Sister Lauren Ashford, from the Northridge Ward, is serving in the Brazil Piraciaba Mission. She has been serving for 15 weeks and absolutely loves the people, the culture, and sharing the gospel. As her Portugese improves, her English gets worse.
Last week there were some storms and some flooding, so we were concerned, but she let us know on her P-day (Monday) that everything was fine and provided a little update on the crazy weather. She also shared her thoughts on the Sabbath day and the importance of remembering the sanctity of the sacrament meeting.
Here are some excerpts from her most recent letters:
Sao Paulo Temple
Sister Ashford (right) and her first companion, Sister Freeland (left)
Oi família e amigos (Hi family & friends),
Isso semana (this week) we had so much rain. It was crazy. Almost every day it was raining and we would get soaked. Earlier this week there was also a lot of wind with the rain. The trees were bending. Luckily minha companheira e eu (my companion and I) were able to hide out in a Subway. Later we found out that a tree broke the bank. Literally!! J There was so much wind that this huge tree fell, and broke the side of the bank on the other side of the street, It is nuts. E we recently walked by this one area that had tons of trees and a little creek at the end of the hill, you could barely see the creek because of the trees. Mas, when we walked by all the trees were gone. We think they all fell because of the wind, por que there was a huge tree that you could see the roots of because it had been ripped out of the ground. It is nuts.
I have realized the importance of reverence during the entire sacrament meeting. Our sacrament meetings are an hour long and include the sacrament, eating bread and water which represent the sacrifice of Cristo, e some talks from different members of the ward. There are also some Himnos in between. We had a familía come to church on the last domingo de Feverario (last Sunday in February) e this week we visited them. We asked them if they had any questions because in the other alas de igreja we had discussed topics that were new to them. They only had one question and it was about if cell phones are permitted during the sacrament meeting. They had observed members using their cell phones e being distracted during the sacrament meeting and they were concerned. We teach our pesquisadores (investigators) that this hour of igreja (church) is this most important part. At times we even tell them that if they cannot make it to all, at least come to this hour. This familía recognized how important it was and was telling us that they did not want to go to a church where the membros do not respect this hour. It was so sad and a shock for me e minha companheira (and my companion). At times, we as members get so used to going to igreja (church), that we forget the importance of these things. We all have to be reminded at times that there are people watching us and our actions can affect their choices.
On a funny note, minha companheira (my companion) picked up a frog. She loves them e here they are huge. We were visiting the família e they are terrified of frogs. One was right outside their door. So, off Sister Freeland went to the rescue. It was supper funny e she is still deemed the most courageous of all.
Até mais. (See You)
Sister Lauren Ashford
Brazil Piracicaba Mission
Av. Dr. Paulo de Morais, 555
2° Andar, Sala 25
Paulista, 13400-853 Piracicaba – SP, BRAZIL
Here is a recent blog post from Elder Palmer:
Bonjou Sak ap fèt?
Ok, so I’m un New York, and I’m finally with real people. (My keyboard keeps trying to spell everything in french, so pardon m’y english.) M’y mission président is awesome! M’y Area is pretty cool too. I’m in Queens. The public transit here is amazing. I was totally surprised by how friendly the people here are. I was expecting everyone to just ignore me, but then to m’y complète surprise out of the blue half the people I talk to actually listen, and then a couple people actually completed me. I wonder if it will actually last.
Honestly I’m starting to view missionary work as a little mundane, I haven’t really been surprised by anything that’s happened, and all my needs are provided for. Unfortunately right now it just feels like I’m just going through the routine, and that’s not what I want. When In came into my area, we didn’t have any scheduled appointments, or investigators. We hit the streets, and dug through the people that were being taught three, or four weeks ago, and now we have found three people that are interested. I feel happy when I think about them, but honestly I feel a little useless since we’ve found so many people that are interested, but we keep sending them to other missionaries since they speak english.
New York is super cool though, there are actually people on the streets, and when you take public transit there are people too!
Something I experienced at the MTC was the sheer magnitude of miracles that can happen when you are exactly obedient, when you obey with exactness, and serve with all your being you are blessed in so many ways, and The Lord just pours out his blessings upon you. While I was at the MTC I had a tender mercy just about every other hour. Something else that I’ve observed is sometimes the experiences(/trials) that you have are because the Lord knows that you can handle that, even when others around you can’t. As I learned to see this, I could hardly stop laughing on the inside. I saw hundreds of things that happened to me, that were hilarious simply because they always happened to me and no one else, in a way Im seeing that in what is happening now. An example of a thing past though was my arm. Other than being in a little bit of pain, when I broke my arm, it didn’t really bother me at all, and now that it’s better, I can laugh about it.
I think one of the reasons why God wants us to be exactly obedient as missionaries is that we are representing Him, and he wants us to represent Him the way He really is, by keeping a set of His standards.
My biggest tender mercy this week was when someone came up to us at a bus stop, and just started talking. She was so receptive to our message, I just felt so priveleged to be there talking to her. We taught her while waiting for the bus, that’s one of the reasons I love NY! I was sad though when we had to hand her off to someone else since I am a creole missionary.
Also a funny thing, people’s English here is a little different, I can hardly understand it with my crisp mountain accent. The one time I felt the most comfortable with my ability to understand people this week was during a lesson in creole where we were teaching three different people. I actually felt like I understood their creole better than the english of the people I talk to on the street. The gift of tongues is real!
I am alive, and well, but still adjusting, and figuring things out, prayers are always welcome.
I send my love, till next time,
Note: Elder Palmer’s senior companion is from Haiti, and his best language is Spanish.–(Madelyn Palmer)
Newly arrived missionaries to NYC-South, with President and Sister Reynolds.
Elder Benjamin Palmer with President and Sister Reynolds
Congratulations to all the young women who recently participated in the annual stake basketball tournament! A wonderful time was had by all!