Oh man I have to tell you about the bus ride home from Joao Pessoa. So we left a 1:30 and got the next station at 5. We waited for the next bus to our house and all the buses were SUPER full. We waited for an hour, but we had to hurry cuz we had an appointment at 7 for family home evening with Neide. So we took the next available bus. FULL. We were smushed in there and were at the door barley in but the door was able to close so we drove off. But dude. There were people squashed against the windows hanging out the windows and everything! I was complexly stuck between this huge guy and this other woman behind me; I mean totally. There is no personal bubble with anybody. hahah seriously you breath out and the person next to you breathes in. I was hanging on the bar above my head for a while, but then my arm started to get tired. There was a girl next to me talking on a cell phone so I just rested my arm on her other shoulder hahhahah she didn’t even notice with all that was going on. we were standing up for 2 hours and we had a couple bags and a small suit case. Some people were really nice and held our stuff for us and then more people came on the bus. It got the point I was practically sitting on the woman’s lap. Oh man, the buses in brasil haha.

I started thinking of all the prophets, Abinadi, Ammon, Amoron, and and how they were missionaries.. I was thinking, ya know, if the church is true then prophets in the book of Mormon are real because they had the power of God. God called them to teach the Gospel. They had the power and authority to accomplish all that God had commanded them too. And if the gospel is true and I am a missionary called of God then I have the same power and authority to accomplish all that God has commanded me too as well. They were missionaries that blessed and taught many people, and they had toooonnnnnsss of faith never doubting. They also gave everything. I remember the scripture 1 Nephi 3:7 The Lord won’t give his children a commandment unless there is a way to accomplish it. Well the best way is the Lords way! Keeping the commandments is a great start. In Alma chapter 8 he teaches so many people and many are baptized; then he goes to the next city and the people reject him and kick him out of the city. Alma is sad and goes on the next city, but when he prays to God, God says. Lift up your head and rejoice! Because you have kept the commandments! And then he commands him to go back. And so he does :)

So 2 weeks ago we had Pday for the sisters! All the sisters in the mission, 14 at that time.  All got together in Joao Pessoa and went fishing! It was sooo fun and Sister Dias caught a five pounder. I caught nothing! I would sit there with my sweet bamboo pole and we put some fruit thing on the hook and cast it into the water. Then those freaky fish would swim up steal the food and get away! Without me even realizing it! Then I almost caught one and I was fighting with it but it got away... with the fruit too. Darn fish. It was really cool though to fish in the amazon and then we ate them afterwords. We hiked up the hill it was gorgeous. The next day we had to take the bus home. We started our journey at 1:30. We basically had the whole bus to ourselves. 5 people I think. So sis Dias and I each got our own bench and took a nice nap. I woke up about halfway through and looked out the window it was beautiful. You could see so far and it was so green and tropical. Amazon and fields with the sun setting. I reminded me of the movie the Testaments when Jesus Christ comes to visit the Americas. During the movie the prophet Amoron is preaching by the waters of Mormon and they are in the forest. That is what it reminded me of.

A lot has happened the past few weeks. First thing is we had another baptism! Wiliane is her name and she was golden! I meet her 3 weeks ago and she was sooo excited to meet with us. She found out that we were teaching English classes and wanted to learn. Well we showed up to her house to teach her a little more :) She has been researching religions all her life and was soo thrilled to learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day saints. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and that she could read it and pray to God and ask him if it was true. So she did! She got her answer and was thrilled when we asked her to be baptized. She loves the scriptures and is reading the book of Mormon in Portuguese and in English too as well as Gospel principle manual. She can’t get enough of it! Last Sunday she was confirmed in church with the gift of the Holy Ghost and it was so neat she is so happy to be a member of the church.
The day before her baptism was really neat too, we were walking from her house to the church and she was continuing asking questions, she doesn’t know everything about the gospel, but she got an answer from God so she was going to do what he wanted. I think of Abraham, when God asked him to sacrifice Jacob, he didn’t know why and it didn’t even make sense, but he obeyed and had so much faith. Wiliane hadn’t even seen a picture of the prophet Thomas S. Monson, but she had a testimony that he is real prophet. That night after the interview we had to fill the baptismal font by hand with buckets cuz the piping wasn’t working. What a work out! I can’t imagine all the people that have to get their water from a well! It took about an hour and a half to fill it half way but it was so worth it the next day seeing the smile on wilianes face and the joy she had.

They have soccer fields everywhere, and we are working so I cant play! :( We were in front of Caroles house and, no joke, the ball comes sailing to me. i think it was a blessing :) I kicked it back and dang it felt so good to just touch it even for a moment. It is the raining season now and so we are learning we have to bring our umbrella quite often. We got caught in the rain twice in the past week (after we had straightened our hair... sad) but we did have some fun out there but its pretty hot so it feels good.  Had to use the bathroom by candlelight once this week. Went to "the Centro" for shopping and was fun but the bus ride back I didn't feel so good. Luckily we got back before I felt to sick. We did get to see the beach on the way though. AND sooooo gorgeous!!!!!!! There is nothing like it!  We drove over a huger bridge overlooking the ocean and the city it was so pretty.

[ see pictures of Natal at the bottom of this post ]

We walk a ton, I have no idea how much - at the very least 10 miles a day.  I eat a ton.  I think I get served cake or "bolo" like 2 to 3 times a day, but I'm still a good 57 kilos (125lbs) and staying healthy.

Being a missionary is awesome and so fulfilling too.  I did learn something pretty cool this week in Moroni 7:46 it talks about Charity being the pure love of Christ and how Charity "never fails" . The next verse says that whoso possesses this at the last day "it shall be well with him". I read this scripture for a spiritual message to a member after they had served us lunch and I guess being a missionary I understood it different. If it want to be a successful missionary I need to have the pure love of Christ, Charity first, before everything else. Better than knowing all the lessons, scriptures by heart and speaking the language. Charity is the base and everything else should be built upon it, not just for missionaries but for everyone in all the things we do. Because it never fails! How sweet is that!? In the Portuguese scriptures it says tudo estara bem :) for some reason it has a little different meaning in the Portuguese language. It hits more home. Maybe because people use tudo bem every time they greet you.  It means "all is well".

Sister Richardson

The city of Natal Brazil. Almost same population as Austin, Texas.
Laurens first area is on the far north of the city - on the far side of this picture.
(see map on blog to see the area of the city she's working in or click here to see a green pinpoint of her area on google maps)

Panorama of the most famous beach in Natal and some say all of Brazil. This is probably the one Lauren was talking about.

These are solid sand - not dirt hills with sand on top. Much of Natal is sitting on solid sand dunes. All the beaches are banked by sand dunes like these.

More of the Natal Beaches. "Morro do Careca" (bald hill) - the dune in the distance that looks like a slide... well it was A SLIDE!  A 360 foot SAND slide. People used to slide down it on "skibundas". But naturalists were successful at getting is closed in the late 90's. No more sliding or even walking up there anymore.

The Navarro Bridge in Natal. The biggest suspension bridge in all of Brazil. Two years old, one mile long. Lauren talks about this in her letter. Newton Navarro was a famous artist from Natal. No wonder Lauren likes this bridge so much. They're going to build a round suspending restaurant below the center of the bridge.
(Click here for a cool 360 view)

Natal at sunset.

Lauren's address is now on the blog.  Please write her!

First baptism!! Gabriele got baptized this Sunday!! Her mom was baptized a few weeks ago. Gabi is 10 years old and was catholic. Her dad is catholic and mom just got baptized. We have been teaching her for a couple weeks and on Monday we were teaching her the 10 commandments. She stopped us in the middle of the lesson and asked how many lessons till she can get baptized. Then she said "I want to get baptized!" It was such a neat experience because her dad is catholic and mom a member of our church only 3 weeks now. But the mom, Neide wanted Gabbi to choose for herself. For a while she was attending both churches with her mom and the catholic church with uncles aunts friends and dad. It was a big decision in her life but she read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it too. She read the marked passages twice and was so happy to be baptized! But man! it was an hour till the baptism everything was ready only when we went to fill the font, no water!! and no baptismal clothes! Finally we got a hold of the other church building nearby and practically the whole ward, in 3 cars, drove over there. We had 9 of us in a golf; 8 and a baby, but you could count adrenalin for 2 so really 10 people!! haha The service was beautiful. I got lots of pics and they are being sent next week.

Well this week I got stung by a bee! My first time! didn't even know till another sister pointed it out and sister Dias had to pull out the stinger. Tudo bem tudo bem. Had my first sugar cane out in front of Caroles house it was pretty sweet.

We now have Lauren's address. Please write to her!
This address is for BOTH letters and packages:

Sister Lauren Richardson
Missao Brasil / Joao Pessoa
Rua Dep. Jose Mariz, 515
Tambauzinho – CEP 58042-020
Joao Pessoa - Paraibe

Mail in Brazil is fairly fast if you send it priority mail.  Lauren says "don't send FEDEX, DHL, UPS, etc, (I will have to pay sometimes 100s of dollars to get it out of customs.) The best way to send it is priority mail or international. You can get the envelope at us post office. You have to disguise things if its of value."