Thursday, August 28, 2014

Growing with the People of Maranhao

August 27, 2014

Oiiiiiii tudo bem?    [Hi!  How are you?]

Meus queridos! [My dear ones]  It seriously looks like Hawaii here.  I will take pictures one day. but it’s really difficult because it’s so sketchy and poor here and there’s like assaults and muggings every day so I have to be sneaky with photos. -------------but don’t worry, Mom, it’s super safe, we’re like invisible here. ------

I’m sooooo incredibly excited for Kevin Lu!!! and Matthew Larson!  Wow! I seriously was soooooooo happy reading Kevin’s letter!  I want to write a letter to him, but I’d have to send it like now because he leaves the MTC in October right?  Okay, I’ll see if I can send it ASAP! or I’ll email it to you and you can send it to him for me?  Yay!  Technology!

So I read this week about your hike!  How exciting!  Sounds suuuuuper intense but super pretty and fun.  We’ll have to go again when I get back! :) okay?  Perfect!  In the ice water during winter haha.

Also, tenho perguntas!  [I have questions]  How is Cami doing???   Is Emily liking school? And also, are Uncle Chucky and Aunty Megumi still meeting with the missionaries?  How’s that going? :)

This week I have been unofficially put in charge of our zone t-shirt!  So it’s been a little stressful and busy, but it’s been super awesome because I felt more at ease with this kind of stress and responsibility … Finally, I am able to release some creative energy … haha.  I’ll send a pic when it’s done.  It should be done this week. :)  I’m excited!  It’s modeled after the soda of Maranhao -- Guarana Jesus.  It’s like only here in Maranhao.  It’s really weird like tutti fruitti flavor but it grows on you and agora [now] I like it aloooot. haha. 

But also, best of all, this area is finally looking up!  This ward is one of the most struggling wards in this mission.  I see why even the active members are very fluctuante—translation ... [back and forth] ----  They are still learning and growing, but some really struggle.   Really it’s just the returned missionaries and their families. The rest come sometimes, and sometimes not.  It’s really tough.  I was talking with the other sisters about it and really what it comes down to is that Heavenly Father won’t trust this ward with more baptisms and more of his children who are truly looking, if this ward won’t take care of them.  I know I said this before, but it’s really starting to show.  This ward has trouble taking care of its own.   We’re plannning like crazy for activities and ideas to reach out to the menos ativos.  [less actives]  I’m super excited!  I love this ward, but it is sooo tough when many are so worried about the wrong things. 

We had an investigator named José. He suffers from real bad depression, and I know it’s like clinical because it seriously comes in waves and he’s been battling this for 3 years.  It has gotten so bad that he’s turned into this dark, pessimistic, kind of person who gets drunk every single day.  He is more like an adolescent with a dark look at everything.  It is sooooo incredibly sad because we try to talk and testify and teach but I’ve just never seen someone so incredibly in disbelief.  I read in the Book of Mormon sobre [about] the people in disbelief and I never truly understood some parts until now.  For exemplo, [example] the last time we talked with him. I almost cried.... I testified and promised that if he just went to church one time, he would feel better.  Not completely everything would change, but if he went just once, I promised that he would FEEL something and find hope again. He said no, it won’t work, there’s no hope for me, there’s no way.  I said you don’t know that!  It is worth at least a try!  And he said no, it won’t work.  In my mind the story of Moises [Moses] and the golden serpent came to mind and I asked him about it.  I compared it to him and he thought a minute and said no, it’s different with me.  It wont work.  I tried again to compare but he cut me off and said, “It’s different for me.  It won’t. work.”   And he walked away with such a cloud of despair and hopelessness.  I just stood there looking at him trudge off and I felt the most overwhelming sadness.  I knew for even just a second how our Heavenly Father feels with each child He loses to our own agency... 

I just thought there for a minute how heartbreaking it must have been for Moises [Moses] to see his people, his family, and friends, dying there on the ground with not even enough faith to look up at the serpent.  In pain they’re there as Moises [Moses] was just begging them to look up and they would be cured and saved!  But how many of them were dying there thinking, “Its different for me.  It won’t work for me.”  This is the definition of disbelief.  Sometimes, I doubt my faith or have some reservations, but then I think if I can just muster enough faith to just act and to just TRY Him, just TEST this promise in the scriptures, I can see the miracles and grow my faith .. but this disbelief that kills miracles, is simply the lack of even trying.  Faith truly is dead without works.  How incredibly heartbreaking it is to see some without even that amount of faith and they are dying spiritually. 

On the other hand, we have an amazing family -- Ruy and Brena.  They are soooo super young but they are truly progressing!  They aren’t married yet legally but we set a date and this Friday we are re-uniting at the cartorio [notary or justice of the peace] ---place to marry-- and vamos [we will] set the marriage and baptism for this day!  At first they were very nonchalant with it all,  It was kind of like “Sure, whatever works, we’ll go with it.  Maybe we’ll marry maybe not for another 10 years or so.”   But now the real miracle is that they’re super excited because they never thought about an Eternal family before.  With this new vision, they truly are ready to do anything to attain their potential como [as] spouses, and future parents.  It is amazing how the truth and the spirit really opens and changes people for the better.  I’m super excited for them!!!!!  Also, we’ve been finding more and more families and individuals with real potential. They are really looking for the truth and for something more.  I’m so excited!!!  I know that with our work with the ward, the elects will be coming out ready to accept the complete evangelho [gospel] and truth restored. 

I looooove this work.  There is an incredible joy that comes from serving the lord and constantly being immersed in His spirit and learning and growing through challenges and trials.  This is my mission and MY conversion story and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.   Talvez [perhaps] it’s just another mission in Brasil, same stories and same experiences, but to me it is unico [unique]. I love my mission!  Wow.   I am so grateful for everything I learn every single day. 

Amo voces demaisssss!!  [I love you, too]
Have a great week!   I love you allllllllll!
-Sister Yoshimoto

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