Monday, November 10, 2014

Brownies Don't Exist Here

Hello family!

If I had to sum up this week in 1.5 words, it would be patience-trying.  But, it was also great.

Coming home from our district meeting, we finally convinced our little equadorian sister to get up at the front of the bus and talk/ yell about the Book of Mormon- rite of passage in the Brasil Belém mission.  She about wet her skirt and her trainer smoothly got up afterwards to share her testimony and basically repeat everything Sister Cañar had just said in clearer Portuguese, but she was great and we got a lot of great referrals.

One of the highlights of the week was Saturday.  Throught the Mormon Helping Hands program, the church put on a big service event offering free help with official documents, dentists, hair cutters, health screening, immunizations, and a bunch of other really awesome services.  At the last moment, the stake president asked me what the ZLs had planned for our ''booth''... I had no idea we were going to participate.  So, we whipped up a ton of brownies, all the church materials we could find, put on some mormon messages, and went out making contacts.  It was a hit.  The people LOVED the brownies (don´t exist here).  But, here´s where one of the patience trying parts comes in- all the little kids in the stake kept running back, begging for more brownies.  Smiling, I lovingly said no, only one per person- there were only so many brownies.  Some of them, however, didn´t get the hint and begged and sneeked and whined at me over and over again ALL DAY.  How many times do you need to say no before a child understands this word, and how many times can you say no and still hold a smile.  It made me really question my testimony of the necessity of eternal families.. just kidding, sort of.  But it was great!  I love getting out in the public and making contacts.  Makes me feel like a real missionary, haha.

Sunday night, we found the coolest family ever.  Their whole family is a part of this ''Marabaixo'' dance group that is one of the cultural aspects here in Amapá (I know this sentence doesn´t make sense.  I don´t remember how to speak English..)  They put on a show for us and told us a little bit about the slave history here.  It´s a dance of wooden drums and a few other simple instruments.  The women use these big skirts all the way to their ankles to emphasize their feet.  The dance steps are just little shuffling movements while waving the skirt around because usually, at night, the slaves were chained up, so they couldn´t move their feet around too much.  All chained together, the men would beat on the drums while the women shuffled around in a circle to the rhythm of the music and someone sings/ chants.  They call the chant a ''ladrão'' or robber, because they ''rob'' events that had taken place that day or stories they´d heard and turn them into music.  I LOVED it!!  The family got so excited that I got so excited that they are going to make a skirt for me and teach me how to dance.  Yes!  I love learning new cultures!  Also, they are going to the family history fair this week with us.

All in all, it was a good week.  We have a few potential baptisms for this week, so pray for our success!

Love you all!
Sister Barkdull

Monday, November 3, 2014

At Least My Mud is Clean

Ola família!

I am not feeling too well right now... I drank a whole liter of maracujá (I think it´s passion fruit in english) juice for lunch today... I figured since I only have four weeks left, I better make the most of all the yummy fruit here.  It´s not going too well for my anatomy...

Anyways, this week was really awesome and a little bit difficult in some aspects.  I´m still trying to get used to and understand my new companion.  We are very different- she likes to hold hands, sleep a lot, and has some ''issues'' that can´t be diagnosed so you kind of just have to go with the flow..  Also, we´re in a house with another companionship, so that makes starting studies, getting to bed, etc on time a little bit more difficult.  But, we went old school and made a chore chart and a bathroom schedule because I was not feeling good about not being obedient.  ''The children'' (trainee and junior comp) sometimes have a hard time with wanting to follow all the mission rules and focusing on working more than playing, but thankfully Sister Barreto, the other senior comp, while the life of the party, supports me in trying to be more organized and 100% obedient.  I feel a little bit like a stick in the mud, but, at least my mud is clean.

Saturday we had two baptisms!  The sisters baptized Leia and we baptized Nonato!  It´s the first time I´ve baptized um velinho/ senhor/ older man (84 years old).  Nonato´s so cute!  We found him sitting outside his house (everyone does this here in the north- easier for making contacts) and he started crying and talking to us about how his wife died 5 months ago.  We taught him the plan of salvation/ eternal families and brought him to church with us on Sunday.  After leaving to find some other investigators, we arrived in Gospel Principles to find Nonato sobbing.  He said that he felt something different at church and that he wanted to be baptized.  Well, we can make that happen.  It was a little bit (a lot) difficult to teach Nonato because he doesn´t know how to read and his memory´s going.  When our ZL did the baptismal interview, he laughed and told me that when he asked about the word of wisdom, Nonato said he didn´t no why he couldn´t drink coffee anymore, just that the blondie said not to, so he stopped.  Alma 32:21.  The day of his baptism, all of Nonato´s 7th day adventists relatives showed up to try to dissuade him from being baptized.  Yet again, my lack of faith showed, and I got really worried.  However, Nonato told his relatives that their church only begs money and that he wanted to be baptized in a church where he felt good- we´re getting there.  The baptismal service was.. unique.  As a special musical number, Sister Barreto played the recorder.. but the spirit was strong.

The next day was hard at first, but ended up being amazing!  We were fasting (no one ever taught me that fasting meant no water), and we had to leave the house early to go get all of our investigators.  We ran around in the hot sun for 3 hours trying to get people to come to church- and no one came.  We all arrived at church dripping in sweat and dying of thirst, mas vale a pena.

Being the dia dos mortos, or day of the dead, all the missionaries when to the town cemetary to make contacts.  I love being in a zone with Elder Gale.  He plays the violin so beautifully; Mom would die of happiness.  During Christmas last year, we did a ton of activities singing Christmas carols in malls and grocery stores to make contacts.  When we arrived at the cemetary, Elder Gale was playing and our other ZL singing, so the people that could hit a pitch joined in (rare for Brazilians) and the others went out making contacts.  It was great!  People cried, some tried to give us money (with our mission fund, that was very tempting), and we got a ton of visits!  On the bus ride to the cemetary, Sister Barreto got up at the front of the bus and, holding up a Book of Mormon, explained what it was to everyone in the bus and invited them to read it as I went around handing out cards with a telephone number to call and recieve the BoM for free.  I remembered during Christmas last year when I did this with Sister Santos; I was inspired.  So, on the bus ride home, I did the same thing.  Honestly, it´s a little bit better with americans because people pay more attention because of the accent and we´re the only white people here.  I may have forgotten my own name, yelling at the front of the bus to all those people, but I think I got the message across that they should call the number and read the Book of Mormon.  Sister Barreto and I will be doing this every week now when we go to zone meeting.

Today, we went to the equetorial line with some of the elders and took a lot of pictures, but I´m out of time, so I´ll have to talk about this next week.

I love you all!  Please be safe and read your scriptures  :)

Sister Barkdull

Monday, October 27, 2014

Font Full of Disgusting Water

Hello family!

Wow.  This week was extremely crazy.

We found out on Monday that I would be transferred to Macapá- one of the furthest areas from the mission home, so it was a huge rush to get everything in order for my last 6 weeks of the mission.  Tuesday we just worked really hard to build up our teaching pool for the new sister and finalize the wedding of Nete and Carlos and the baptism of Claudio and Lene and their family.  I´m not good at saying good bye.  I´ve never been that missionary that spends the last two days visiting all the members saying goodbye.  But, I really love all the people in Cidade Nova and I know I´d be hurt if someone I love didn´t say goodbye, so I spent ALL night Tuesday making brownies and cute notes for all of our investigators (coercing them into being baptized- jk) and all the members that have been so good to me.  Sister Torres got the short end of the stick because I ran out of brownies to give to her and ended up leaving her with a long list of To-dos for me.  She´s such a trooper.  Sister Torres has been the best companion I´ve ever had.  I miss her a lot more than I thought I would.

Anways, we got to the airport and waited for the other two sisters, Sister Barreto (arrived in Brazil with me) and Sister Cañar (arrived in the field 2 days previously) to show up.  When they did and our rides left, we saw that our flight had been cancelled.  After rushing to get to the airport at 4:30 in the morning, we ended up waiting there until 2 in the afternoon to catch the next flight.  I have a funny photo of Sister Barreto (Argentinian) sleeping on the airport bench with a bed sheet.  The last time I was in that airport was almost a year and a half ago when I arrived, and now I´ll return in 5 more weeks to go home... weird.

The flight was just an hour, we got there, and an irmão from the ward came to pick us up.  We lunched at his house and then it was time to get to work!

Friday night was a devotional with the stake and President and Sister Scisci and Elder Fernandes and his wife about being the most receptive and welcoming members in the world ( a little dramatic).  We did a skit about what member usually do when there´s an investigator at church and what should really happen.  Everyone liked it and hopefully it will help.

The day of, our ZL called me and asked if I could scramble up a musical number for our mission tour with Elder Fernandes, the area 70 here.  Sure....  I didn´t even have time to practice.  How nerve wracking.  But it went well.  Elder Gale, our other ZL, accompanied with the violin and there was a choir of missionaries.  In spite of my many mistakes, Sister Scisci was beaming with pride that our zone put together a conference so beautiful in such little time.  But this is after the 70 paid a surprise visit to the ZLs´house in Santarem and almost died from disease exposure.  The bar wasn´t set too high.

After the conference, we ran to our church to prepare for the baptism we were going to have that day, only to find the font full of disgusting water and the facet broken.  Also, the bishop and investigator showed up late to the interview, and everything else bad that can happen.  What else is new?  So, I and another YW rolled up our sleeves, grabbed some buckets and emptied and filled up that baptismal font by hand.  It took about 3.5 hours.  My arms are dead.  But, in the end, Ruan was baptized!  Worth it.

I love Macapá!! It´s a lot cleaner and has a lot more american things.  Also, I don´t know if Heavenly Father´s just really blessing me by putting prepared people in my path, or it just everyone´s prepared, but literally every person we talk to says, ´´yeah I want to go to your church!  how much do I have to pay for your book of mormons?´´  Our investigator that went to church on Sunday cried and told us he wants to be baptized.  I am super grateful for all the trial I´ve had on my mission, but it´s pretty cool to just challenge everyone to be baptized and see the fruits of it at the end of your mission.

I have high goals for for Macapá and these last few weeks!  I love working and being a missionary!  I know that the restored gospel is true!

Love you all!
Sister Barkdull

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me

Hello family!

Thank you for all the birthday emails and Aunt Kathy for the birthday card!  I forgot it was my birthday and ended up opening it a week early.  I spent the rest of the week subtly reminding everyone that my birthday was coming up.  Paid off.  A girl from the ZLs´ ward who likes to go teaching with us gave me a new watch (guess she doesn´t think my tape watch very fancy), Debora, a recent convert made me tapiocinho (it´s the brazilian version of of swedish pancakes), Nete and Carlos, our couple who will be married and baptized this week bought me açaí, and Claudio and Lene and their family did a huge maracujá party for me since it´s my favorite fruit here- maracujá mousse, maracujá cake, maracujá juice, maracujá pudding, tapioca cake, and this chicken pie thing.  Basically, for my birthday, I gained 10 pounds.  Happy birthday to me.  I guess that´s why so many people love me- there´s just so much to love.

We also just got our transfer calls.  I´m a little bit in shock.  I was really wanting to stay with Sister Torres here in Cidade Nova to see these baptisms through (I trust in Sis Torres...), but it looks like I´ll be going to Macapá, Guanabara II to serve with Sister L.Oliveira for the next/last six weeks.  All I know is that Macapá is one of the furthest areas in our mission and they´re closing Guanabara to elders and putting me and my companion in... this will be interesting.

Well, I´m really sad that I´m going to miss the family history fair, the mission tour, and my one and maybe only (just kidding, I´m going to find a ton of families in Macapá) family here in Cidade Nova.  I really love the members, my comp, and especially our investigators.

I don´t have a lot more to say.. all I can think about is this transfer..

Wish me luck!  I don´t know how much I´ll be in contact these next few weeks because I don´t want to think about home at all.  I love being a missionary!  I love testifying and helping others change for the better.  I love who I´m becoming (don´t expect someone perfect).

Share the gospel!  Christmas is coming!  It´s the best gift you can give to our Savior.

I love you all,
Sister Barkdull

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Love Companionship Inventory

Hello family!

Another busy week that passed by really fast.  I´m a little stressed out with the ten thousand things on my to-do list, so I´m not sure that this email will be worth reading..

Anyway, lesson learned on judging this week- don´t do it.  I always think I´ve improved so much on this point until I realize I haven´t.  This week I got to do a split with the Providência sisters.  I had done one the week before and heard one companion´s point of view, so I went in with this whole idea of what was going on and what needed to be fixed.  I was completely wrong.  We had a great day, and that sister is so great.  And it´s funny because from her perspective, everything that´s wrong is with her companion.  And that´s why I love companionship inventory.  Mom and Dad may either think I´m a hypocrit or fall on their knees thanking the heavens, but I have a huge testimony of communication now.  75% of the problems with sisters is just communication.  It´s a life skill.

Probably the most spiritual part of this week was our lesson with Claudio and his family- the family we´re preparing to be baptized at the family history fair.  After going to General Conference, they were all super excited to continue learning about the restored gospel, but at the same time, very reserved.  In their younger years, Claudio and Lene were active workers in the church ´´Universal´´, waking up at 3 am to respond to the pastor´s prayer call, making money cards until the early hours of the morning, and a whole bunch of other ridiculous things until finally, after seeing many bad examples and being stretched to the limit, they decided that, that wasn´t what they wanted for their family and left the church, feeling greatly deceived.  After having wasted so many years in a church that´s only out to get your money, Caudio and Lene really want to find the right and true church in which to raise their four daughters (sounds familiar), but have many inhibitions too.  From talking with Claudio and his family, it´s so amazing how Heavenly Father prepares people from the beginning to accept the gospel.  When we first contacted Claudio, he said that he´d been praying the night before to be more useful to God, not in a self serving way, but to just thank Heavenly Father more for the blessings he has.  Claudio and Lene told us this week that if we´d tried talking to them 10 years ago when they were workers in the Universal church, they would have laughed in our faces.  I had to cry a little when, at the end of our lesson on Wednesday, Claudio told us about the various experiences he´d had with members of the church.  One day, after a ´´workers´ meeting´´, some man tried stealing Claudio´s bike.  The robber rode away, waving at Claudio, thinking he was getting away, but Claudio went out running after him.  Finally, Claudio caught up, tackeled the robber to the ground and started beating him (this is something really common with criminals here.  Many times they don´t even make it to jail because they citizens kill them before they have a chance).  Claudio said that he was ready to kill the theif when some guy from the street stepped in, pulled him back, and yelling in his face told him to stop, that he didn´t want to do this.  The theif ran away, and after calming down, Claudio realized how awful it would have been if he´d killed the man, how he would have offended God.  He felt awful and thanked the man for helping him stop.  That man was a member of the church.  Claudio felt awful in that moment for almost killing a man, but when he was telling this story, I couldn´t imagine how awful he would be feeling if he really had killed him, and because of that, couldn´t be baptized.  It is really hard to be baptized after committing murder.  Heavenly Father knew that one day Claudio would accept the gospel and that if he´d commited that sin, it would be so much more difficult, so he sent one of his servants in to intervene.  Heavenly Father´s hand really is in our lives whether we see it in that moment or not.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to teach this family.  They are progressing so much in their knowledge and testimony, and I love seeing the changes in their family and their personal lives.

The gospel is so true.  I know Heavenly Father is aware of us always, we just need to look for Him and to Him.

Happy Birthday to the best mom in the world!
and Happy birthday to Kelsey too! (I don´t have favorite sisters)

Much love,
Sister Barkdull

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This Time We Ate Alligator


This week was so great!  Seriously, I am so happy.  I have never had a better relationship with my companion, I love the members, I have so many opportunities to serve, and I love each of our investigators so much.  That isn´t to say that everything is perfect or that everyone´s doing what I want them to (that definitely wouldn´t be perfect), but I don´t know, I feel like Heavenly Father´s blessing me with an enthusiasm or faith that isn´t mine.  I don´t know where it came from!  We leave the house in the morning, super excited to work, and we get home at night, dying, but so grateful for all the miracles we saw that day.  I don´t know why Heavenly Father´s blessing us so much... but we´re trying to deserve it.

Anyways, my comp and I were in high efficiency mode this week.  I have never worked so hard.  We have a ton of great people we´re teaching right now, and we wanted to make sure that all of them made it to conference.  We prayed, we fasted, we got the members in on it, and in the end, we reaped the delicious fruits of our labors- almost all of them came and to the exact session that had their answers!  We have a huge testimony that if you prepare yourself for conference, you will receive immediate and direct answers, and we made that promise to everyone we talked with this week.  At one point, when one of our investigators said he might travel this weekend, I literally got down on my knees and begged, ''I don´t accept that!  You have to go to conference!  Heavenly Father has things you need to hear!''  And he went!  to three sessions!  We didn´t get to listen to hardly anything that was said because we were running around grabbing children, calling investigators, talking with members, etc, but I know that prayers were answered.

I wish I had time to talk about all of the amazing people we are teaching, but I don´t, so I´ll just talk about our miracle family-

I think I mentioned this in another email, but we have our huge family history fair coming up on the 25th of October.  Bruna, the director of the family history center, is combining forces with the work for the living (missionary work) and making this an unforgettable experience not just for the stake, but all of Belém.  I am so excited!  We´re going to have a room in which we can talk about how missionary work relates to family history (see ensign from October) and what we believe about eternal families.  The family history assistants will go around getting references for us, but our principal responsability is to find a family to be baptized at the end of the fair.  That´s where Claudio and his family come in.  Two weeks ago, after p day, we were out making contacts at night when we stopped to talk to this man and woman who were listening to the radio.  I asked them where they bought it, talked about how my dad always listens to politics on the radio, which lead into a disscussion about a variety of world topics.  We ended up sharing a brief message about the restoration and about how all the things going on in the world are evidences that God´s work still continues.  They were fascinated.  Their questions were superb and intelligent.  They have friends that are members who are great examples.  They have never talked with missionaries before.  They asked if they could do a study of our religion with us.... WHAT?!?!?!  We marked a date to come back and walked home, half stunned, half screaming- família eleita!!!  And ever since, it´s just been amazing.  They already live and believe in everything.  The spirit is so strong in our lessons, and they understand and even expound upon everything we say.  They were leaders in another church here, but left because they saw hipocracy in it.  Claudio, Lene, Isabelle, Larissa, Ester, and Claudia all came to General Conference, loved it, came back the next day, and then asked when and where the regular services happen.  All of the members, after talking with them at conference, rallied around this family, giving them a tour of the church (including the baptismal font, ha) and begging to teach this family with us.  We have found our family!  Seriously, I don´t understand why we are being so blessed.. but I love them, and they remind me a lot of our family with all of it´s girls.

So much more to say, but no more time.

I love you all!  I hope you got a lot out of conference and are putting it in practice.  I don´t remember how to say this in english, so... apoiar seus líderes!!

Sister Barkdull

P.S.  We had lunch with that irmão who made us that meal of cow organs again.  This time we ate aligator.  Not much better..

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gets A Little Bossy With Me

Oi família!

So, a lot of things are going on right now!  This week, Sister Torres will have a few opportunities to lead in our area because we´re going to be doing a few splits with the other sisters in our area.  Everytime Sister Torres gets a little bossy with me, I tell her she´s letting her new authority get to her head.  But in reality, I´m grateful for having a companion that I trust 100% and who works hard and does what´s right.  I always feel more inspired by her personal study than my own..

Also, we´re putting our new ward mission plan into practice this week.  Our 40 day fast has already begun and the references have started to roll in.  Member missionary work is of vital importance here (actually, in all parts of the world).  There are so many churches here in Belém!!  And everyone goes to all of them!  It´s like the social thing to do here- go to church, but nobody actually follows or knows their church´s doctrine because ´´it´s all the same God´´.  If we talk about eternal families, ´´yep, I believe in that too´´ or about living prophets ´´yep, my church´s got that too´´.  No it doesn´t!  We´re pretty much limited to the Book of Mormon and the question of who has authority.  However, the members are like magic.  Being a foreigner, member all my life missionary, it´s so great when the member are with us because 95% of them are recent converts.  They know how to talk to these people and get them to understand that this isn´t just any church, but the TRUE church.  The work is literally dead here without the members.  Our ward mission plan is based on conversion, retension, and reactivation in all the organizations and we work soley based on names- who´s going after who, who needs what, etc.  Our bishop is really humble and kind but at the same time shows people that he´s here to work and expects that from everyone else too.  I´m learning a lot from him on leadership.

While the bishop´s working away with the ward mission plan, his wife, Bruna, is the director of the stake family history center.  She has an unbelievable testimony of family history and an even more unimaginable work ethic!  For months now, the FHC (family history center) has been putting together a youth team, putting n devotionals in every ward, getting into the media, talking with local universities and churches as well as the mission presidency here, all leading up to the 24th of october- the first family history fair to ever happen here in northern Brazil!!  SO much work is going into this fair, and it´s happening here in my stake, so we get to be a part of it!  I have never been so inspired to do family history work, nor indexing.  I´m ashamed to say that I have never indexed a single name in my life.  I didn´t even understand what it was or what it had to do with family history until about a month ago.  But repentence is for everyone, and now all I want to do is tell everyone, ´´there is hope for your ancestors!!´´  As missionaries, we´re being trained to lead people during the fair, but our biggest role is helping the ward reactivate and convert families to bring to the fair.  The FHC wants to have a baptism of a family at the end of the fair for all of Belém to see.  I want so much to be a part of it!  My comp and I are fasting, praying, making contacts like crazy, and all to find that family, or families, that will be baptized at the family history fair.  It´s been crazy to see how Heavenly Father is blessing us!  Usually, we´re lucky to contact one real family per week (most people here just live together because marriage is expensive).  However, this week we found six!  And a majority of them were those ´´just one last door´´ stories.  There´s so much more to say about this family history craziness that´s going on, but I´ll just say that we´re running with it.  Everytime I talk about family history, it´s like my testimony´s on fire.  I know this work is true!  Whether it´s on this side of the veil or the other!

I love you all, especially you Grandpa Del!  You have a lot more work here to do, please don´t give up!

Do some indexing, go ´´find [your] cousins´´ (see family history video on the church website).

Sister Barkdull