Monday, September 24, 2012

Greetings from Brasil!

This week I was able to experience the biggest holiday here in the Rio Grande do Sul......Semana de Farroupilha. This holiday celebrates the time when the Rio Grande do Sul rebelled against the rest of Brasil because they wanted to be their own country. Obviously, they lost this battle, so I don't know why they celebrate defeat.......but whatever floats their boat. Anyway, it was pretty awesome (besides the fact that NO ONE wanted to listen to the missionaries that day). All of the men dress up in traditional Gaúcho clothing (cowboy hat, boots, bandanas, etc. I will send pictures) and the women in dresses called prendas. They have this huge parade with about a billion people on horseback carrying flags of the Rio Grande do Sul. I think it is a cool tradition. I enjoyed myself! We had District Meeting that day, so the Elders dressed up in their traditional Gaucho clothing. I am working on buying all of my traditional Gaucho clothing. One piece at a time. (I am a poor missionary). BUT, I have a pair of traditional pants called bombachas and a pair of traditional shoes called sapatilhas. 

One more week until transfers! After 4 months here in Montenegro, I am kind of looking for a change in scenery, but I will do whatever the Lord and President Wright want me to do. Also, one more week until my birthday! Praise the heavens that my birthday fell on P-Day. I am quite content with that fact! 

I am counting down the days until General Conference! I love it soooo much! I can't decide if these last 6 months went by fast or not, but I am just happy to be able to hear the words of the prophets again!

Sister Marques and Sister Castro have said that I have been talking in my sleep BIG TIME lately. Every night practically. According to them, I have introduced myself as Sister Barnes, tried to hold our weekly planning session, and talked about one of Sister Castro's investigators in my sleep. I am also eating A LOT lately. I have problems! 

This week, a 25 year old guy in my ward got his mission call. He was baptized 2 years ago and has been working since then to be able to pay for his mission. However, after he sent his mission papers in, he soon after heard from Salt Lake saying that they wouldn't be able to issue his mission call until he lost about 40 pounds. He has been working, exercising, dieting, praying for MONTHS to lose this weight so he would have the opportunity to serve the Lord. After months, he had only lost about 20 pounds. I saw him cry multiple times, discouraged that he would never be able to serve a mission. The other day, I got a phone call from him. I answered and he said, "I'm going on a mission to LONDRINA!!!!" (another mish in Brasil). His mission call came as a surprise in the mail the other day! I am so happy for him! I know he will make a great missionary because he will not take a minute of his time on the mission for granted! 

Love you all! 
Sister Autumn Barnes
McDonald's! Never really liked it at home, but I was in the mood for American Fast Food!
Stuck in a rainstorm!
My district in Gaucho clothing. 
 My Zone Leader, Elder de Oliveira. He will be going home in one week. I am wearing bombacha e sapatilhas. (traditional pants and shoes)
A traditional Prenda dress
Horses in the parade

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beloved Friends and Family,

I am still alive! Last night we had the worst storm that I have seen here in Brasil. Lightning, thunder, wind, and rain falling sideways. We got caught in it......there were times when Sister Marques and I literally couldn't move because the wind was blowing so hard against us. We had to link arms and push through the wind. We camped out at home because it was super dangerous to be out there. But, we survived.....and today is a beautiful day!

Today is Sister Marques birthday! 23! I think we are going to a salon and she will be getting her hair done. By the way......I am going blonde! Blonde! The sun is so crazy strong here that it is burning my hair to a crisp!

We found a guy named Marcos this week while knocking doors. He is 26 years old and you can tell he has had a rocky past. Tatoos up the wazoo, longish hair, various holes in his ears where he once had piercings, etc. I think he talked to us at first because he had the hots for Sister Marques. But after we taught him a little, he became interested in our message. We went back a few days later and he had read the pamphlet and prayed about it. We also gave him a Book of Mormon and while we bore testimony of it, the spirit was SOO strong. Sister Marques and I felt it, and there is no way that he couldn't have felt it as well. I always pray that my investigators will be able to submit to the spirit and resist temptation. I hope that he has submited to the whisperings of the spirit and has been reading and praying about the Book of Mormon!! I know it will make the difference that he is searching for in his life!!!.....I know it makes all the difference in my life!

Who is excited for General Conference? I am!!!! I wonder where I will be when Conference comes  round?! I have a feeling I will be transferred here in about 2 weeks! We'll see!

This week we had a conference in Canoas with an Area Seventy of Brasil, Elder Mazzagardi. It was super good. I could sit there and listen to him forever......although my fanny was starting to hurt a bit near the end. But wow......I was really surprised when he spent a huge chunk of time talking about the Law of Chastity. Not the law of chastity as it applies to our investigators........but to us. It scares me to death to know that a group of MISSIONARIES had to be warned of the all the dangers of breaking the law of chastity. He spoke very strongly about this. One thing that really stuck out to me is that he said that there is no distinction between the words "Law of Chastity" and "Exaltation." But anyway....the conference was awesome! I was also able to see a ton of past companions, friends, and President and Sister Wright!

I love you all! I am beyond grateful for the gospel! It has made all the difference in my life, family, and goals!  I love sharing it! Don't be afraid to open your mouth and share as well!

Sister Autumn Barnes

Monday, September 10, 2012

Family and Friends! 
Rain, rain GO AWAY!!!!
My word, it has been raining so much lately! Yesterday, Sister Marques and I left our apartment to meet with an investigator, Marcus, to take him to church with us. It wasn't raining at the moment, so we didn't think about taking umbrellas. we say in Portuguese, "A gente tomou banho de chuva." We took a shower in the rain. And to top things off.......Marcus didn't come to church because he had visitors. Awesooome! Another common mission saying, "The more you get rained on, the hotter your future husband will be." Oh yeah! 

This Friday we had a Zone Conference in a nearby town, Sao Leopoldo. President and Sister Wright were present, so it was good to talk to them. Sister Wright likes to use me as her translator. She is the cutest lady I have ever met. I love her to pieces. The four of us sisters in our Zone sang a musical number. We sang a Child's Prayer. Sister Young and I started by singing the "Heavenly Father, are you really there?" part in English and Sister Marques and Sister Castro followed by singing the "Pray. He is there" part in Portuguese. Then we sang  the separate parts at the same time, Sister Young and I in English and Sister Castro and Sister Marques in Portuguese. We ended by all singing in Portuguese. (hahaha that probably doesn't make any sense, but yeah).  It turned out awesome, if I do say so myself. Judging by Sister Wright's tears, it seems like she liked it as well! 

My last transfer seemed to drag by, but this transfer is flying by! Sister Marques and I are working a lot! We get home so tired that we plan for the next day, and then fall into bed! It is a satisfying feeling to be so exhausted from walking and talking all day! I often wonder where my strength, energy, and endurance comes from! However, the answer is simple.....from the Lord! The Lord loves his missionaries. He strengthens his missionaries! He sustains His missionaries. I know that he is personally strengthening and sustaining me each and every day. 

This week I received 9 letters and 2 packages! Paradise!!!!!!!! I tried to eat my flamin' hot cheetos slowly to prolongue my joy.........but NO! After months without flamin' hot cheetos, I devoured them! Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive in writing and such! I depend on your counsel and encouragement more than you all know! 

One thing I never understood before the mission.......the importance of home and visiting teaching. As a missionary, I see the duty we have as members of the church to strengthen others! Everyone do your visiting and home teaching! I have truly gained a testimony of its importance! 

I love you all! I love this work! I love the Lord!
Sister Autumn Barnes
Getting my nails done! Brazilians are so picky about nails!
Our quartet! We all live in the same apartment. Sister Young, me, Sister Castro, and my companion Sister Marques
With Sister Wright. Isn't she adorable? BTW.....I feel like a giant in this pic. 

During transfer at the bus station in Porto Alegre. This little girl is a member and wants to be a sister missionary one day! She came up to me and asked for a picture with me. Really, really cute.

Monday, September 3, 2012

August!!! What the crazy.....
I am doing well! I have realized that a mission is always hard, but it is so nice to have a good companion to help you get through all of it. I am really liking a Sister Marques. She is beautiful, talkative, and cheerful! She also knows English. She is the only Brazilian sister in our mission that speaks english fluently. Guess how she learned it? She never took a formal class or anything. TV, movies, and music. She knows all the slang.....which is really awesome.

So I am pretty sure that Sister Marques and I were visited by an angel or one of the Three Nephites. We were walking the other day (something we do quite often in fact) when we were stopped by a man. He started talking about how he learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a few years back. We talked a little bit, and set up an appointment with him. We went to his house for the appointment a few days later, and we saw him look through the window to see who was at the gate, and turn around. He didn't answer the door. I thought, "That is it. I will not come back if he doesn't want to talk to us." But, a few days later, I had the impression that we should try going to his house again. We arrived at his house, and he let us teach him. A few days later we go to his house and he tells us that he has some friends that live nearby that he wanted us to meet. We didn't have very much time, but we decided to go to his friends' house anyway. We got to the house and it was full of people. We started talking to all the people, and come to find out, half of the people there were members of the church that live in a different town. The couple that live in the house have already been to church with these friends. They were interested to hear about the details of church here in Montenegro....what time church starts, where it is, etc. We also found out that they aren't legally married yet, but they are just waiting for a birth certificate to make everything legal! A couple that wants to be married out of their own free will! That is a bit rare here in Brasil! Anyway, they are a really special family, they have friends who are members of the church, they will soon be legally married, they wanted to know about they are super prepared! I will keep you updated on them. The miracle of this story.....we went to the house of the man that stopped us on the street and introduced us to this family like two days after this happened. His house is completely empty! 

This week I went to the baptism of a boy I taught when I was in the trio. He technically lives in the other area, but I got permission from President Wright to go to his baptism because I taught him while I was covering both areas in the trio. His name is Jonathon and he is 22 years old. He loves Americans because he is learning English right now. The baptism was awesome, and he even bore his testimony in church the other day! 

Sister Marques and I are teaching SOOOO much right now! We are working super hard, walking a lot, sweating up the wazoo, talking with everyone. I know we will begin to see the fruits of our labors. 

Another cool thing that happened........I have been holding on to this one investigator named Malena. I have been teaching her for almost three months, and in these three months, she hadn't been to church once. It is definitely a no-no to spend precious time teaching people that aren't progressing when you could be out finding people that will progress. I have held on to her this long because I love her so much and I didn't want to give up on her. But, I really felt like I needed to drop her and move on. So, I went to her house and told her that I couldn't keep teaching her because she wasn't keeping her commitments. I was shocked by what happened next. She started crying. A lot. She got up to go to the bathroom to get tissue, so I gave her a hug. I told her that I loved her, and she said, "I WILL go to church this week. There is nothing that will keep me from going." Guess who arrived at church 20 minutes early yesterday. Malena. I was so so happy! I think she liked it, so we'll see what happens now! 

I know that God is a God of miracles! He is always waiting with miracles reserved for those who are willing to first exercise a little faith! 
I love you all! 

Sister Aut Barnes 

Jonathon's baptism
Some of the sisters and Sister Wright at the Bus Station in Porto Alegre. 
I finally met someone that can do the same thing with her thumbs! 
Helping Sister Holladay with her luggage!