumped them in the trash and I will send it to yoou soon.

We are still in the same apartment and the apartment we were going to rent was given to another person so we are starting over and the search for an apartment.

This week was hard and amazing and fun and full of hard times.  So it was full of ups and downs. Therefore it was like almost every week of the mission. New Years Eve we returned home a little early to avoid drunk people and other shananigans in the streets and we had a party in casa. We made dinner we laughed and sang in three different languages and made a human pyrimad and talked about our goals for this next year. We also got to watch some of the fireworks that went off from our apartment. (most people go to the beach and watch a real fireworks show). It was awwesome. New Years Day was almost eerie. There was NO ONE outside. the streets were deserted. I felt like it was a old western film and I was just waiting for a tumbleweed to cross the street. Despite the emptiness we were able to begin teaching Bauer (like Jack Bauer minus the Jack and a woman) She is in her late 30´s and has had a VERY rough life. Three months ago her son was murdered when she lived in Salvador. After his death she moved with her daughter whose father abandoned the family and has problems with drinking and drugs. She is living alone and knows no one. But one thing she has a lot of is Faith. She is keeping strong and seeing her respond to the Plan of Salvation and our other lessons is amazing. We cried together as we talked about the plan that God has for us and that Families can be eternal. It is times like that that reminds me how important this plan is for us. How important it is that we know about this plan. (Alma 24;14). God gave us this knowledge for our happiness. So that we can know that death is not an end. Just a change of location. A change of scenery.

This week was also a little difficult in that it was hard to find people that want to hear our message but this week I also got to thinking about Elder Holland´s talk from April General Conference 2012 "the first Great Commandment" He talks about Peter and Christ when Christ asked three times if Peter loved him. "then feed my sheep" was Christ´s response after every affirmative from Peter. Elder Holland emphasizes that question. Do you love me? Are your actions showing that you love me? And even though times are hard and maybe disappointing I know I can´t give up. I never want anyone, let alone my Heavenly Father or Christ, have to ask if I love them. It should be apparent in my actions.  In my dedication to doing what is right and helping others know and feel of their  love as well. When I want to sit and take a short break I think "Do you love me?" and I am  motivated to keep going.

This week a new year started. A new chance to get better. To  be better. To do more. A new chance to show our love. I am excited for this year and the possiblities that come with 2014. We are at the start of something good.

Love you all.
Sister Martin

The Mormon world is a small world

Dear family,

I absolutely loved being able to talk with you this week. It was oddly close to being at home with you all. It was amazing to hear your voices and everything but I am also excited that things are going to calm down and be normal. Better for working!

I wanted to show you all my shoes but I forgot and so I will describe them instead. So when I found out we couldn´t use sandles anymore I bought two pairs of shoes. One I started using right away and was comfortable. Well after 3 months they started to get holes in the bottoms so I tried using the other type which gave me really bad blisters so I went back to using the other ones. The holes got bigger and I needed to do something because the holes were getting ridiculous. So I took out the inserts of the other shoes cut them down and put them in the shoes I have been using. Now the inserts are getting holes. They are a pretty funny and ghetto looking sight to see.

So this Saturday we had a ward church activity for Christmas. And it was funny because it reminded me of the activities we have for the 4th of July. There was a pool for swimming (obviously we missionaries didn´t swim) and BBQ and card games and people sweating and soccer instead of baseball. I got to talking to one of the members there. He asked where I was from. I said MA. Well, he has a son that is serving in the Boston MA mission. Do you all remember an Elder Lopez? Yup I met his dad and his twin baby brothers and his step brother who looks exactly like Jacob Black. Its a small world after all. Also. One of the member´s grandmas was visiting and so she went to the activity as well. Do you remember Elder Anderson´s talk at general conference about a woman in Brazil whose husband wouldn´t let her go to church but she sent her children and so on? Yeah she is a pretty cool lady. We got to have lunch with her yesterday after church and she has some amazing stories and she cooks really well. 
I love you all and wish you a Happy New year! Miracles happen when you set goals and work hard so I know that this year will be a good one and you all can acomplish your new year´s resolutions!

Love Sister Martin

Pictures


The ward activity was a little far away and we walked a long time on a dirt road so good times for photos right?





Presents under the tree?


Instant snow in a cup! thank you Sister Eneida!

Our little Christmas tree next to our mound of cookies (that is only half of the ones we made).


Our Christmas meal with Irmã Nadja and family.

Minha filha and me at the Christmas conference and a bad picture of me and Sister Barra but I love her and this photo.
With her companion Sister Chilson

With Sister Barra

A White Christmas?

Dear Family,

Thanks for the photos! oh my goodness snow. I had forgotten what it looks like! And I really can´t imagine what it feels like. The rare times I am even in an air conditioned room I get cold.

The new area is going. I know where I am going and I know the area but it is a little more difficult then areas in the past because really there are only apartments. So you have to rely on members and talking to people in the street which means you teach less which is hard because in my last area we had record numbers of lessons. But I know that it isn´t the number that matters and that I am still doing my very best I can with the circumstances and thats what matters. I just have to change my thought process.

This week was a lot better with Sister Chilson as well. New areas, apartments, and companions are big changes and sometimes require time to adjust. Now we are working better together and learning. Portuguese is a struggle still for her but we have a lot of help in our house! (ainda estamos na mesma casa. [We are still in the same house] Que droga né? [When I put this into google translate it came up as "d&%n right". Not quite sure what she meant.-Kimi]) 

They don´t have a midnight service here at church. Maybe Catholics do actually. But church yesterday was a little weird because Christmas was barely even mentioned and very little said about the birth of Christ so I am still in a state of unbelief that it is Christmas time (and that I am halfway through my mission). The missions conference was cool with a talent show and spiritual thoughts from President and Sister Gonzaga (which is good because we weren´t able to watch the Christmas Devotional so I needed something, right?) It was crazy with the entire mission together. There were so many missionaries in one place! And all the sisters were dressed up and pretty which is cool because normally we are lookin pretty rough in the hot sun. I am even more excited about this week. Today we are going to make cookies to take to the members that help us so much and we will sing Christmas hymns for them. Right now it is also really hard to find someone in casa. None of our investigators actually want to talk to us so what we are going to do is take the bus, sing a hymn, and fazer contatos (make contacts) with the people. It will be very interesting. 

The only thing I have heard of for skyping is if I took the last 5 to 10 minutes of my hour of skype to talk to Jenna so I don´t know. And I thought that y´all were only one hour behind us?

I love you all and I am so excited for Christmas and skyping!
Sister Martin 

Tacos!

Dear family,

Strangely enough one of the things I miss the most (besides yáll of course) is Mexican food. Well Segunda passado we had tacos! It was amazing! and nothing like real Mexican tacos at all. There is this recent convert that is absolutely amazing and his name is Roberto. He is the sweetest and most gentle man you will ever meet and after 4 months in the church he has one of the strongest testimonies I have ever seen; His wife loves us and always talks in church and answering questions and gives almoço (lunch) para us but ISn´t a member. (she is even taking the temple prep class with her husband). Anyway we had a family home evening at their house and we ate tacos! The taco itself was almost like a very stiff and not very tasty tortilla but the meat and stuff was good and it was the closest I've gotten to Mexican food in awhile so I was happy.

Yes it is getting hotter here. It would be almost unbearable if we didn´t have the constant breeze. I don´t think I have ever been so grateful for wind in my life but it is really a beautiful thing just like Pocahontas (how do you spell her name?) sang.

So transfers actually happen tomorrow. I found out last night that I will be transfered so I've started packing my bags and thinking about who will be my next companion and where I will go. Before my mission I hated changes. Now I LOVE them. I´m so excited to see what tomorrow will bring!

Jenna said y'all wanted more details. I will try. This week we had the opportunity to teach some really amazing people. People ready for the gospel. People actually wanting to do more than just hear our message and give us food. They actually want to change. We found Ana.  We taught the first lesson for her then returned two days later. We asked her if she did the reading we left for her. and she said yes! (that is pretty rare). We asked if she prayed. She said yes! We asked how she felt. She said good. We asked if that was her answer and she said YES (really this never happens) and then we asked if she was excited for baptism and she said yes! I was blown away. It was a very exciting moment and stunning. 

I´ve had a lot of good times with Sister Barratt and it will be a little sad to have someone new but I know that what ever happens, it is where  I need to be. 

Also, I will try to skype Christmas day but I will let you know when I get to my new area

Love you all very much,
Sister Martin

Oshi!

Dear wonderful family,
This transfer brought many changes. I am now in Antares which is more in the middle of the city of Maceió and is VERY different from Village 2 which was all mud and sand and shacks. Now it is all apartments and asphalt and busy streets and very few casas (the houses that are here are VERY big) The area is huge and until this week only had one dupla (companionship) here. The area was split but very few missionares have worked in the area that I am in so we are starting over from zero. It is pretty interesting but difficult as well because the same things I did in my other area won't work here. But everyone says this ward is awesome. This past weekend was stake conference ( a transmission from Utah but still in Portuguese) so I still don´´t know many people in my ward but I have help because I am now living in 6! I am living with Sister Moraes again! I like that because she is awesome. But it is a little hard because our apartment is meant for 4. There are only 4 places for clothes and 4 desks for studying. In a week or two we will be moving into a new apartment so for now we are just living out of our suitcases and making the best of it. The clothes part isn't too bad what I miss more is a good study space. That is more important.

 I am also training again. My companions name is Sister Chilson. She is from New York, turned 19 two months ago and graduated high school this past May. I thought I would train again as only two americans were coming and 6 brasileiras I thought I would be training a brasilian. SHOCK. Portuguese is a hard language and it is a bit rough for Sister Chilson right now but I remember how hard it was and try to help. But at the same time I don´t want to speak a lot of english (or any really) with her because that won´t help her learn Portuguese.
The big change is that I am a grandma! Yup minha menina (sister Barratt) is training as well! She is as nervous as can be about training but I know she will do really well and when I left Village 2 there was a lot of good things happening there.
Also funny story, we were in a van being taken to our new areas when the other new American Sister tapped my shoulder, said I looked familiar, and asked if I had a blog. I said I did and that my mom was doing for me while I was on the mission. She then went on to talk about something I had said in a letter from my first weeks in Maceio.
Do you think yall could skype wiith me 5:30 my timeon Christmas day? Is that good for everyone?
Christmas Traditions. Here people celebrate Christmas the 24th at midnight. They eat a huge feast and open presents(but presents are the main thing. A lot of people don´t even give them). Tomorrow is the mission´s Christmas Conference. The only time when the whole mission will be together. I am excited!
Love you all and I am excited about skyping you all!
Sister Martin

So Fast

Dear family,

Before I forget (like I did last week) I can skype this Christmas for one hour with you! So I need help. Could you create a skype account for me? And then for yourselves and then add yourselves to my account? It will probably be Monday the 23rd? Is that good for you?

We don´t have access to ipads or smartphones and only use computers the one hour we are allowed for email. Things are pretty hard to change here in the northeast of Brazil. Here is usually one of the last places to change. For example it is just now that the rule of no book bags is coming into effect. 

I can´t believe that it is already December! Time is moving so fast. This transfer has been one of the quickest. I find out Sunday what will be happening but I think I will be transfered and 6 more sisters are coming so maybe I will train again.

This past week was Thanksgiving! We celebrated by having a Family Home Evening with members. We talked about what we are grateful for and then we ate apple pie(definitely an american thing) and Turkey (it was actually chicken. Turkey is hard to come by and expensive and people only eat it here for Christmas) It was the sweetest thing. They wanted to give us our American holiday (they really just wanted to feel like the movies). But I am so grateful for them. They are a great family. 

This week was also a rush because we had Zone conference and spent all day in Farol and then we had a baptism! Things are pretty busy when you lose a day by being fora sua (off your) area end then baptism too because you are running to make sure every thing is perfect! João Vitor was baptized just before a wedding took place so the chapel was all decorated and so pretty. The chapel here is new and gorgeous on its own but then was decorated very nicely as well. 

I love you all very much!
Sister Martin

A Brief Description of a Normal Day

Everyday we wake up and have devotional first thing with a hymn, prayer and scripture. Then we exercise and get ready for the day. 8 o clock until 11;30 we have personal study, companion study, training, and language study. We leave for lunch with members. Then we work. We knock on doors, we talk to people on the street, have appointments. We can normally teach about 5 lessons every day. We return home at 9 and plan for our next day. Shower and write in journals and sleep! 

Que Vergonha (What a shame!)

Dear loving Family,

Who knew that Thanksgiving is this week and not last week? Not me until two days ago.  Oops. Well Happy thanksgiving in Maine again! This week a family invited nos americanas to have a family home evening with them this Thursday so that we can make them an apple pie. They are saying that is for us but really they just want apple pie. I´m excited. 

Last week we went to a churrascaria! Sister Rezendes asked months ago if I had gone to one but last pday was the first time and it was amazing. You sit and people bring all different kinds of meat to your table. I also ate sushi. It was surprizingly good. I took an artsy photo and felt like I was dad at some business dinner in some foreign country. 

This week we worked. And I liked it. The only part that really stunk is the fact that almost of our investigators right now need to marry. In Brazil everyone just lives together. It is pretty rare outside of the church to find people that are legally married. Right now we are teaching about 7 women and each one of them needs to get married (or separate from the husbands but I don´t like that option. It is sad and not very family oriented). Well here in Brazil it costs money and takes about month to get married. We are working in a pretty poor area so money is tight. Also usually the women want to marry and the man no. But we are working. It is amazing to see people that are learning about Christ and God and wanting to live a life that is in harmony with Their teachings despite all the obstacles that are in the way. Jane is one of these women. She wants to be baptized but her husband is legally married to another woman. In this case they both actually want to marry but the divorce papers from his first marriage returned without her signing them. Complicated. But this Sunday she was there with her son, her "husband", and three step children. Dedication.

The atonement also struck home again this week. We were walking down the street when a recent convert of the sisters before us literally ran into us. He was as drunk as could be. It was devastating to see. He had slept in the street that night because even drunk he knows how sad he will make his mom. And he was miserable. We talked with him and convinced him to return to his house. He just kept saying that the body was weak and that he was missing that "sun " that was in his life when he was being taught daily by the other Sisters. The next day when he was sober we returned and read the story of Alma and how he repented. I don´t know if Flavio understood it all but reading how Alma went around trying to destroy the Church and killing people spiritually speaking to finding immense joy and relief through Christ struck me. Really through Christ we can be clean again. He wants to forgive us. He wants us to repent. There is never a point were we stop being important and loved by Christ and our Heavenly Father. Even the drunk recent convert is a loved son of God. 

I love you all and hope you can feel of God´s love for each one of you! 
Love
Sister Martin