One of the Fastest and Best Weeks EVER!

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Oi Família!

It does not feel like I talked to ya’ll this week! I was looking at pictures on my camera trying to decide what to send and thought oh I already sent the photos of the Christmas party…then I realized oh, that was this week! lol It was awesome talking to ya’ll and I am so glad that Derek and Rebecca’s wedding went well and everyone enjoyed it! Thank you for the pictures!

Jéssica was baptized this week! It was really a miracle and the Lord was definitely behind it all! On Thursday we were sitting with her and Raquel (the daughter of the Bishop that is the same age) doing FHE with only them because Jéssica’s mom said it would be too confusing with her Catholic background. After we ended the lesson and started playing a game, Jéssica’s mom came out and started saying that her daughter was horrible and that she need to really listen to what were saying and change. I took the opportunity to talk about the difference of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. I told her that for Jéssica to truly follow Jesus Christ, our teachings and change for the better she needed to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. That way, the feelings and knowledge of what we taught and she would learn in church would help. I then asked “Can she be baptized?” Her mother automatically said “Yes, I want her to.’  SCORE! We then scheduled the interview and left.

The next day after teaching the last lesson and taking Jéssica and Carlos to the Chapel to be interviewed, we returned with them and asked their parents to sign the baptism form. It was a breath holder moment. Her mom looked at it, read it, lectured Jéssica about the importance of the baptism commitment in following Christ, and then called over her husband to have his opinion. Before this time we never talked to her father about it because he was not home or did not want to talk to us. We waited in anticipation as he looked over the form and said “If she wants to be baptized she can, it is her decision.” Whew! Jéssica’s mom then signed the paper and gave us permission to start teaching Carlos, Jéssica’s younger brother.

Then on Saturday, we received a call from the grandmother of Jéssica, who after much beating around the bush asked her true question which was, “Will you make Jéssica go to another country after she is baptized?” Apparently this was something that they heard a lot from others. After assuring that we would not take her to another country and that everyone in our ward minus us were Brazilian and from Manaus and the importance of Eternal Families she softened and said that we had her full report. She especially liked that Jéssica would grow to be a good young woman and marry in the Temple to a good young man.

To me, this phone call was a testimony builder as we are able to promise that she would grow to be a good young woman and marry someone with values with confidence. Especially in the world today these promises of her becoming the best young women would seem false or lie. How wonderful that we have the courses and programs that allow this to happen.

We talked to the Bishop on Friday and decided to have the baptism Sunday after Church. Which was a good idea because Jéssica and her mother came together. It helped a lot of questions that her mom had about the church. Her grandmother showed up for the baptism. They were crying tears of joy and taking photos like no other before and after the service. They are truly an elect family and we will be working hard this next few weeks and transfer to help them stop smoking and drinking.

I included a picture of what she wrote herself on the blackboard after the baptism and a photo of her with her mom and grandma.

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The other photos are just for fun. Sister Cortez found out that she has parasites in her stomach so I did division on Saturday with a young woman in our ward. We were able to finish up all the work in Parque 10 de Novembro which is great as we will be having the ward split on the 20th of this next month and other missionaries will be placed there. Before we left I had fun making bubbles, apparently big bubbles are not very common. Henrick, the member’s nephew really enjoyed them.

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The other is a photo of the Christmas party we went to. The bottle that might look like wine is actually Integral Grape Juice, which I love because it tastes like the juice Grandma and Grandpa Janis makes. So it is like visiting Grandma’s house on break from school. 🙂

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So that is pretty much my week! LOL Feliz Ano Novo!

Eu vós amo!!!

Sister Janis

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Tomorrow!! Feliz Natal!

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Oi Família!

So first things first…I thought the wedding for Derek and Rebecca was on the 18th of December not the 28th! So I want to say for reals, Bom Casamento!! Espero que vocês têm o casamento incrível e acredito que Elder Janis é correto…vamos fazer de novo seu casamento no ano e meia! rsrs Será legal demais!

I am very, very excited to talk to ya´ll tomorrow! It does not seem real that it is Christmas and I have almost 7 months on the mission…time is flying by so fast!

We had our Christmas Party with all the zones in Manaus and Itacoatiara. (It is about four hours away from Manaus) We started off with talks from President and Sister Klein about Christmas and keeping the Holy Ghost within our companionship and how we can realize our name for this transfer, which is “Transferência dos Presentes para o Rei, Profeta e Salvador”. Service and sharing the gospel are the best presents to the King because through this manner His children can gain a testimony and return to him.

After the talks, we had Santa Claus and received a gift bag full of junk food and goodies. 🙂 We returned back to our seats and watched the Photo Movie with pictures from the year.  We ate an awesome lunch and did Secret Friend ( I received a journal that I am using to write the blessings of the day and events), visited the IPNA, which is like a Zoo with things from the Indians here. It was interesting and I attached some photos.

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We end up not moving to Parque 10 de Novembre this week because Sister Cortez’s knee started hurting really bad and we end up having to go to different areas via onibus almost every day. I feel like we live on the bus. It looks like after Wed. this coming week we would be able to have a break for awhile but on Friday Sister Cortez slipped and fell on her bad knee so we are most likely going to be doing Doctor visits the rest of the week or longer.

On Saturday there was a performance for Christmas at the Temple. Sister Cortez and I sang with all the missionaries from the Manaus Zones. It was fun especially to have everyone taking photos like we were pop stars. Here in Brazil, Sister Missionaries are very, very popular; random members are always asking to take pictures with you and shaking your hand. So Saturday I was pretty much blinded from lights flashing but it was really fun.

While we were doing the presents for the different families for Christmas, Bishop Navegantes asked if I would sing Love at Home (Onde Há Amor) this past Sunday. I haven’t sung solo in so long but it turned out pretty good.

We are still working with Jéssica and on Wed. will be able to do a FHE with her family. Her mom is making lasagna and whole bunch of other food for us. It should be pretty good!

Here in Brazil, Christmas is celebrated today and on 25th is the day to just stay with family and relax. We got permission from President Klein to stay out until 10:30 pm at the house of a member. We got many invites but decided to party at the house of Judite. I cannot wait for ya’ll to meet their family mom and dad. They love us a lot! lol Every time we visit their house they give us more food then we can eat and one time when we had lunch there I think Sister Cortez and I both ate 6 plates! This is huge because we normally only eat 1 and half, maybe 2. But they kept dishing out more food until we started covering our plates. lol Not all of the family is active, they have inactive and nonmembers. We will also be celebrating with their neighbors, so will be a great opportunity to share the gospel.

Tomorrow, we will go to the stake center to have a Zone Training Meeting (and hopefully receive the first half of your packages mom 🙂 then over to another family that is one of our favorites for lunch and then jet over to the other side of town to talk to ya’ll! Yippee!

I wanted to leave the best for last…I was able to bless three different families this Christmas.

Jian-His mother was only 12 when he was born and when was he was 1 or 2 years old got Polio. His mom tried to abandon him at the Hospital but her mother found and took him home. He now is restricted to a wheelchair and his mom is the only one taking care of him now since his grandmother died. Sadly his mom is into drugs and drinking but he is very strong in the gospel and the church is trying to help out so he can be self-sufficient after his mother dies also. I was able to bring over food and a white shirt and tie for church.

Francisca-This lady is very special! She in the final stage of cancer but is still very strong in the gospel. I was able to buy a towel turban for her hair and other stuff to help her be cared for and feel lovely. 🙂

Irmã Marcia e Família-This family is having a lot of problems with rebelling children and money. I was able to buy a toy for Sophia, the daughter of the only daughter of the family, towels for the rest of the family and lots of food. They were very grateful.

All in all it was a great experience and the joy and testimonies these families have are incredible.

Adoro-lhes muito! Quero desejar um Feliz Natal e todos os seus sonhos serão realizados!

Sister Janis

Moving Areas

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Oi Família!

I am so excited to talk to ya´ll this next week! The temple was wonderful! It was all in Portuguese and pretty easy to understand, at least until the very end. I was also able to have an interview with President Klein. It was a checkpoint in knowing how far my Portuguese was improved since the last time I was interviewed 3 months ago.

I included a picture of my companion and I drinking the hot cocoa that you sent mom!

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I received the second package and the package that Aunt Cheryl’s family sent! Our home is now a winter wonderland! Its actually been cold this past week. Yes I know it is 80 degrees, but dang is it cold! I wear a sweater for at least part of the day every day. The rain is also pretty cold here so with the lower temperature and wind it feels like a summer night in Utah. I’m liking it because I can have a little bit of a winter. 🙂

This week we had our Ward Christmas Party so I was able to have a photo of me and Jéssica taken! She is the girl in the middle and the other is the daughter of the bishop, Raquel. It was great to watch João interacting with the ward and Jéssica’s little brother Carlos running around super excited. lol

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Jéssica is really progressing. She came to church yesterday and is praying and reading everyday. We tried having her family join another for FHE tonight but everyone is busy today, so we will be having one only with them. I hoping it will touch the heart of Jéssica’s mother because right now she is reading the Book of Mormon well.  She works but we haven’t been able to teach to her. She said Jéssica doesn’t need to be baptized because she was baptized in the Catholic Church, so it should be interesting.

We also started teaching the 10 year-old son of João, João Lucas. He was quite a cutie with his questions. My favorite happened as we were leaving. “Will the world really end the 21st of December because my birthday is the 23rd and I really want to have my birthday!?!”  I reassured him that it would not happen and he could have his birthday. It will be a little difficult to baptize him because he lives with his mom in a different area and is the drummer for his church. We told João that he just needs to be attend at least once on Sunday, so he will be trying to work with João Lucas and his mother to get him here.

João has changed so much! It is amazing to see the progress he is having in the gospel and really taking everything in stride. I am hoping that he will be able to go and do baptisms for the dead soon. He is really excited about the temple.

So about moving…During the interviews this last week, President Klein gave us permission to live in the Elders’ Apartment when we need too. So for 4-5 days next week will be living in their apartment to do the work and maybe close their area. (Just reminder…the elders were transferred last 6 weeks so we are now covering two areas…therefore two apartments.) It should be interesting because the other area is more tranquil and we only have a map of half of the area.

This week also we have our Christmas Conference. In my mission because it is so big, we have four different ones and our president travels to the different states. We are going to be doing Secret Friend so that should be lots of fun. 🙂

I hope ya´ll have fun relaxing and preparing for Christmas! Give everyone a hi and a hug from me!

Com MUITO amor!

Sister Janis

Eternal Perspective

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Oi Família!

I hope ya´ll did not eat too many latkes! I bet having the whole family together was very fun. I have always appreciated how strong and connected our family is. Especially since we have strong traditions on Dad’s side and everyone lives close on Mom’s. Thanks for buying me an ornament this year; I will never forget the year I was in the Amazon Forest. I know you are wondering about my package…I still haven’t received it but I still have hope that it will come before Christmas. A lot of Americans are only starting to receive their packages this last week. I will be able to check two times this week since we have District Meeting and the Temple this week. Which is really exciting this week, as I will be able to go to the temple here in Manaus! I am very excited since it almost the exact floor plan as Oquirrh Mountain temple, so it will be just like home! We then have interviews with President Klein and lunch with all the zones here in Manaus.

I thought it funny when I saw the picture of Sarah with the shovel, my first thought was dang I am glad I did not have to do that growing up. So imagine my surprise when Dad said Sarah wanted to shovel snow! Keep that attitude Sarah because you will have to do it a lot! 🙂 Laura thanks for the message, I do have to say I do miss the snow a little bit…but we are starting the rain season this coming week so I will have warm snow until July. lol

The two pictures I included are of my companion and I before going to Stake Conference and the other is our neighbor who made a room for their porch out of soda bottles. I thought it was pretty funny; people here are so creative. The day after I took the photo we had a lot wind so it all came crashing down. I hope they build it up again.

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This week was actually pretty productive with Project Rescue and our investigators.

Daisy-She is a mother of two inactive members that has a testimony about the Book of Mormon and has attended church with her daughter and son for a long time but because she was living with her boyfriend she could not get baptized. She is now separated and is willing to be baptized. We just have to work on a baptismal date as she thinks she needs to have a lot of church clothes before being baptized.  I really like her a lot and she wants to meet ya´ll at the end of my mission.

Jessica (without Andreia)-As we were walking past the alley where Jessica lives, I felt that we should visit. Jessica and Andreia were home but it was very clear that only Jessica is interested. We taught the first lesson and found out that Jessica already finished the Book of Mormon and is almost half way through again! I am really praying hard that her mom will see us more as good examples and let us baptize her.

We discovered this week why we have had such a hard time getting our investigators to progress by reading and coming church. Almost all of our investigators here are members of Assembly of God. They have been told that they can listen to us but not read or go to our church because it might cause confusion. We went through 11 investigators in two weeks because of this.  I have been working and studying and listening hard to the spirit during lessons to overcome this challenge. It has helped this past week to know who really to teach and how to touch the hearts of our investigators.

One thing that I realized is that there are always opposites. As we were knocking doors for the project, we ran into an investigator or inactive member (we are not really sure because her life story about the church is really conflicted). She got really excited and said me and my husband were just talking about your church right now and want ya´ll to talk to us, but another day. We then scheduled an appointment. When we returned we were very surprised how different the conversation was. She turned out to just want to bible bash and try and convert us. We bore our testimonies many times and I felt like there was a block there. We are going to try one more time to teach because most of her doubts are in the first lesson and every investigator should have two chances in my opinion. So to contrast, the next day we taught Daisy. The humility and sincerity to know the truth is so contrasting.

I have learned so much about choices and the things we choose to influence and direct our lives. Our choices to be happy and follow Christ can shed so much happiness and love in our lives. When making choices, always think what will it be like in a week, month, year after I choose this path. Keep an eternal prospective.

As for eternal prospective…Have a great wedding Derek and Rebecca! I hope everything goes well and is one of the best moments in your lives! Rebecca I am so excited to have you in our family. 🙂

Have a great week! Enjoy the snow!

Com Carinho!

Sister Janis

P.S.  As a reminder, this is the last public post of Sister Janis’ letters.  I have received several emails from those who are getting the RSS feed and would like to be on the email distribution list for her future letters.  If you haven’t already, please email me at roarkjanis@gmail.com and let me know.  If you are already receiving these letters by email from the blog, I have your email addresses and will add them to the new email distribution list.

Project Rescue

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Oi Família!

We received transfers this week and I will be staying with Sister Cortez and our area expanded to include the area of the Elders. It will be a lot work since we still have Temple Dedication References and their investigators to contact and work with. Also in both areas we are working on a project that is being done in three different missions here in Brazil.

We have a lot records that were sent back to the Church Brazilian Headquarters because the people for many years were not active. The church is always trying to find ways to recontact these people and reactivate. We have about 100 people in our ward that are inactive. Sister Cortez and I have to find and contact every one of them and if they still live there, reteach and reactivate. It is a lot of work but definitely worth it as our ward will be splitting soon because the chapel in Parque 10 will finished and the members will attend there and there will not be many families staying.  Also Elder Costa gave us a promise that for every person we reactive there will be one baptism.

As for an investigator report…I only have Jessica/Andrea which I not really sure count as investigators now…

Both of our baptisms fell through because both of them did not show up for the interviews and one powered off his phone this entire week and the other was never at home for us to talk too. So pretty much they ran from the water. Bruno was really promising so I hoping that we can contact him this coming transfer and prepare him again.

As for Jessica/Andrea, we visited this past Monday and only Jessica was home. She loved the Book of Mormon and had already read to Alma 45! in one week! She reminded me a lot of Laura because she 11 years old and loves reading. We read with her and talked about the importance of applying what we read to our lives. Later this week when we called to reconfirm our appt. because it was about to rain, she told us that she and her family were out of state and that she could not meet with us ever again. We are hoping to go back this next week to teach the first lesson a little bit more and continue with their progression.

So since we only have about two investigators and a couple of potentials that can only really meet on the weekends because of work we will be working a lot on finding more, project rescue, and working in Parque 10.

President Klein talked with Sister Cortez and said that there is a possibility that we will have a division after this week and I will stay in our area with a short term missionary and Sister Cortez will go to the other area with a different short term missionary for the rest of the transfer. It still up in the air but it would be nice to have since we are taking the omnibus almost everyday this week to work in the different areas.

Another thing this week is we have interviews with President Klein and lunch with all the zones here in Manaus.

So all in all this week will be very interesting with everything there is to do. As I am listening to the Christmas Devotional of this year, I cannot but feel grateful for the church and the opportunities we have to share the message of Christ during this time and season.

I know our Redeemer lives and that he truly watches and cares for us. I hope ya´ll have a great week preparing for Christmas and celebrating!

Love Ya´ll, Vos Amo!

Sister Janis

Working is Awesome!

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Oi Família!

This week was a pretty packed week! It was wonderful! I even did divisions with two different young women in our ward.

The Elders in our district (which included our Zone Leader) were transferred during this week, so we received their area, which is the rest of our Ward boundaries (three more neighborhoods). Because of this, Sister Cortez and I had to do divisions two different days in order to work with the investigators that had dates for baptism in the other parts and continue working with the commitments we had in ours. Here is a little information about our investigators that have the most potential:

Bruno-He is an awesome investigator! He was one of the investigators that were given to us when the Elders were transferred out of the area. They only taught him a little bit about the Book of Mormon and one of the Ward Members invited him to church and he came! He loved the ward members and he said it was like being a home and that he wanted to be baptized right then and there. Sister Cortez taught him two times in the past two days so everything is ready for his baptism this coming Saturday.

Katiane-We found her through a referral activity that the ward did. (They visited homes around the church and asked if they would like to have copy of Finding Faith in Christ.) Her grandmother was the one that wanted the DVD but she was the only one that wanted to listen. She attends Jehovah´s Witness but has not been baptized yet because of importance the decision is to her. When we began the lesson, I asked if we could have a prayer and then explain the significance of our prayers, specifically that it is a conversation with God through his son Jesus Christ and that through Jesus Christ all things were possible. At the end of the lesson she said that she really liked message and especially our manner of prayer because it was the first that she had heard that fit with her belief of prayer. We hoping that she progresses a lot in the next week and attends church and can be baptized in two weeks.

Jessica; Andrea-Andrea is the mother of Jessica. They were references from the DVD also. They are quite a dynamic duo. When we first meet them, Jessica took the DVD into her home and most have said something to Andrea about it because she ran out of the house with the DVD yelling at Jessica…Why did you buy this DVD without talking to me!… and then tried giving it back to us. After explaining that is was free and that we would like to teach them more. She smiled and said…oh its free?! I would love to have you come visit us…. Then after our first lesson with her, she said that Jessica was always fighting with her brother. I told her that if they read the Book of Mormon together that they would have peace in the home. So as we were leaving she told Jessica, I want to start reading this book now. 🙂 We are teaching them again today so it should very exciting.

Eleadi-She is going to be our most interesting investigator in the coming couple of weeks. She is studying theology and is the Instructor of the Gospel Principles class of her church. She studied our church in one of her classes and really wanted to have a Book of Mormon. One of her friends was a member but she lost contact with her before receiving one. We meet her last week while shopping for food in our favorite market place. I taught while we were doing divisions and she said that she never heard the story of Joseph Smith in a positive light before and that she was excited to try out the Book of Mormon to see if it is a word of God. I hoping that it touches her heart and she will become a firm member in the church. I am happy that I took the World Religions course before my mission at BYUI because it definitely helped connecting with her and gaining her trust.

Also this week I will be starting a class of English with a group called the Community and the friends of the members in our ward. The Community is a group of non-members that play soccer a couple times a week in the church parking lot. We are hoping to be able to teach all of them the first lesson, get their names and contact information and continue teaching them inside their homes. It should be fun but I am a little worried about what I will teach them because the ages range from 5 to 50 so a huge range of understanding. I will be using the rest of my Preparation Day to plan since I will begin teaching tomorrow.

So that is pretty much my update for this week. I am working full days and definitely feeling the Lord’s Hand in my life. This next week I will have completed 6 months of my mission. 1/3 already! It has gone by so fast and I am loving the opportunity to teach the gospel. I cannot wait to talk to ya´ll in less then a month!!!

Muito Amor!

Sister Janis