Dad and Fam,Thanks for you letter.
So, I've got about 20 minutes left and I have a lot of cool stories. First: Tracting.Overall it was a positive experience. I kind of felt like a crazy person preaching on the streets for a while--like the Main Street Preacher in Logan that everybody laughs about--and it was kind of a blow. And it wasn't until we were done trackthing that I really took a step back and realized that what other people think about me and it only matters what the Lord thinks of me. And I really do have a testimony and really do believe that my message can bless peoples lives. Which I say at the beginning of my street contact (eu tenho uma messagem maravilhosa sobre jesus cristo, o qual abençoará sua vida e sua família...) So besides that important reminder about what is important, people were really receptive and really nice. So we were given a bunch of passalong cards and a book of mormon each and told to go to town. We were supposed to give the book of mormon to someon we thought would actually read it.Here are just a few of the people I talked to:
1. Americo-phile Dude: There was this one guy who really wanted to talke to us because we were american and he loves america and wanted to practice the little english he knew. This was not a productive contact. He just kept talking about how welcome we were and about how we're a good example to Brazil and if any one tells us we're not welcome, we shouldn't listen, because American's are awesome and hard workers and disciplined and everything good and Brazilians are lazy and need this message. I tried to control the contact by telling him that the reason we have this direction and work hard is because we have the gospel... but he didn't really care. He said he'd call the number, though!
2. Últimos Dias Dude: Sister Martin talked to some guy smoking like a chimney and drinking coffee at this little table. She gave her little memorize message, and then he asked "why the last days?" in english... so sister martin got into a deep doctrinal discussion about how we're preparing to welcome christ in the second coming. And he asked if we really thought christ would come. and she said absolutely. and he said he believed something would come... maybe not christ... that would bring love and stuff... so sister martin just bore testimony about christ and we left him with a card to call. sister martin is awesome.
3. Lady with Young-ish Son: I gave my BoM to a lady who was walking her son to school. When I approached her, she just stopped and looked totally like she wanted to hear what I had to say. So I gave her a little longer of a message and then told her about the Church and the Restoration. After that, (I was with my teacher Irmã Valéria at the time) Irmã Valeria explained about the number she could call to have missionaries come... and that the book was free. And she actually seemed interested.
4. We gave another of our book of mormons to this one lady. I really liked the conversation that we had with her most, because she spoke really clearly and we actually had a conversation in Portuguese and I rocked it. She said she was Catholic, but was interested in learning about what other people believe in. And that she was interested in reading the book of mormon as literature, but not as scripture. And so we said she could have it if she would read it. And we talked a bit about some of our doctrines. She asked if we were "fundamentalist" and I didn't know what that meant, so she told me it meant we only believe our church is true. So I explained why we believe that... and a bit about living prophets... and then she asked about the trinity and I tried to say that we believe in the three but we believe they're separate people... that portuguese got a little more sketchy. and then she talked about how she believes we are all children of god and have the holy ghost in us. and I said yes, we believe that too. and she said at least we have that in common. So then, I just bore my testimony that if she read it and prayed about it that god would tell her it was true by the holy ghost... but I doubt she will pray... but I think she might read it at least a bit. And that's a start, neh?
5. Then there was some guy who may or may not have said that he had the Melchezidek priesthood but was inactive. I was really unclear on what he was talking aobut... but that's what I thought he said... so I tried to tell him to go back to chuch, it will bless you life... it was pretty sketchy on the portuguese. And then there were a lot of other people... about half wouldn't listen, and about a quarter listened really impatiently... but about a quarter listened patiently and looked at least marginaly interested at least to see the crazy americans talking crazy talk on the street. But it was totally worth it. It's just interesting to approach people like that, when I can't really understand what they're saying, and you can only say a few things, so you just have to be really blunt and abrupt about your testimony. And just testify that you know it's true and it can bless their lives. It's hard, but I felt really good about it. At least I have more portuguese than some of the other missionaries... and I'll have even more portuguese next time and I'll keep reminding myself that it doesn't matter what I look like to these people, it only matters what I look like to God. This will be my mantra next time. So I don't feel so crazy.
Second: Whooshes- Dad reminded me that I should share my whooshes. I don't think I talked about the Sunday before last when we watched the Testaments... did I? If I did, I'm sorry for the repetition. But I hadn't seen the testaments since it first came out, so I barely remembered any of it. And the Spirit was incredibly strong. I loved the juxtaposition of Christ's ministry and the Nephites. I bawled for the second half of the movie. And we had fast and testimony meeting last Sunday. My branch is really small for some reason. Usually you have at least 4 districts in a branch, which is about 40 people. Which still makes for an awfully small sacrament meeting, but we only had two districts in our branch last sunday. So there were 19 missionaries. The other district has been here longer and almost all of them bore their testimonies. And they were all so incredibly powerfully. They each shared a scripture and talked about their trials here and their successes... and the whole time the spirit was amazing. I hope our district can be like that in a couple more weeks. They were a great example to me.Third, Me Not Moving Districts:I haven't heard anything more about me moving districts. I think that they probably can't use me in the field any earlier than I'm scheduled to be there... but I guess I'm not 100% sure yet. But I am really enjoying the time to prepare. I will take as much of it as I can get. I really want to know the scriptures so much better. So that I can know where all the scriptures are that I want to share with investigators to resolve concerns and stuff. But I guess that's just a process that will continue throughout my mission...Fourth, Conversion Stories:Being here has made me realize that I know none of our ancestors conversion stories except hyrum smith. Could you guys maybe hunt some up for me? I'd love to know how people came to know of the church and if they moved to Utah or whatnot... Fifth, Me Not Being Able to Speak Spanish:I have lost my Spanish. This freaks me out a bit. I seriously cannot speak it. I try, and I have to think of every single word before I say it... It's easier to speak Portuguese, and I can't really speak portuguese very well at all. I hear tell that this is normal and that after I finish learning Portuguese it's easy to get the Spanish back. But it's freaky.I'm 10 minutes over time. Out of control.I love you all,
Love always,Sister Whitney