Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oi Familia!
I am here! I am here! This is the happiest place on earth. Disney World doesn´t have a chance. Things are going great and I am learning a ton.
I found out that I had received my visa on Sunday morning and then I left early Monday morning. I traveled from California to NY to Sao Paulo to Ribeirao Preto. It was a long journey and I am just barely overcoming the lack of sleep, but all is well. The journey went wonderfully and I didn´t have any problems at all. It was quite a blessing. I flew alone until I got to Sao Paulo where I met up with about 10 other missionaries going to Ribeirao Preto as well. Elder Oxendine and Elder Wooley from my MTC district were there. It was good to see some familiar faces after two days of being so alone! As a missionary that is something that I never experience.
When we arrived in Ribeirao Preto the mission president and his wife met us at the airport and then we went to the mission home for dinner. It was a very delicious Brazilian spread with rice and beans and this chicken stroganoff stuff and maracuja moose for sobremesa. Every meal here is pretty much the same with rice and beans and lots of greasy meat. The meal we had with the Bradfords really is quite correct. We are fed for lunch every single day and if the members that signed up don´t want to make food they straight up give us money. We also usually eat with a set of Elders that are also serving in our ward (Campos Elisies, Brazil). They are both American so they can always help if I don´t understand something. Don´t worry Mom, we are very much taken care of, I just might come back looking a little wider because we never eat anything healthy! I mentioned to Sister Jales that I liked fruit and broccoli and now with everyone we eat with she says, "Ela é saudável!"
Speaking of which, we new companion is Sister Jales. She is a Brazilian from Fortaleza, Brazil. She speaks no English, but not for long. She has been out for three months just like me and is so cute and happy all of them. Some of things I do she thinks are really funny and some of the things they do I would never think of doing (like eating cough drops like candy...) so we always have a lot to laugh at each other about. Although it is sometimes difficult to communicate, I know having a Brazilian companion is a huge blessing. I can pretty much understand everything she is saying now. Not any of the other Brazilians that we talk to, but her I can. She is a hard worker and strives to reach our goals. We will do great work together!
This week I invited two people to be baptized and yesterday did a contact completely by myself! I am learning quickly with Sister Jales´s patient help. This is the best place in the world. Sorry, I really wish I could write more, but we always run out of time at emails! You have to pay by the minute here too and I don´t think I can print out my emails anymore so if you want to send letters instead I could peer over them longer. They say it only takes 1 to 2 weeks to receive letters from the U.S. Talk to you soon! I love you all!

Sister Marchant

Oi Presidente Brum!
It has been a great week. I love the people and culture here already! The people are so happy here, especially Sister Jales. She is a wonderful trainer and is always smiling. Nothing will bring her down, which makes me happy all the time too! She is very patient with my Portuguese and helping me adjust to this new missionary life. I am very blessed to have her as a trainer. I love working with her.

We had a lesson with Sebastiao, Sandoval and Claudia, and Paula and Anderson.
Sabastiao´s lesson was right before stake conference on Saturday. He had a bunch of questions about 2 Nephi 2 so we reread that chapter with him and we, or rather Sister Jales answered all of his questions and covered all of his doubts. She is an excellent, bold teacher and is confident in what she says. I understood almost all of that lesson actually, but said very little. I did invite him to be baptized though and he said probably for the 9th of November. We called him yesterday though and he was saying that might be a little too soon so we will have to talk with him more about it. He went to the Priesthood Session of Stake Conference though and stayed for the night session afterwards. That is a lot of church in one day! I have faith he can reach the waters of baptism if he keeps praying and reading. His big concern is that he wants to finish reading the Book of Mormon before he prays about it. We are trying to help him see that God answers prayers at all times in our lives and at all steps of our conversion.

We taught Sandoval and Claudia a little bit about baptism and invited them to Stake Conference. Unfortunately, they were surprising out of town this weekend, and Claudia works every Sunday in the mornings when we usually have Church. They do not fully grasp the importance of attending Church, but if we can overcome that hurdle, and don´t think that there would be anything else holding them back from baptism. They know the Book of Mormon is true, but are not yet willing to sacrafice for it.

Our lesson with Paula and Anderson was about Os Tres Maneiras para Tornarse a Familia Mais Feliz. They accepted our lesson well and had lots of comments. We are helping them overcome some family arguments right now and are planning to set them with a baptismal date at our next lesson. They are very kind and want to become better together.

As far as I know these lessons went really well! I can´t understand much of what the Brazilians we teach are saying, but I can now understand most of what Sister Jales says. I am learning a ton everyday and Sister Jales is very helpful. She is learning some English too! I love sharing this work with her.

We also reached our goal of 140 contatos por semana! Even though we were not able to make any contatos the first few days of the week since I arrived later, we were still able to reach our goal. Yesterday after Stake Conference we still needed over 20 contacts. Then the thunderstorm started up and I honestly didn´t think we would be able to do it. Sister Jales and I said a prayer to ask for the help of the Lord to find people in the ruas to talk to. We started walking farther and were able to get all of the contatos we needed in only half an hour! We offered another prayer of thanks to God. Right when we finished the rain stopped. We were then able to achieve 9 over our goal. It was a miracle to me and strengthened my testimony in the power of prayer. Prayer is such a huge blessing. The first few days were a little difficult for me to adjust with jetlag from the plane, but I know that through prayer God helped me through it. I know that God answers every single prayer I offer. He is so good to me.

Things are going well and I am learning a lot! I love being a missionary! Brazil and Sister Jales make me so happy. I want to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength to bring these people unto Christ and to bring honor to my God. "In the strength of the Lord I can do all things."

Thank you Presidente,
Sister Marchant

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hello Familia!
MASON CAME TO CHURCH!!! Okay, I know you have never heard of Mason before because we actually just met him this week, but he is officially our first real investigator that Sister Cusick and I started teaching that has come to Church. He is so golden and has such a desire to learn more. See below for more details but just know that he is the man.
I gave a my first talk as a missionary this week! It was on inviting others to come unto Christ, very appropriate for missionary work. It went pretty well and it is a relief to be finished. I was nervous but not as nervous as I usually am once I started talking. Doing missionary work can really help you in all aspects of your life. There is no doubt to me that this Church is true and that the Lord is hastening His work. I love sharing this good news with everyone we meet.
I had some neat studies today during personal study. I was studying from Jesus the Christ. I have wondered for a long time why we say that Jesus is the Christ and what this title really means. In the introduction of this book it says "The solemn testimonies of millions dead and of millions living unite in proclaiming Him as divine, the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer and Savior of the human race, the Eternal Judge of the souls of men, the Chosen and Anointed of the Father--in short, the Christ." All of those wonderful descriptions are all included in the title of Christ. It means a lot more to me and I appreciate the respect we use in this Church related the Savior, by always referring to Jesus as the Christ or Lord of all. He is the leader of our work as full-time missionaries and in all aspects of the Church. I love bearing His name every day.
I don't have a lot of time because I have had computer problems today, but just know that all is well in Zion! There is no news on the visa yet but I could care less because Sister Cusick and I are getting into the groove. We work well together and are very open with each other and happy. I am so blessed to have her as my trainer. Even through any opposition, she is a rock in the gospel and in missionary work.
I love you all lots! Have a fantastic, missionary-filled week,
Sister Marchant
Dear President Castro,******
It has been a great week. We have had some wonderful lessons and met some great people. This has really been a week of growth and cleansing. Sister Cusick is a great teacher and I continue to learn a ton from her. She trains with charity and patience at my pace and helps me know what to improve. I am very blessed to have her as a companion.
This week we taught lessons to Mason, Paul, Noah and Gabe Ruiz, Sister Johnston, and Constantine.
Mason!! We are so excited about him. He is 23 and has a tender heart. We met him knocking this week. We were actually knocking a lot further down his street when one of his neighbors referred us to him. There is no way we would have gotten to his house if it wasn't for this referral. When we knocked on his door, he immediately opened and said "hold on a second, I want to talk to you." He grabbed some chairs and we taught him the entire Restoration on his porch. He was very receptive and had some great questions. He had been an atheist for all his life until a few years ago when he started to attend a Protestant Church. After moving to San Luis however, he hadn't gone to church for about a year and has been meaning to go back. He was praying to know which religion to join this past week. When we came to his door he said he felt like it was an answer to his prayers! We set up another appointment for Thursday of that week and invited him to institute and church. We taught him the Plan of Salvation on Thursday and he soaked it up like a sponge. He really liked the idea of having to know evil to appreciate good and also the three degrees of glory. He was really excited to attend Church and said he would be willing to be baptized when he learned more and came to know this was true for himself. Then on Sunday a member of the YSA Ward picked him up for Church and he stayed all three hours! He even commented in class and said that he really felt the Spirit. The ward really took him in and I know that is where he needs to be. On Sunday was passed his teaching over the the YSA Elders, Elder Wilson and Elder Bostrum. We are very excited to hear how he will progress. It was amazing to teach him the first two lessonsand to watch everything make sense to him and the light of Christ to enter deeper into his life. We definitely saw miracles through Mason this week.
We taught Paul a short lesson with parts of Mosiah 14 on Thursday. We bore our  testimonies of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. He has not been keeping commitments and has little desire to learn more or read the Book of Mormon. We gave him our number and invited him to call us when he wants to meet with us again, but as of now we dropped him. We hope that he will be able to see the difference of not having the gospel in his life and will want to come back.
We also taught Noah and Gabe this week about the Holy Ghost. It has been hard to get in contact with their family at a time when they are all available for a lesson, but we have been able to see Noah and Gabe more often. They are progressing and we have a lesson with them on Wednesday at the Church. We are planning on teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and recommiting them with a baptismal date. If we can help them to come to Church more consistently, I think they will be on the road to baptism.
Sister Johnston (RC/LA) has a great desire to improve. She is still greatly struggling with smoking, drugs, and has been sick the past week, but she reads her scriptures when she can and is working towards quitting smoking. She is excited to take the temple bus this week to visit the Temple Visitor's Center. We are really hoping and praying that her health will be good enough that she will be able to do this. We taught her a short lesson on patiently enduring trials through the love of Christ and looking to our leaders for guidance. She has been watching a lot of General Conference and learned a lot from the prophet and apostles words. We are trying to help her to rely more on her Priesthood leaders and the members of the ward because she is more under their stewardship in her trials, but we are still praying often for her.
Finally, we had a lesson with Constantine (60s) about the Book of Mormon. He moved from Romania a few years ago and has worked hard to transition into the culture and language of this country. We actually ordered a Romanian Book of Mormon for him and gave it to him this week. It was a really neat experience and he was so excited to get one in his native language. He promised to read it and we set another appointment with him for next week. He has been Catholic all of his life so it may be hard for him to change, but we are ready to teach him from the Book of Mormon to bring him closer to Christ.
We are working hard in this area! We are learning a lot and coming closer to Christ ourselves. I have found my personal studies to have been a lot more effective than they were at the beginning of my mission and I truly cherish all of the hours of study in the morning. I am also getting more used to all of the responsibilities of missionary work. Things are going great! Missionary work is always happy.

Thank you,
Sister Marchant

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hello there everyone!
 Wow, what an awesome week. General Conference was amazing. I loved hearing their wonderful words of wisdom and learning about the gospel with a deeper focus. After studying the gospel all day every day, the words of prophets meant so much more to me. I am excited to try to apply their teachings to my everyday work. Some of the themes that I noticed in Conference this year was becoming converted, enduring to the end, and of course :) missionary work! It was really exciting and helpful to hear so much emphasis on member missionary work, and helped a lot with preparing a talk I am going to give in Sacrament Meeting this next Sunday. The Spirit was strong and it was easier to stay focused this year. And...we had three investigators come to the Sunday Afternoon Session! (I'll leave you in suspense until you read further below...).
My favorite talks were probably Elder Nelson's on the amazing human body and self-mastery, David M McConkie (SS Presidency) on teaching with power and authority, and Elder Holland's on overcoming hardship and depression. A few little quotes from others that I really liked as well are, "tithing brings significant but subtle blessings", "when the Holy Ghost confirms that a principle is true, that is where true conversion takes place", "doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith", and the question "shall I falter, or shall I finish?". Overall I just felt super happy at the end of Conference. There is so much goodness and peace found through this Church and through Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and that the prophets and apostles are called through the inspiration of God.
The work is going well. The others missionaries in our district here in San Luis are hard working and we make a good team. We are always passing referrals around between us and learning and growing. This week in district meeting we talked a lot about meditation. It was something I always thought was kind of weird and have never really appreciated it, but this gave me a new view on meditating and how just a few minutes of thinking and contemplating to yourself can calm you down and help you organize your thoughts. We don't really have much extra time at all as missionaries, but with those few minutes after dinner or before bed I might take a little time to myself more often. I would highly recommend taking some time to slow down and enjoy the little things of life every once and a while.
Keep up the great work and be happy! Life is great!
I love you all!
Sister Marchant
Hello President Castro!******
It has been a fantastic week. There have been lots of miracles this week! We found some new investigators and had a few really great lessons. We also had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders which changed my life. They were so helpful and encouraging. And then to finish it all off Conference was wonderful. I have never been so excited for General Conference and it has never flown by so quickly. I learned so much this year. It was neat to have a different perspective on all of the talks as I was focused on applying each talk to missionary work and our investigators. Every talk in some way included inviting others to come unto Christ and to gain a testimony of Him. Even more than before I now know that we have a modern day prophet who speaks directly to God and has been divinely appointed. Their council is real and if we follow it we will be able to endure into the eternities in happiness.
This week we had lessons with Sister Johnston, Leonard, and the Ruiz Family.
Sister Johnston is the recent convert who is trying to quit smoking and become active every week again in the Church. She has a huge desire to become reconverted to Christ and has an amazing testimony of the Holy Ghost. She can clearly identify when the Holy Ghost is with her and when it is not. This is something that is helping her to leave behind her addictions and to try to raise her daughter in the correct values of God. She has had many medical problems recently but is working to take care of herself and her family. I know she can overcome her challenges because of her great drive to do what God wants her to do. We helped her unpack some boxes this week (she recently moved into a new apartment) and taught her a lesson on scripture study. She knows the power of the scriptures and prayer. She also came to General Conference for Saturday Afternoon Session and said she has a greater appreciation for the role of the prophet. We are praying a lot for her because she is going through a lot right now.
I taught Leonard this week with Sister Burwell during exchanges. He is quiet and it is sometimes difficult to know if he is understanding what we teach, but he is very respectful and always willing to have us come back. We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week and taught a lot about baptism. Brother Griffith, one of our ward service missionaries, was also present at the lesson. I think this helped show Leonard that there are a lot of different people in our Church and that there are definitely people he could relate to. We taught a lot more about baptism as well. He said he has prayed a little bit but hasn't received an answer yet. He doesn't fully understand why he needs to get rebaptized since he was already baptized as a baby in the Catholic Church. We will try to reteach him the Restoration with emphasis on the loss and then restoration of the priesthood.
We taught the Ruiz Family our first lesson with them last Wednesday! It went super great. At first when we came they were doing some major house cleaning so we thought we wouldn't be able to have a lesson, but then Rihanna (17) said we could pull a few chairs outside and talk for a little bit. One by one the other members of the family started to come out and join the lesson. We taught about prophets and the Book of Mormon. We also explained the purpose of General Conference and invited the whole family to come. They listened intently and had good questions. Then for the Sunday Afternoon Session, Noah (19) and Gabe (23) came to the Church for Conference! It was a great experience. They said they felt the Spirit and felt peaceful and happy. Gabe said the speakers expressed the way he had been feeling in ways that he himself could not explain. We are very excited to teach them more and to get their whole family more involved in coming together to Church. They are such happy people and are always ready to learn with open ears and hearts.
We also met a man named Vance this week while street contacting. He happened to be a former investigator in Tennessee who had almost been baptized but had been offended and stopped coming to Church. We answered a lot of his questions about the Church here and the organization of the Church. We invited him to General Conference...and he also came to the Sunday Afternoon Session! It was definitely a miracle that we found him only a few days before Conference began. He had to leave soon after it was over so we couldn't talk to him long, but he said he liked Conference and appreciated the excellent music of the Tabernachle Choir (he was a music teacher). We will try to contact him this week to start teaching him the lessons once again. He has a good heart and already believes a lot of what we teach is true.
Exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders was amazing! I was with Sister Burwell and learned SO much. She is a very bold and brave missionary. I learned not to be timid about talking to anyone and that you never know who will want to listen. Sister Burwell also was very straight forward and said the truth of the gospel how it is. I need to be more bold in my declarations and to try to keep conversations going longer on the doorstep. We also worked a lot on transitioning anything that someone says into the Restoration. Anything they say really can highlight a resored truth and allow us to teach and testify. I am confident at testifying what I know to be true but have had a hard time connecting getting to know people with the doctrine. Sister Burwell helped a lot and taught me skills that I can use in not only declaring but also teaching. Our lesson with Leonard went really well and I learned how to explain the doctrine a lot more simply and clearly. Sister Burwell and Sister Bennett also talked a lot about trusting in the Lord and not getting down on yourself for any reason. We talked about how damaging self-depricating thoughts are and how they are all from Satan. Sister Burwell taught that discouragment will only bring you down and that this is not what we should feel as instruments of the Lord. I have a greater determination to always be bold, happy, and excited to spread the word. I am learning missionary skills slowly, but I am learning, and little by little I will become the missionary I want to be.
I received a lot of great guidance from General Conference this week. Overall I felt an enormous amount of love from our leaders and thought that all of their ultimate goals was to teach us things that will make us happier. That is what the doctrine and gospel of Christ is all about! It is the good news of happiness that will lead us to neverending happiness in the world to come. I love learning so much about this great work!
Thank you President,
Sister Marchant