Don’t Worry, I’m Alive!

So I´m in a new area! It´s a city called Juquitiba which is totally outside the city of São Paulo (it´s pronounced Zhoo-kee-CHEE-buh). It´s very green, very rainy, and muddy. To walk from one end of our area to another would probably take 3 or 4 hours, so we take microônibus, which are Sprinter vans with lots of seats inside.

I don´t miss the city. It smells, there´s trash everywhere, and tons of AWFUL music on every street. This area is DEFINITELY not as rich as the last one, but it´s more tranquil here.

My companion is Sister Rigel, and she´s from Idaho. She´s already been in this area for almost 6 months, so she´ll be heading out soon. she´s funny and easy to get along with. She´s another blonde! She´s a very firm missionary, and doesn´t take any nonsense from investigators. However, she doesn´t like dropping investigators. So there´s quite a few people that have stuck around not progressing for a long time, that in my opinion we should stop teaching, but oh well.
The bairros (neighborhoods) are really separated here so it´s hard to work all of our area in one day. I imagine this is more like what it would be like to serve in the US, except we´re on foot.

We´re teaching a couple great people, one of whom is working really hard to stop drinking, so we´ll see how it goes with getting people ready for baptism. There are a lot of great people here I think, it´s just hard because we have to walk through the forest and up hills to get to them.
Here it´s just a branch, but we´re getting very close to the number we need to become a ward. The branch president is amazing. He really is a selfless man. I really like the people so far.
Don´t worry, I´m wearing plenty of bug spray. Although the people here claim that dengue doesn´t exist in Juquitiba. You asked about Zika but honestly nobody talks about that here.
I think I´m probably gonna be here for a while. It´s way different here than in my last area and the strategies are gonna be completely different to work this area to its potential, but  I´m excited!
I live with just my companion, which is different and kind of lonely, but it also means the house has more space and is a lot more organized. We live in the center of town, so all the stores and everything are really close.
It takes 3 hours to get to the main part of the mission. My legs are gonna take some time to get used to all this.

Sister West

22 Feb. 2016

India ZOna Pirangua

Hi Everyone!

Last week it was raining really hard, and a lady came and knocked on our door and said “there´s an animal here, but I have to leave, can you guys take care of it?” And there in our lobby was a cockatiel on the ground. So I picked him up and took care of him for a while, and we gave him to our neighbor. (Did you know I LOVE birds? I do!)
India's Cockatiel
Also the power in the neighborhood went out all that day and we had to go teach people in the dark. Fun!
My feet and legs have been feeling lots better. The new shoes I got are helping but I think they’re finally just getting used to being used so much. And the Lord is blessing us too.

So a member brought her friend to church a couple of weeks ago. He liked church so much that the next week he came by himself and brought a friend. So we taught him the first lesson on Wednesday and he accepted the challenge to be baptized on the 5th of March, saying he really wanted to be baptized. Then we were talking to our district leader and thinking about this guy, and praying, and we decided to ask him to be baptized this Sunday.

So the next day we went to teach him, and the lesson started out rough, like he had tons of weird questions about speaking in tongues and he was arguing with us about the Fall of Adam and Eve, but then we started teaching him about the Gospel of Christ, and repentance. And the Spirit was so strong, and the way the lesson went led perfectly to
the invitation to be baptized. We talked about how he already went to church, liked it a lot, and we knew he was ready to repent and enter God´s fold. Then I said “We, as representatives of Jesus Christ, have the ability to teach people and know when they´re ready to start on this path. So, we want to invite you to be baptized this Sunday.” Complete silence. Then he started crying. It was like, boom, the Spirit just hit him. “Antonio, will you be baptized this Sunday?” And he said “I will.” Then he kept crying. After a couple of seconds, he bowed his head and started saying a prayer, super powerful, saying he would do whatever God asked him to. Then at that point we were all
crying, and it was just amazing. We did it. We followed the Spirit, and were bold. And it paid off. We ended this transfer with a baptism. It really is God that does all this work. We are supposed to just be his mouthpiece. It´s really remarkable. This work is amazing. I love being a missionary.

India Knighton Antonio

Also, almost everyone in my zone is getting whitewashed. That means they´re transferring both members of a companionship at the same time and putting brand-new missionaries. This almost NEVER happens. The assistents to the president called last night and told Sister K. she was getting transferred, and then said “We´ll call Sister
Westenhaver later.” So I thought, great, I´m gonna stay here and train. But then they called and said “Sister Westenhaver you´re being transferred.” And we almost didn´t believe it.
So tomorrow our area is getting 2 new sisters and I will be going….To Juquitiba!!! All I know about this place is that it´s the most rural area of our mission, and it takes about 3 hours to get to meetings at the mission office. So thanks for the bird field guide,
Mom, it´ll definitely come in handy. We´ll see how this goes! Sister K. and I will stay in the same zone, so that´s fun! Also my new companion is ALSO American, which I can´t believe. Stay tuned to know how I´m doing out in the boonies next week.
Apparently people who pass through this area love it!!
I thought you’d like to see the pizza we had this week, It’s half cheese (they put green olives on it too, which I always take off) and half chocolate sauce with m&m’s. The entire crust is stuffed with chocolate sauce, too, so you get dessert built in to your pizza. It’s totally delicious!
India Knighton Pizza
This picture below is with me and my companion, Sister K. Also the two other missionaries who live in our apartment, Sister O.and Sister L. They’re very sweet and funny. If you notice, I’m the tallest person in this picture which is pretty funny since I’m only 5’5. People here always tell me I’m tall. Never had that happen before! Yes, I’m getting pretty tan, too. Everyone is the ward says “Nossa, você está ficando morena!” Which means “Dang you´re really tan now.”
India Fellow missionaries

Muito amor,

Sister Westenhaver

15 February, 2016

 DSCN0441
This week was HOT. I shouldn´t start every email like that, but it really was hot. I don´t think an hour passes that I´m not sweaty. The problem here is that we´re in the city and there´s no wind. We´re surrounded by concrete, so it´s kind of like we´re just inside an
oven. I sent a picture of what our area looks like. Other than that, we had a multi-zone conference and I came away feeling super motivated to talk to literally everyone in the street and be super bold and everything. We ate lunch at the meeting, it was all great.
Then, the next day, and over the weekend, I, along with at least 40 other missionaries, got sick from food poisoning or something. Basically half our mission was incapacitated. Yikes. But it´s okay, I´m all better now. I´m just all kinds of sick here. Haha.

But yeah, we´re continuing to work with our awesome married couple, but we´ve had to drop A LOT of uncommitted people this week. We had a great integration activity this weekend, and one member brought a coworker, Rosa, who we taught yesterday, and who accepted a baptismal date. Also, a man that came to church last week came again this week, and brought a friend with him! A friend who has EIGHT kids. Wow, we´re gonna jump on teaching him. It´s much better to baptize families! Families are eternal!
India Sergio Michelle
We´ve got some good prospects, but of course I´ll probably get transferred this coming week… Who knows.
We ate some great churrasco yesterday with this awesome family in our ward, who have a daughter, Leticia, who is putting in her papers any day now (i’ll include a picture of her). I love the members here. They´re so kind, funny, and strong in the Gospel. The church really is the same wherever you go. People are great.
DSCN0443
I want to bare you my testimony in Portuguese even though most of you won´t understand. Eu sei que Joseph Smith foi um profeta de Deus, e por meio dele a
igreja de Jesus Cristo foi restaurado aqui na Terra. Eu sei que nós temos um profeta hoje, que se chama Thomas S. Monson. Eu sei que Jesus Cristo é nosso Salvador, e que Ele vive. Eu sei que Deus nos conhece e nos ama. Eu sei que se nós seguimos o plano de Deus, nos possamos viver com nossas famílias na presença Dele para sempre. Eu digo estas coisas em nome de Jesus Cristo, Amem. 

Muito amor,

Sister Westenhaver

8 February, 2016

Hello everyone! I hope all is well.

Here, I am still dying of heat. That probably won´t change soon. Also
this week is Carnaval. But no one here does anything so we´ll be doing
work as normal. But don´t worry, I´ll stay out of the sketchier parts
of my area after dark.

I love my companion, Sister Knighton! She´s hilarious and we probably
spend a little too much time speaking English, but oh well. And she´s
going to BYU after she goes home in May, so we´ll be able to keep in
touch.
This week´s work was hard. We ran around trying to catch up with
everything, and it was a little chaotic, because I got a cold in the
middle of the week and was coughing up a storm. But I´m all better
now. Mostly.
I tell you what though. Saturday is so hard. We run around confirming
people for church and teaching them that SOMETHING will happen that
night or Sunday morning to keep them from going to church, and to
remember that they can resist, and that they should go anyways. Then
they say “No, I´ll go for sure.” And we say “Are you a man of your
word” And they´re like “YEAH” and then… they don´t go to church
anyways. It´s SO SAD. Like, just go… You won´t regret it. You´ll
love it!
But it´s all good. I´m working on my patience and positive attitude.
Oh I forgot. There´s this little 8-year-old who always goes to church
alone, so we were teaching him one day about prayer. And we said “And
you can ask God for whatever things you need to what you want.” And
then he said “A bicycle!” And I was just like “Sure…” But now he has
a bike! And he seriously rides it for hours every day.
We´ve got some great investigators who we´re working with. This one
guy, knowing we´re Americans, bought what he thought was peanut butter
for us. It was, but it´s totally different than American peanut
butter.
Also I seriously love rice and beans now. It´s just so versatile, and
yummy. People just pile it on their plates here, and mix it with
everything, meat, fried mandioca, salad. Just eat it all mixed. It´s
actually great.
Well that´s all for now.
“And this is the account of Ammon and his brethren, their journeyings
in the land of Nephi, their sufferings in the land, their sorrows, and
their afflictions, and their incomprehensible joy…” (Alma 28:8)
that basically sums up a mission.

Love,

Sister West

28 December 2015

This week was just downright weird. It was very hard to find people at home, and both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we had to go home by 6pm, because people like to drink and set off fireworks in the street. Like if I didn´t wear earplugs every night i would have had trouble sleeping.

But Tuesday we had mission Christmas! We had a talent show. I did a thing! It´s hard to explain, but basically I can play music with my teeth. Everyone tap on your front tooth with your index fingernail. Notice that there is a pitch. I somehow learned to change that pitch, so I played “Called to Serve” and everyone thought it was awesome.

There were also zones who “sung” and some other stuff that I forgot. (I say “sung” in quotation marks because not many Brazilians have a good sense of pitch or can read music. That´s what happens when schools don´t teach music.) But then we watched the First Presidency devotional. The music was on point! I love “In the Bleak Midwinter”! And we ate lunch” churrasco (bbque), salad, rice and beans, the usual. And we had brownies and ice cream for dessert!! YESSS. But then we had some more talks and music and stuff. It was great!

Christmas Eve was uneventful. I made a cake once we went home, and opened my presents. Thanks Mom!! Here that´s when they open them.
Christmas Day we went and sung Christmas carols at a bus terminal! It was great! But because I´m not accustomed to singing for long periods of time anymore I almost lost my voice. We had lunch with some great members, who kept insisting we eat more! Then we called our families from our ward mission leader´s home, but turns out his internet wasn´t really powerful enough so I had to turn the camera off, and just talk like on the phone. That was a bummer. But it was so nice to talk to everyone. I even got to talk to York in Portuguese and impress my family! Haha.
So the reason why Christmas is so important is that we have a chance to remember the Savior´s birth, but the more significant part of his life came after. He really did pay the price for all of our sins. He felt every pain, shame, sadness, and awful thing we´ve ever felt. He paid the price for justice so that we don´t have to suffer eternal consequences for our sins if we will just repent! He already paid; it´s covered. All you have to do it repent! It´s often easier said than done, but I invite all of you, if there´s anything bugging you, take care of it. Talk to your father in Heaven, and He´ll help you resolve it. This will be a new year! Start fresh.
I love Jesus Christ. He is truly the Redeemer of the World.
Love,
Sister West
P.S. You know you´re a broke missionary when you´re using paperclips as clothespins. Haha

The Week I Almost Got A Rabies Shot

So first I will address the title of this because I don´t want anyone freaking out. Yes, a dog bit me on Friday. I´ve seen this dog before on the streets many times. But he wears a collar and I know where he lives. So he was sitting by an investigator. And since I´m still used to dogs who behave well, I without thinking reach out to pet the dog. He doesn´t give any signs that he´s angry. And so then he bites me. Just a TINY little bite on my hand. And I go and wash it. But then I told my district leader who told me to call the Secretary of Health. He said I´d be fine but if it got worse to call again. But then Sister Dalton told the Secretary to tell me to go to the hospital to get it looked at. So Sunday after church we went to the hospital and waited for an hour and a half. The verdict was since there were no signs of infection and it had already been 2 days, I didn´t need any vaccines. Just a couple of prescriptions. WHEW. Anyone who knows me knows that I detest anything having to do with needles. So yeah I´m all good.

This week I got a new companion! She´s from Buenos Aires, Argentina, so I´m gonna try learning some Spanish. She loves training new missionaries, and working hard, so this week was great! I honestly have never been happier on my mission. I feel more comfortable talking, and although I kind of have to plan everything (since she doesn´t know the area yet) it was a great week. I felt like every day I really gave it all I had, which is the primary indicator that you´re being a successful missionary. She´s a very humble person and the first thing she said to me when we arrived at home after grocery shopping: “I only have one rule: what´s mine is yours.” That really took me aback; clearly I´ve got a lot to learn here. It´s a different thing when you both buy food but you cook stuff together and share everything. It´s nice!
So we had 3 investigators in the chapel yesterday, which is a great improvement. Viviane wasn´t there (she´s losing her interest) but her friend Laila was! She´s got a lot to learn still but she liked Young Women´s and Sacrament meeting a lot. She´s pretty great!
Also the bishop called me Saturday night and asked me to give a 10-minute talk in Sacrament about how members can get involved in missionary work. With our new mission standard of 20 lessons with a member present per week, I was happy to talk about that! Wasn´t excited to talk in Portuguese, but whatever. I can´t keep being embarrassed about the fact that I´m not fluent. After Sacrament we arranged to have a member with us almost every day! Hallelujah.
I honestly don´t even have a lot to say today because this week was kind of a blur. But I hope everybody has a great Christmas! I love you all! Don´t forget to just think about the real purpose of the holiday. That 2015 years ago the SAvior of the world was born. Just think of him, the most perfect little baby ever to exist, and how no one knew exactly the gravity of the situation. He lived and died for all of us! He felt every pain you´ve ever felt, and he knows you. He would have done the Atonement all over again if that would ensure that you individually would be able to live with God again! And guess what, we can!! We can repent and be clean through His sacrifice. You can choose to follow Him and he will lead you in the path of eternal life. I know he lives and he truly is our Redeemer.
Tchau, e Bom Natal!
Sister Westenhaver