Life in Rio Grande

My area (in Rio Grande) is fairly rural.  There’s a decent amount of walking, but we do take the bus once or twice a day.  Normally we don’t contact people on the bus at all, but I started trying to talk about the church with random people on the bus just this week.  I always feel a little guilty if I don’t talk to everyone I see about our message.  However I still feel insecure about my Portuguese along with my conversational skills in general!  I feel guilty because I can just imagine meeting them in the Spirit World and them asking me why I hadn’t just turned to them on the bus and mentioned something about the Book of Mormon (or x principle of the gospel).  However, I am improving rapidly and am learning to just let go of all of my embarassment and anxiety and just talk to everyone I meet.  I know that God is helping me with this.  I have to remember that I am a representative of Jesus Christ.  If Christ were in my shoes, He would talk to everyone and smile and serve everyone- so I must try and do the same. (I just thought of this. Yoda: “No try, only do.”  I must certainly take Yoda’s advice into account and just go and do.)  The good thing is that complete rejection is relatively rare here, so I don’t have to worry too much about that. Brazilians are pretty open to any conversation for the most part. :)  I’m so grateful for that.

There are some different religions here.  There are some African ones that meshed with Catholisism.  There’s some Candomble (apparently), and espiritismo.  It’s semi-alarming to see ‘oferenda’ (offerings?) in the middle of the street at night.  An oferenda is just an offering of food to the ‘spirits’ every night.  Hmmmm.. Sounds a little sketch. yeah.  I don’t know why it has to be in the middle of the street though.

There are a lot of Evangelicals and Catholics here too.  Nearly everyone we talk to already belongs to one church or another.  It’s pretty cool that they already recognize God and are excercising the faith that they have.  But it can be frustrating too because sometimes they think that they have all of the information about Christ that they need already.

Apparently in all of Brazil (outside of the CTM) you cannot flush toilet paper down the toilet. Hmm.. I did not know this, and I of course put toilet paper in the toilet after arriving at our apartment!  It was a little funny when Sister T (my companion) had to explain it to me. Apparently all of the american foreigners do the same thing.

Anyway this week was just fantastic (for the most part).  I am such a standout in this region – it’s kind of weird.  The only other ‘true blond’ I’ve seen is another American sister in my zone.  I’m sure she stands out too.  Everybody tells me I look just like a doll (or barbie).  It’s weirding me out.  They just kind of stare at me for long stretches and then ask the question “You’re shy aren’t you?”  And then I try to explain to them that I just don’t quite know how to express myself in Portuguese yet…not to mention the fact that I have no idea what to say when they look at me like a little playdoll.

My companion is amazing.  She is from Brasilia.  We get along really well.  I make her do yoga with me or go running in the mornings.  Working out in some format really helps me de-stress.  Although sometimes it seems like we work out more during the day because we are constantly running to catch buses or reach appointments on time. My only complaint would be the lack of progressing investigators.  We need to work harder to get more people keeping their commitments.

General Conference was so amazing and uplifting.  All of it was in Portuguese, however, and that made it a little more difficult to understand what was being said.  I understood Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk the best (you know because he talks at the pace that a turtle walks…slowly).  His pace of speech used to irritate me slightly in the past, but this time I really appreciated it because I could understand the slower translation so much better.  It was a blessing, truly.  And the talk in Portuguese was so dang cool!  History is being made folks.  This church is becoming even more diverse- it’s cray cray.

I think that the best way to approach conference is with questions, and I did just that.  You would not believe how well my questions corresponded to the talks given during conference.  God truly does answer prayers.  Now I just need to put all of my learning into practice.  I hope that I can help my investigators better with this knowledge.  Prophets are so important in this day and age!

I gotta go!

Tell me all about your very favorite talks and what y’all have been up to!  I love y’all so much.  Keep up the good work.  Keep the faith.

-Sister Jessop

First Letter from the Mission Field!

Lots of pics in this one. Okay so I have no time to write! Ah! But I arrived safely. I hope you enjoy all the pictures. I am in Gaucho land in Rio Grande. Everything about the field is way different from the CTM. I already miss the planned meals and schedules. Out here you make your own schedule. Weird. Talking with ‘real’ people is a lot more intimidating. I had my very first baptism already! Yay! Anyway I love you all so much. There is much more to come next p-day. Sorry but today was mostly a sending pictures day. 😛

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The view of Rio Grande from my mission apartment.

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A pic of Sister T (my new companion) and me after a long day of training and traveling.

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A baptism in my first week. A really cool guy.

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President and Sister Swenson in Porto Alegre

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Sister Remmington (from California,) Sister Larsen (from Taylorsville, Utah,) Sister Guy (my companion from South Jordan-she’s the best) and me at the Campinas Temple

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Us saying goodbye (kind of). I love these girls so much.

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Elders Willoughby, Ockey, Hale, Garrett, Sister Guy, me, Sister Larsen (sadly in the shade,) and Sister Remmington. My absolutely amazing CTM district. I cried, sweat, and bled (not really) with these wonderful folks. I can’t wait to hang with them after the mission.