week 47 . taste of brasil

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This week has been a party week here in Brasil. Right now is the time of the Festa de São João. I don't know what it's celebrating, and it seems like nobody else knows either, but everyone is celebrating. There was one night when there were bonfires in front of every house in the street. Yes, in the street. And lots and lots of fireworks. We're feeling like we're in a war zone here haha. But it's so amazing to see and enjoy another culture. I think I'm bringing this party home with me. We had a churrasco (barbecue) with the ward the other day and there was meat and a bonfire and it was such a fun experience. I LOVE BRASIL.

Sister Morais, Sister Jesus, Sister Rios, Megan

Sister Jesus
Megan and Sister Rios

This week I spent two days in the Vila do Príncipe Ward with Sister Jesus. It was a great exchange and I learned a lot with her. She's getting ready to go home pretty soon here and is a wonderful and spiritual missionary (as her name suggests). One of her investigators is a riot and literally would not let us a get a word in. He shhh'd me a few times haha. We laughed a lot and the change of scenery was nice. 

Francisco was confirmed on Sunday and is an absolute sweetheart. In his prayers he always thanks God for his baptism, confirmation, and asks that his entire family can be baptized. His mom also said that since he was baptized he doesn't do the same dumb stuff that he did before haha. We're glad she's happy and sees the difference in him! 

We have an investigator named Tiago who wanted to go to church on Sunday so we had planned to meet up with him at 8:30, but we ended up showing up late because we were picking up other investigators in another neighborhood like a million miles away. When we got there he had already left! We got so worried that he had gotten lost or wandered into some other church. But when we got to church he was there! One of the young men in the ward said that Tiago went up to him in the street and asked him "where the church of Christ is" and the young man got so pumped and basically ran to church with him. But he loved church and he's planning on being baptized next week!

#minhavida :: We were at an investigators house and her mom offered to give us dinner. Obviously we accepted. She offered something called coalhada and said it involved milk and sugar. I thought...milk, sugar, sounds good to me. So I accepted. Sister Morais was staring at me with this face like why did you do that? And the woman comes over with a pot of what is basically spoiled milk hahaha and then gave us sugar to mix in with it. And we ate it. And it was not good believe it or not. haha. Then she gave us tapioca which is fantastic. She also gave us something called canjica that's fantastic. 

[mom note: Videos on how to make coalhada, tapioca and canjica. Posted mainly for me so I can try out the recipes. I can't understand the Portuguese but I can get the general idea. I'm pretty sure we wont be trying the coalhada though.]

Alright I've got to go, but I love you guys so much. Have a great week. 


Sister M. Baker


week 46 . love & forgiveness

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This week we had a MIRACLE in the Seridó Ward. A baptism!!!!!!!!!! I can hardly believe it. We have worked so incredibly hard to be able to have success in this area and it came around! Francisco was baptized!!!! And it was wonderful. He was a little bit nervous because he doesn't know how to swim haha, but we explained that he would be just fine and when he came out of the water he was beaming.

Afterwards we walked back with Francisco from the stake center (longggg walk to his house) [mom note: church building] and he wasn't loving it. In his defense, it's far away, it was hot hot hot, and he was feeling a little sick and a lot hungry. #minhavida But he was throwing a bit of a tantrum (got me pumped to be a mom haha). Elder Monteza looks at him and says, "Francisco you washed all of your sins away about ten minutes ago and now you're going to get all dirty again?" hahaha And then Elder Monteza picked him up and carried him in his arms, newlywed style, for about half of the walk. He's going to heaven for that I'm sure of it haha.

We were at the Stake Center because it was Stake Conference this weekend and it was wonderful. [mom note: a meeting where multiple wards (see link above) meet together] Elder Aidukaitis of the Quorum of the Seventy was there (we're rolling in 70 members here in Caicó haha) and he is amazing. He's this super tall gangly man and hilarious, but also so full of the spirit. He was cracking jokes the whole time about Nephi and leaders of the Stake and waving his crazy long arms around and laughing. Impossible not to just love him. But he also gave a wonderful and very clear talk. I felt especially touched by what he said about love and forgiveness. That Christ gave us a commandment to love and forgive everyone all the time. There's no excuses, no way to live this commandment halfway. Because if we don't forgive others, God will not forgive us our trespasses. And I have plenty to be forgiven.

There were other wonderful talks about the sacrament and the Sabbath, tithing and fast offerings, and the light and redemption that comes through the Atonement of Christ. There was a choir that sang beautifully and brought the spirit with such power. I was crying from the first hymn of the conference onward haha. But it was truly such an edifying and instructive and beautiful meeting.

The only bummer about Sunday was that Joaquim didn't go to church, and therefore wasn't baptized. We haven't been able to catch him at home since Sunday morning (he was apparently at his brother's house?) but we're hoping to get a hold of him and help him prepare to be baptized this last week of the transfer.

We found an amazing family this week. Well to be honest, they found us. A man named Jean (jay-ahn) Carlos stopped us in the street and asked what church we represent. We explained to him a little bit about the church and marked a return visit. He told us that he lives in the neighborhood Frei Damião. [mom note: the neighborhood is named after this man] This neighborhood is far far far away haha. During my three transfers here I had never been there and to be honest didn't even know where it was. But this week we made the trek out there and found this little neighborhood tucked between some rocks in basically the middle of nowhere. And there's a giant paper-maché type statue on a rock of a friar (frei) so that you know you made it haha.

[mom note: When Google-ing this statue it became apparent that there are many statues of this monk throughout the Northeast of Brazil but I think this is the one Megan talks about.]
We found Jean and also met his parents, Francisco and Marli, and started teaching them. Francisco is a super outgoing religious man who doesn't drink, smoke, or drink coffee! ? Yes! They are wonderful and Jean and Francisco have accepted baptism. And they even have transportation to get to church! woo hoo! The main problem is conflicts that they have with work on Sundays, but it's nothing we can't work with and I'm honestly so excited to help this family!

We went out to teach with a young woman from the ward, Sara, and she took us to her house to get to know her mom and brother who are less-active. Her brother wasn't home, but her mom was and we had a good long talk with her. Her mom is amazing! She is super sweet and easy to talk to and knows what she needs to do. Her main reasons for not going to church are personal and family problems that are understandable, but she has found a way to resolve the problem and was back at church for Stake Conference on Sunday! She served a mission in São Paulo Interlagos and she showed us a super well-done mission album/yearbook that her mission made. I think there was a Gentry relative who served in her mission (lives in Port Angeles and I know the Gentry's have family out there). And there was a hilarious part of the album with the words "eternal companions" and missionaries from the mission who after going home got married hahaha. I was dying. It was great to hear about her mission and the contact she has with companions and friends and investigators. (One of her companions was the daughter of the guy who wrote The Color Code. Geeked out a little bit haha). [mom note: one night on a road trip Megan and I stopped at a hotel to sleep but instead stayed up most of the night taking The Color Code personality test and laughing hysterically at our results] But it made me so excited to be here right now and made me want to take advantage of every moment, and also made me excited to see what happens with everyone from the mission 20 years from now.

I'm so grateful to be here on a mission. It is a wonderful experience full of fun moments, spiritual moments, and endless opportunities to grow. I know that this church is true and that the leaders within it are called of God.

I love you all so much.
Sister Baker


week 45 . emergency transfer . on the bright side i'm sleeping like a queen

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There was an emergency transfer this week. [mom note: a regular transfer is when a missionary moves to a new area or gets a new companion and it happens every 6 weeks. An emergency transfer is a transfer that happens on a day/week that is not the regular transfer day/week because of an "emergency". An emergency can be anything...a new missionary coming to the mission, a missionary leaving the mission for varied reasons like health issues, an area needing to close, etc.]  On Monday night the Elders had Sister Morais, Sister Porter, Sister Antunes, and I all meet up with them in front of our house. And they told us that Sister Porter and Sister Antunes were transferred to other areas. And the area would close. So now it's just Sister Morais and I in the house. It's weirdly quiet and feels too big for us. The first night we were both way sad without the sisters and ate a lot of comfort food. We're starting to get more used to it, but it's still weird. Sister Porter and Sister Antunes are wonderful missionaries and I will miss them so much. (also I'm feeling guilty because all three times I've lived with Sister Porter she was transferred in an emergency transfer haha). The only plus side is that now I have a mattress. The last 2 1/2 transfers I've been sleeping on the mattress box and it was starting to take it's toll on me haha. But I grabbed one of the sister's mattresses and now I'm sleeping like a queen. 

This week we were working hard the entire week to follow-up with everyone and to make sure that we would have people at church. We had so many people who were definitely going to go. It was going to be a perfect Sunday and next Sunday we would've had a bunch of baptisms! 

But . . . as always in missionary work. Things don't usually turn out how we think that they will. Nobody who we had planned for went to church. Not one. And it was rough going. People didn't want to go because they wanted to sleep, because their moms wouldn't let them go to church (messed up parenting right there), because they went to the "citio" (like a ranch. . don't even mention the word citio to missionaries in Caicó it's basically a curse word because it's the main reason that baptisms fall through), and a million other excuses. We got to church and I was really down. Everything was going perfectly and then out of nowhere it all went downhill. But during sacrament meeting I felt an inexplicable comfort. I don't know how everything will work out just yet, but I know there is a purpose and that we will be able to find people to help and to baptize. 

This week was basically the week of unexpected turns of events . . . to name a few :

+ emergency transfer :: see above

+ Francisco pequeno :: Our little primary age Francisco was going to church every week and preparing for baptism. But out of nowhere we found out that him and his mom will be moving to Sousa. (It's in a different state and area in our mission). His mom is really happy because she'll be closer to her family, which is great. But we're bummed that he'll be leaving. We're just not sure when so it's possible that he could still be baptized here. We'll have to see because he didn't go to church this week. Why, you ask? Because at 7 a.m. he got nervous that we hadn't gone to pick him up for 9 o'clock church and said that we weren't ever going to pick him up and left. Kids, kids, kids. 

+ Francisco velho :: A man who stopped us last week and accepted baptism (and thinks I'm from England) changed completely. He gave us free ice-cream and calls me Julia (don't know why he thinks that's my name) #minhavida hahahaha But then out of nowhere he decided that some other church is the only true church. And he said that if the other church isn't true he wants to turn into a giant snake. Creative right? And we asked him what he would say if Jesus Christ told him that another church was true. He wouldn't believe it. If people don't believe in what Christ says, how are they going to believe us? We thanked him for the ice cream and peaced out. 

But in spite of all these not-so-great things happening, I can honestly say that I'm happy. I know that I'm supposed to be here. I know we have people that we're teaching who need our help and who will change! And I love my companion, and the members, and the area, and all the missionaries here. We can't control the free agency of others, but we can control how hard we work and our attitude. We're working hard and we're working with smiles on our faces. 

And it's not too hard to work with smiles because my life is still a joke. 
+ My name is now Julia. ^^^^

+ Yesterday my legs were killing me (lots of walking on Sundays) so we sat to rest and I put my head on Sister Morais' shoulder and fell asleep. I think it took about 30 seconds for me to sleep haha. And then a woman appears out of nowhere and said hi and scared the living daylights out of me. I jumped up and then she said that her neighbor had sent her to talk to us to see if we wanted to rest there haha. (her neighbor is actually a woman that we know haha). No more sitting on benches allowed for me because if I sit down it looks like I don't get up.

+ We tried doing a contact and the man would not even look at us. We invited him to church, he shook his head. Offered him a pamphlet, shook his head. Said good afternoon, ignored us. Didn't know that the mission had been that bad for my looks, guess I'll start doing something different with my hair and using makeup haha. 

+ One girl who was going to go to church with us was sleeping in a hammock right by her front door, with the door open. We were clapping (it's how you knock here) and yelling her name and she just kept on sleeping. So Sister Morais looks at me, shrugs her shoulders and grabs the girl's hammock and starts pulling and shaking it to wake her up hahaha. My companion might be the most persistent missionary on the mission. 

Well, looking back on this email I realize that it looks slightly depressing, but against all odds it was a great week. We ate lots of cake and laughed a lot and I'm loving my mission with all my heart. The church is true people. 

Have a wonderful week!
Amo vocês!

Sister M. Baker


week 44 . sometimes the best way to teach is through our example & service

Links in red (click for more info)

[mom note: we got lots of pictures this week...some are included in this post and there are more of her birthday and other activities posted with last weeks letter that can be found HERE]

This week was pretty "normal" as far as missionary work goes. Nobody got sick, no general authorities here interviewing people, etc. But it was a little bit cooler here which is way out of the norm for Caicó! 

We did a service project this Saturday at Maria (our recent-convert's) house. She is renting out the front part because the family that lived there moved but they left it pretty trashed. So Sister Morais, a member, the Elders, and I repainted the whole house to help out. I am learning a lot of new talents with all these service projects we're doing. You can put me to work in construction when I get back. We were stopping up holes in the walls and painting with something called "cal." It's not paint, it's like powder and water mixed together and you paint it with a giant brush.

Elder W Silva and Elder Montenza
Elder Carpenter and Elder Montenza

When we were working I remembered Pete's Dragon when he's whitewashing the lighthouse (I don't know why haha). 

But it was hilarious because practically the whole street was sitting outside of their houses watching us paint. They just were missing popcorn haha. But some good things came out of it . . .

That night (Saturday) we met a man named Joaquim. We were talking to Maria in front of her house and Joaquim came over and said that he had seen us painting and thought it was really cool that we did that. He said that there were other neighbors that were talking about us and saying that even if they had a step stool or a paint brush that they wouldn't give it to us to help (what?) and he was so mad about this haha. He has a few problems in his life and said he wants to leave that behind and change his life. We invited him to church and to be baptized on the 21st and he accepted whole-heartedly. A true miracle. And proof that sometimes our best way to teach is through our example and service to others. 

This week we saw a lot of miracles. Other than Joaquim, two other people called us over and asked to be taught. Not something that happens every day. One of them is a girl named Thaisse who has some questions about the gospel. She was already taught by missionaries in the past but got nervous about baptism and gave up at the last minute. But the spirit is touching her heart now! So excited to help her and that God put her in our path. 

Another man named Francisco called us over to talk to him. He loves the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ, but he's looking for a path to follow. He is a little bit distracted but a really good person who wants to find the truth! 

And speaking of Fransico ... #minhavida // We were teaching Fransisco and he for whatever reason thinks that I'm from England. I think that I said that I'm from the US a million times but he can't accept it. (not that I'm complaining). But the best is that I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm royalty. He will say stuff like "I know you might be a lady (or princess) from England, but we all have to have charity like it says in 1 Corinthians 13." hahaha. Love him just for that. 

It was Fast Sunday this week and we saw our prayers answered! We had 3 investigators at church!!!! [mom note: those that are taking lessons from the missionaries to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] I'm so grateful for Heavenly Father recognizing our work in this area and blessing us so much. 

Also shout out to my companion this week. Sister Morais is a huge blessing to me. Yes, she is the girl in the rocking chair and she's gorgeous. She says she's a fan of you for calling her pretty haha.

She is someone that I know I needed to learn from and I'm so grateful God put us together again this transfer. I know it was inspired that we stayed together two transfers. We've become good friends and we've both grown and changed a lot together. I love her with all my heart and can truly say that she is one of the best companions that I've had. 

Tell Annie hi and I love her! [mom note: Megan's friend that just returned home from her mission in Salt Lake City]

Harry Potter party!!! And Wizarding World!!!! You know I'm on board 200 percent. [mom note: her response when hearing I was coming out of my self imposed party planning retirement to plan a Harry Potter shindig to celebrate the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in California]

And about the interview with Elder Mazzagardi, it was a wonderful experience. He asked a lot of inspired questions about my mission, my testimony, my companionship, etc. and told me some things that I was needing to hear about my divine worth. I felt the love of Heavenly Father so strongly and walked out of that room feeling like I'd walked out of the celestial room of the temple

I love all of you!

Sister Baker

Caico Zone Meeting

[mom note: These next few pictures have no description but I'm guessing they are the view from her apartment and other shots from the area she is serving in]

And finally just a hodge podge of the remaining pictures we received...