Monday, April 25, 2016

I Will Have To Kill A Duck?!!

So this week I learned about three things: Lightening, Rain and Prayer. 

We arrived in Porto Alegre last week and started contacting people right there in the airport! It was awesome. Then I had the craziest driving experience of my life with the Presidente at the wheel. People here are crazy drivers! Lets all add seatbelts to one of the things were grateful for this week! Ha! 
Presidente Cruz and Sister Cruz

After we ate the most delicious meal I've had since being here in Brazil. The CTM was truly cafeteria found in comparison! It was at the Presidente's house which is in the most beautiful area of Porto Alegre. That I've seen that is.

That night we stayed in a fancy hotel! Swan Tower! It was super nice and I took the greatest shower of my life there! Maybe I had just gotten too use to the CTM shower that just drip drip drip when you are trying to get conditioner out of your hair! 

The next day we had classes and field training and right afterwards they sat us all down and starting giving us new companions. The Presidente would dramatically describe our new areas and announce our new companion. Now my Portuguese is getting better, but that day, I had no idea what was going on, but the Presidente was talking right at me, announcing "Arroio Grande!" people were cheering when the redheaded Sister Knuth popped into view and translated the last and most confusing sentence of my life, "You'll have to kill a duck!" What?!?! "Okay...?" I said to my new companion as I tried to figured why I had to kill a duck and if she was actually serious! 

After lunch we headed straight for the bus station and with a 6 hour trip ahead of us we settled in! We didn't arrive until 10:30 and were exhausted! I honestly didn't even see the house.I made my bed and fell right to sleep! 

The morning of my first day in the field we got a call and had to hop on a bus for our district meeting 45 minutes away. Well, unfortunately, we didn't know it was a holiday and we got stuck in another area for 2 hours as we waited for the bus! Nothing was open, but Sister Knuth actually recognized the area so she showed me around. We walked down to the river and stared at Uruguay for a bit. It was so cool! Many people spoke spanish there because they worked or lived in one country or the other. 

Since then it's been raining. And a couple nights ago we had a crazy thunder and lightening storm! Then all through the day there was thunder and lightening! It was crazy! I've never seen anything like it! All day long the sky flashed! 

I've met so many amazing people here! I love the people of the church! And I love our investigators so much!

We have a recently baptized couple, Skarlet and Nixon who have a little baby, Arthur. They are amazing! I truly love them! They are very close in age to us so it's interesting dynamics. The other night we were preparing to go teach them a lesson with the Restoration DVD, but we couldn't find it anywhere! And Sis Knuth remembered that the other Sister companion she had had given it away! All we had was a DVD in spanish and english! We had three options. Come up with a completely different lesson, pray that Nixon and Skarlet receive the gift of tongues and understand English, Or pray that we find the DVD. Now Sister K had given up, but I said a quick "Thy-will-be-done" prayer, moved a piece of paper and noticed a salmon envelope was open with the Restoration DVD sticking out. Thy will be done. 

After our lesson with them they fed us some cake and then they didn't let us stop eating cake. I think I had three slices of cake! And two slices of homemade bread! This is a theme though with every family here! You cant leave a table without at least having seconds 😬  Haha! 

And we ate at a families house the other day, Flavio, and I found out that it was at their house I will have to kill a duck... Pray for me because I just don't think I can. Apparently Sister Knuth couldn't so maybe they wont make me! (Don't tell Sister Degn! She loves even Mosquitos!)

Well I have zero time! Love you!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today!

This week Lauren leaves the CTM in São Paulo, and will be traveling to the Porto Alegre South Mission Field. We are excited to hear how this transfer goes for her!

Forget Myself, and Go To Work!

Journal entry: 

This is the last week in the CTM! So grateful for the Portugues I have learned, but I have a long way to go. For sure. I truly can't wait for the field. Vamos vamos vamos! I just want to get out there and get going! Sister Hawkes calls it, "Feeling Trunky." Which I just figured out to be wanting to pack your trunk to leave! Ha! 

I know my Portugues will grow out of necessity and out of honest effort for my pesquisadors. To think I'll be teaching real people soon! Even when we teach our instructors as they pretend to be Sueli, Maria, Denise, Marcos, or Tiago, etc. I truly love them. Imagine what it will be like when we teach real people! 

I dont even know if I'm scared. I've just decided I have nothing to be scared of. I have everything to look forward to and I couldn't be more grateful! And even if there is a part of me that fears, I decided to take some wonderful advice we all recognize and, "Forget myself and go to work." 

I think it will be hard. In fact, I know it will, but it will be more incredible than anything I have ever done and maybe ever will do. My trust is completely in the Lord and I know that as long as He is my focus, my foundation, I stand on sure ground. 

This work is supposed to be hard, but it is also supposed to be wonderful. And that is what makes it worth it.

We went on splits with Brazilians! My roommate Sister Bezerra was my companion for a day! It was so fun! We planned and taught a lesson together! She is seriously the sweetest! She's like 5 ft. and super sassy! We get go on splits again tomorrow!

Quote of the week: 
"I could get kidnapped and be tortured by terrorists without a word, but as soon as someone tickled me I'd give everything up!" Sister Degn. 
"Yeah, nuclear codes, CIA secrets..." 
"Ve've been vater boarding er vor 40 hours vithout a peep. Try touching her shoulder blade and see vhat happens." Sister Hawkes

São Paulo Temple

Friday, April 8, 2016

I have the Lord on my side, because I choose to be on His

Mosquito: send help! I’m being eaten alive! Haha! JK but for reals…

Conference was so amazing! I can’t believe it was last weekend though! The days and weeks are so strange here! I woke up yesterday and it was Segunda and I woke up this morning and it was Pday! Haha! Yet conference feels like it was a million years ago! We watched almost everything on the same day as you, just several hours later! Except for Priesthood and Women’s Conference. On Sunday morning we got up and watched WC and the Elders watched Priesthood. Plus we got to listen to everything in English! It was so wonderful to hear all their voices and truly understand them! Ha! I’ll have to send you pictures of my notes! They are a little mess, but I got like 15 pages of notes! Basically a print out of what was said! In fact, the church is just going to use my notes as the next Ensign…haha!

I honestly loved the talk about helping the refugees also! It was very different for sure though, but very inspired. They are in my prayers for sure. I hear of many people who are helping them adjust and families who are working with them to teach them host languages. It’s so beautiful how people support each other in times of crisis. We truly have a duty to do so. We don’t know anything that is going on in the world right now though. We found out about the Belgium bombings through a Sister a couple weeks ago. It’s both nice and difficult to be cut off from the news.

Our Brazilian roommates left! :( We miss them, but maybe not all the late night yelling –haha! Our new roommates are super sweet though! And so helpful with us! It’s so fun to just converse with people in Portuguese (very, very broken port/ingles on my end but still :) )

Elder Sinsel asked us in devotional yesterday night, “How strong is your testimony?” And it just got me thinking about my own testimony and the worth of souls. We’ve discussed it a lot and one of the greatest aspects of this gospel is that there is always room to grow and chances to do so. Every day I’m trying to focus more on the good and positive things when something bad happens. It’s making me a more patient person and becoming someone better than I am. It’s exciting, and I find I’m not scared. I have the Lord on my side because I choose to be on His. Alma 30:8 Hoje, amanha, e para sempre.

Con amor, 

Sister Hemmert

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Day in the Life of a CTM Missionary

Many of Lauren's letters are pictures she sends us of her actual letter. This needed to be posted just like she sent it…we sure enjoy getting to see Lauren's witty sense of humor shine through in her writing!

Sister vs Irma

If anyone has been wondering why Lauren’s missionary tag says 'Sister Hemmert' versus Irma (Portuguese for sister) Hemmert, like we were, this is her reply:

Sister Hemmert distinguishes us from the instructors and the members. It’s more respective here to call us Sister. The Spanish Sisters are Hermana, but we’ll be Sister. Except they say it more like, “Seester” 


In São Paulo the buildings seem to grow in every direction. It appears as though they are stacked on top of each other, growing up and out and around each other. Without fail there are two prevalent architectural features or aspects: beauty and graffiti. New buildings, old buildings, houses, churches, sidewalks, trees- all these seem to be coated in some way by graffiti. Even spaces where it should be impossible for someone to have reached (i.e. 13 stories above the ground on a windowless building) yet there it is. Every surface is a canvas for vandalism.

The heart of São Paulo 30, 40, or 50 years ago must have been a pinnacle of beauty and architecture. Incredible, old, ornate buildings are entrenched in layers and years of vandalism. But even with the graffiti, there is something spectacular about this city, something resilient, but also something open.

Today we went proslitismo for the first time! It was incredible. Our area was the center of São Paulo where the Theatre De Municipal, the historic buildings, façade depicts 4 giant statues struggling beneath the weight of stone above them. The image is reminiscent of Atlas who held the sky aloft, but I found that the figures who drew our attention were not the goliaths of the municipal theatre but were the real people struggling beneath the weight of cloth and cardboard shelters.

Irma Santos (literally an angel, or at least a woman with enough faith that could could literally call angels to protect us if she needed to- I am truly convinced of this) split us into groups so that two Elders would always be in sight of two Sisters. Sister Carrillo and I were paired with Elder Sinsel and Zylks. Sister Degn/Hawkes w/ Batchelor/Doria. After praying our group headed wearily across the street. We had to stay in constant view of Irma Santos, which we would be incredibly grateful for soon.

Every companionship had 10 Livro De Mormons in clear backpacks (and our umbrella and water bottle-that’s all we could bring, and all we want to bring). The first person we ask is nice, but doesn’t want one. The second man already has one but we couldn’t understand the rest of what he said because the noise was insane- cars, motorcycles, people. Everything was fighting for our attention and to make it more difficult we realized that the main reason so many people were on this side of the street was because an evangelist was preaching via microphone to a crowd.

Third person, nada.

So, we stop a woman walking by. At first she doesn’t want to stop but then she does and pulls out her bible from her backpack. There was a moment where she almost wanted to listen. Sister Carrillo was speaking with her about how both books work together as scripture, in fact are supposed to be together when another man leans in. To be honest, I had no idea what he was saying and he immediately won the woman onto his side. Sister Carrillo didn’t even know what he was saying and I think he knew also. He kept telling us we needed “to know the fruit of Joseph Smith” and something about the reason he died is because he had too many wives. Behind him, some 20ft away, Irma Santos motioned to me to leave. We were running out of time and we hadn’t given out a single Book of Mormon. But how could we leave when he wouldn’t let us. He was speaking and he was pointing at the sky and counting on his hand the “fruito de Joseph Smith?” Plus…you can’t be rude!

I was praying for understanding. For a way to leave this situation. I think I hoped that it would come through the gift of tongues but no, it came in the form of another man passing by, pointing to the Book of Mormon in my hands and asking for it around the yelling man. We gave it to him and somewhere in our brief conversation with him before he slipped it into a plastic sack of his belongings and left, the other two people disappeared. I keep thinking about the woman’s shirt though. It said, “If you don’t try, you never know.” HA!

After that we talked with Irma and she said how Brazilians love to talk and that we had until 3:00 to meet with her and leave. It was 2:35! At this point we decided to cross the street to the theatre steps where people were collected. Both Sister Carrillo and I have discussed that as soon as we crossed the street, there was quiet. It was almost tranquil.

In the next half hour we didn’t just hand out our own books, but helped our district hand out their books. By 3:00 Sister Carrillo and I had given out 18 Livro De Mormons! 18!!! It was incredible!!!

While we were handing out the last of our BOMs a man was bothering Irma Santos, our instructor. He was a homeless, shirtless, possibly drunk man that we had seen earlier in the day. She was discussing with another man the BOM when the drunk man stumbled up to her and tried to apparently talk to her and touch her shoulder. Sister Carrillo and I were back across the street with the Elders getting some of their BOM’s to help them finish handing them out. I was watching her though, and was about to run across the street to help her when the man fell to the ground and looked like he fell asleep. Later, whenever he would try to come up to us missionaries he would fall on the ground again. We found out later that Irma Santos had been praying that he wouldn’t be able to touch her or us. It was crazy and such a blessing. I truly believe God works in mysterious and sometimes very loud ways. He might (quietly) simply give you an impression that you should cross the street or He might (loudly) not let someone potentially dangerous get near you. If that makes sense.

Another funny experience. We were talking to this man and he seemed super excited about the word of God and he even told us how he loves God, but when we tried to give him the BOM he kept telling us, “Oh, no, no. I don’t like religion. This is religion.”

Also, when you give out the BOM you have to call it a “presente.” So many times we’ll be talking to someone and they’ll seem a little interested but also not committed. And on occasion they’ll even say, “Oh no, I have no money. No money.” But as soon as we say, “No, presente para voce!” their whole demeanor changes. Nothing is free in Brazil, but here we are giving them something completely free. Something we can promise them will change their lives! And they love it. People lean in when they hear we’re talking about Christ and they get truly excited when they realize that we are simply giving it to them! It’s amazing.

Several times we were talking to people who go, “No Portuguese. Only English.” And of course, Sister Carrillo and I would surprise them, “Oh ok! We’re missionaries from The Church of…and we have a message for you about the gospel of Jesus Christ!....Now this book is in Portuguese, but if you call this number or got to this site, missionaries can come and bring you one in your own language and teach you more information about this other testament of Jesus Christ. For free.”

It was so incredible to see how much it brightened them to talk about Christ. This is such a God loving culture (except for the one atheist man we asked to talk to. “I’m an atheist, dear. Obrigado mas Bom Dia.” –He was super nice about it and so was his partner, haha!:)) You’ll ask, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” and they’ll say, “Who doesn’t?” And everyone is so easy to talk to and so accepting. In my other half of my letter there are more details about hardships, but these were some positive experiences.

After, when we were waiting for our bus, it began to rain and rain, and then, it hailed the size of
quarters! It was insane. Irma Santos told us it was pretty rare. The rain was feet deep in some areas! Last week our district got stuck in a rain storm and because of Easter everything was closed. By the time we got back to the CTM we were soaked! It was seriously so fun though. We learned however if you just wait the storm might let up for one minute. But only one minute because then the clouds would break open again and you’ll be stuck in worse weather than before! Haha! It was incredibly fun. Well I gotta go! They’re kicking us out.

Love you! Tchau!

Sister Hemmert
Sister Hemmert, Sister Carrillo, Sister Hawkes, Sister Degn