Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Transferred to Sao Luiz Maranhao!!

Sister Molina, Sister Merrill, me, Dara, and Sister Maeno

July 30, 2014

Oiiiii Familia!!!   [Dear Family]

I have literally 20 minutes to write and I’m super bummed because I have sooo much to write about!  I will have to write next week more about this week and this coming week. but first of all, mom was right, I’ve been transferred to SAO LUIZ MARANHAO!! I know... I cried quite a bit, but I knew it was coming. I could feel it for the past 2 weeks or so.  I took quite a few pics with everyone and still it was so little time.  I promised I will return soooooo I better start saving my money right now hahahha.  But seriously, I never thought it would be soooo hard to leave an area but this area was harder than the others.  For sure, I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for this area and for Sister Maeno and the members, OI LAURA<3.  and just everything. I hate crying but I admit it, I’m a crybaby on the mission. haha. But nossa, so much happened!  I will have to write in bullet points and you can ask questions about it later.  [nossa? ????]
-Birthday, awesome. 4 cakes, 1 of jello and marshmallows, one of mousse de maracuja and lemon, one of cheese, and one of chocolate haha!!  Also..... we ate TANAJURA! [ants]  Look it up.  It’s disgusting. GIANT ANTS HAHAHAH I DONT BELIEVE IT HAHAHA.  I’ll send pics
-Jan Ken Po.  The Japanese version of rock paper scissors, THEY USE THAT HERE HAHAHA SO COOL!
-This Sunday, there was a couple visiting who were from Holland and only spoke English so I interpreted for them.  It was tough, but I realized that I actuallly understand everything that’s going on now!  How cool!  I interpreted and I felt like how Mom always says, I think they missed half of what was said, but hopefully the most important parts got through.  I also made up parts to explain better because she was a nonmember and wouldn’t understand a lot of references so I was interpreting and teaching at the same time.  haha.  Super fun.
-I’m now with Sister Marques.  She is from Sao Paulo and looks uncannily similar to Sister Pedreira, who is living in the same house as me now and in the same ward, other area. hahahahah. Small world.  Man. I’m super excited!
-From what I see from Maranhao so far is that it’s suuuuper hot and the beach is close and it looks a lot like Hawaii and its very poor and a lot of Blacks.  So still, I stand out like a sore thumb haha.
-Sister Maeno.  Wow, I can’t believe its been a transfer already and I’m just sooooo sad that I only had one transfer with Sister Maeno.  I seriously am so bummed.  We had too much fun and everything was just too darn perfect this transfer.  I knew that it had to change. but I will never forget everything I learned from her. I was training yet I learned sooo much from her.  We cried like babies but I know I’ll see her again. She’s going to work miracles!!!!
-I leanred Japanese.  It’s going to be a surprise, Dad, but I’m working on my Japanese!!  It’s surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.  I can sing “I Am a Child of God”  and pray and a few other sentences.  Haha super fun.  You have to teach me more after the mission!!
Well, that’s all the time I have for today .... I will spend the rest of the time sending pics. haha. I love you sooo much and I pray for all of you every night.  I’m soooo grateful for Tiangua and all I learned.  I love it there soo much and will never forget it there.  But I know I have a new adventure ahead of me and I can’t wait.  There’s still so much to learn and so much to do!!!!

Sister Yoshimoto

p.s.  I printed the letters from you all.  I will respond ASAP!!<3   The computer isn’t letting me send the pics so I will send a whole bunch the next time I can send some pictures.

Dad: watashi wa anata ga suki desu! :)  [Japanese for “I like you.”]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trials and Miracles in Tiangua

July 23, 2014

Oi Minha Familia!    [Hi my family]
Wow!  I don’t even know where to start with this week.  I feel like
Sister Maeno and I are truly being tested and prepared for something verrryyyyy big soon.  This week was a tough one for all four of us in Tiangua.

I’ll start with dear Irismar and Francisco.  Wow!  The changes in them are incredible.  Indescribable! It was always a concern -- their true intent, we know they believe and have such a strong testimony of the church, but the intent and motivation to actually get up and get married so they can be baptized was always the problem.  But this week, wow.   

We have been really researching and asking everyone about the details of marriage here in Brasil.  It’s complicated .... especially because he’s from another city and she’s been married before.  We finally figured it all out.  All they need is birth certificate and proof of residence … and 300 reais [real, Brazilian money].  So man, it’s been a battle getting everything in order but finally we planned the day to go with them to the cartorio  [registry].  We arrive and find out that the certificate of him is not the original so he has to go get it from the birth city.  Also, the waiting time from signing and paying to officially married is 20 days.  :( so they won’t make their date for this Saturday but the miracle of it all was that Irismar, all 65 years of her, walked with us to the cartorio [registry] because she wants this so bad!  She has problems with her knees and health and everything so we tried to get a moto taxi but none was there and she just said, “Let’s walk.  This is God’s will. We’ll make it happen!”  It was super intense.  Also, apparently, Francisco was searching all night for the original but could only find the copy.  So he’s going to travel to his birth city tomorrow and return Friday so they can sign and marry!   Man, it’s seriously a battle, but its like all 4 of us versus the Adversary. But at least we know we’ll win.  

 I’m super nervous and sad about transfers.  We’ll find out Monday what’s happening but I have a feeling that I might be transferred....... and even though I probably won’t see them married and baptized, I can finally rest assured that they have the faith, testimony, and now the intent and action.  I don’t know exactly when or if I’ll see it happen, but i can trust that at least they will be baptized and sealed in the temple.  For me, that’s more than enough :)

This area is struggling and at times its soooo darn frustrating,
because we have sooooo many elite people who are so ready and so
wanting to be baptized but are only unable to because of family.  4 of our elites are just waiting and praying now.  Their families won’t allow them to go to church or are allowing to go to church but not baptized. It’s super frustrating for everyone, but we were studying and praying and talking with our leaders and for now it’s really just a matter of time and testimony, faith and the will and timing of the Lord.  I know they will one day have the chance to accept the gospel fully through baptism.  When that day comes it’ll be just that much sweeter because of the battle to get there.


Sister Maeno is teaching me Japanese!!! :D haha.  I can say “Hi, my name is Sister Yoshimoto,.. Are you Japanese? No, I’m American.” Thank you, Your welcome. yuck, and..... I can almost pray.  Haha but that’s about it. pretty cool huh? haha
But wow, Sister Maeno is really amazing.  She’s seriously pre-trained, so that’s nice for me haha.  She is so strong and really helping me a lot.  I am sooo grateful for a companion who is willing to work hard, love so much, and be obedient and faithful and have fun at the same time!  It’s such a blessing in this time.  We’re really able to talk and keep each other positive and just laugh when we need to haha.  She’s such a blessing.  Especially in this week when it was super tough.  She, too, had some experiences in the past with people close to her passing away at their own hands. 

And this week, someone very special to us in this ward who has suffered greatly from depression had a very verrryyy low point and ended up in the hospital.  We visited and prayed with him and he received a blessing from the elders who were in town for an
interview (another miracle).  But this week really strained us but I am so grateful for her and we were really able to keep each other strong and continuing on this week.  Pray for our ward.  Something weird is going on and the fiery darts of the Adversary are really hitting hard for some reason.  Assaults, robberies, accidents, motor accidents, deaths of family members, near death of others, injuries, every possible bad situation is hitting our investigators, members, just everyone. It’s super freaky but pray for their protection.  It doesn’t matter what happens.  We’ll keep going and the work WILL go on!  But we’ll keep praying.

On another note, I got to read the other emails!  Thank you for the
updates!  I love hearing about home and the fun you all had at Young Womens Camp!  haha.  Poor mom.  I totally understand and this is why it’s so dangerous to have a girls camp... haha … jk.  But I’m glad you survived!! I was cracking up at your letter.  I can just hear you saying this and I realized why I am the way I am in certain aspects.  haha.  Trials of charity.  It’s a tough one.  Also,  Sister Merril and I were talking about camp and decided we wanted to make smores, but they don’t have a lot of things here that they have in the US so we had to improvise... it was really weird. but really good. I’ll send a picture.  haha. Marshmallows here are rare.   They were strawberry flavored! haha.

To answer the question about fruits here.  I will describe our daily meals.  Breakfast:  mango, tangerine, toast or egg.  Lunch: rice, beans, meat, some pasta thing, salad, fresh juice--like from the fruit itself.  Super good.  Dinner:  after planning at 10pm. we don’t really eat dinner ... maybe toast or something a member gave us to bring home and a guava.  Seriously, fruit is soooooo good and so cheap here.  I love it.  guava, tangerine, mango, pineapple, papaya, apples, bananas, passion fruit, I’m so spoiled here, but i love it because its all soooo good and I think I’ll never be able to eat fruit in the US again :(

Thank you for the recipes. I’m going to try again.  We tried and it was like this flat pancake thing hahaha.  And also, we tried to make a cake and it turned out like a lump so we shaped it with our hands and covered it with condensed milk.  It was really good haha.  I think we have problems baking here, but it all tastes good soooooo tudo bem! :)     [it’s alright]

Anyway, I will send pictures today. but I just want to thank you all
for your prayers and love and support.  We’re hanging in there and
working hard!  I’m super excited for the next big adventure because
truly everyday is an adventure!  We NEVER know what’s going to happen.  It’s scary but always fun.  I still wake up sometimes and can’t believe I’m actually here in Brasil and actually a missionary.  Like, I’m one of those super cool sisters with the name tag and skirt who is talking to strangers on the street IN PORTUGUESE … what... and seeing the miracles of the Lord in every minute, there are so many amazing people out here just waiting to find the truth … waiting to fill that emptiness.  And I have this amazing opportunity and privilege to show them where to find it.  I loveeee the Book of Mormon.  I can’t believe the power it has.  I love this work.  I love my Heavenly Father and I love my Savior.  Every
day I learn something new something deeper about the  Atonenment.  I can never fully express my gratitude for Him – the Savior.  I know this is the true full complete gospel of Jesus Cristo.

Love you alllllll!!!! I pray for you all every night by name.
-Sister Yoshimoto!
Ate a proxima semana!   [Until next week}

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sushi de doce, Brasil Style
Chicken foot and a chick.  What's for dinner?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Subject: Semana do milagres--O Senhor nunca nos esquece
[Week of Miracles - The Lord never forgets us]

Oiiiii minha família querida!!!   [Hi my dear family]

I just have so much to say and not enough time or words to say it all! wow! 

This transfer has been one of the toughest for me, I’ve truly been feeling the weight of this area AND the other sisters' area on my shoulders, as well as training and not completely knowing the language or the area or how this country works, haha, but all of this has been truly stressful and a time of muuuuuch self-reflection, evaluation, humility, and growth.  I am sooo grateful, soooooo grateful for my leaders--district and zone and sister trainers, and of course for the Atonement which is truly what will pull me through, like Dad said – it’s not just for my sins and faults, but for my stresses and my fears and my frustrations. 

But this week, wow, it has truly been a miracle, a blessing, a tender mercy.  It’s hard to remember that all of our hard work and obedience and prayers and fasts and tears and sweat and pain in the mission will ultimately pay off, especially when we’re in the middle of the trial but 100%, I can testify that as the mission is getting closer to the end, I feel the pressure of so little time and so much work left to do on myself and in this area.  I can see now that as I’m getting closer to the end, I’m facing bigger, longer trials and truly being tested in my faith, patience and perseverance. 

But it always pays off.  This week, aka 2 days, has already been such a miracle!!!! Yesterday, we found an elite family!!  We were waiting for lunch hour to end and decided to sit in the shade and study a bit (we were in an area a really long way from our house and everyone else was still eating) so we sat and I saw a woman with a baby and we had made a goal to talk to families so we could find more families to teach and so we decided to go sit there instead.  We sat down and before we could say anything, a dog came up and was playing with us.  I asked if the dog was hers and she said “noo, it’s a street dog,” but she started talking about the story of the dog and then we started talking about her and her family and us and our mission and all of a sudden the entire family and some neighbors popped out of nowhere and all were there on the street talking with us and joking and asking questions and it was soooooooo cool!  We talked for a while about churches, missions, why we’re here without pay, etc. and we explained a little about “the Restoration” and eternal families and they all were very attentive and interested and it was amazing.  Wow!  I still can’t believe it.  They had to go to work and what not after but the entire family of 5 people said that we could come back this week to talk more about this restoration and the difference from their church.  Wow!  I just felt how strong they are and how united they are as a family and that this decision will seriously change their lives for the better!  I saw them as seriously badly needed future leaders of the church here. 

Right after this, we went to visit another family but no one was home except the aunt.  We talked with her a bit and she said she has wanted to visit the church because she knows one of our recent converts.  She wants to be baptized but doesn’t know where because she wants the truth and not some church that teaches the same things over and over.  She doesn’t want a church that is inconsistent.  We taught about “the Restoration” and gave her the Book of Mormon which she likes a lot.  We read Alma 7:15 and she was so attentive.  We challenged her to prepare for baptism and she accepted.  She’s coming to church this week with her family and is preparing for baptism on the 2nd of August.  Wow!  It was soooooo amazing to see such an elite daughter of God so prepared and so willing to follow Christ’s example and so receptive to the Spirit. 

But that’s not all!!!! Aline, the sister of Felipe, our recent convert, … Wow!  I can’t even describe how elite she is!  She is probably more prepared than Felipe, which is soo hard to imagine.  haha. But long story short, we prayed about a date by which she’d be prepared to be baptized and when we met with her, we talked about the Book of Mormon and her testimony.  She bore testimony super strong and the spirit was sooooo strong.  We read a scripture about baptism and told her about the date about which we prayed and felt strongly that she could be ready for the 2nd of August, she started crying and said that she had received the same answer----what!!!  She had prayed about the Book of Mormon, felt it was true, and has been coming to church and knows that it’s different.  We never asked her to pray about baptism but she prayed if this was right for her and felt two days ago very strongly that she needed to be baptized on this day.  Wow. I have a strong testimony that this work is SOO not about us.  We missionaries do probably very little in the big scheme.  But literally, our job is just to be worthy and working.  The rest just falls into place because the Spirit is truly the one who teaches and confirms. We did nothing but pray for a date, and relay this answer to her.  She and the Spirit did the rest.  Because she was willing to pray and search for answers and guidance from God, she received this amazing confirmation. and the blessings that will come after are so soooo worth it.  Wow!  I can’t believe it! 

Update on Thais and her parents:  Miracles!  They are opening up more and are more friendly to us, but it will definitely take some time and prayers and work on Thais' part now. She has a testimony but is losing faith and courage to bear her testimony.  We are definitely working with her, as is Felipe and Aline and the members! Miracles will occur! 

I love this work! I know that there is no better feeling than the pure happiness I feel when I know that I’m doing the Lord’s work and seeing the miracles and the amazing changes in the people here whom we have the opportunity to serve.  Man!  A mission is tough.  Realllly tough, but I’ve never been happier in my life and never felt more fulfilled and more sure, more satisfied with where I am, where I’m headed and my purpose.  I know with 100% certainty that this gospel, this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the true church of Jesus Christ. This church is the only church with the power and authority of God to seal our families together forever, and to bring us the absolute peace and true happiness here, now, in this life, and forevermore after this life.  I love the Book of Mormon and the truths I learn from it.  The teachings are for all of us who live in this day and I know that these miracles can happen every day for every single one of us, if we're open and searching. 

Amo voces muiiiiiiiitoooooooo e agradeço cada um de voces por suas orações que realmente estão me carregando todos os dias.  [I love you guys so much and I thank each of you for your prayers that are really carrying me every day].    Voces estão em minhas orações todas as noites, pelo nome!  [You guys are in my prayers every night, by name!Beijos!!!  [Kisses!!!]

-Sister Yoshimoto


I hope camp was fun!!!
love you tons!!! send pics of camp! and your garden! peach season yet:? did you know we don't have peaches in brasil.... what is that about...

pps; This Saturday we’re going to have a wedding!!!!!!! for Daniel and Larissa!  I'm soooo excited!!! ahhh!! and Sister Merrill and I are going to sing for it....uh oh hahah. it'll be interesting.  At least SHE can sing! haha. I'll send pics!!<3