Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Latter-day Saint Women Around the World: Isa from Brazil

Today's guest post is from Isa from Sorocaba, Brazil, a city of about 630, 000 people about 50 minutes outside São Paulo. I loved reading Isa's responses, she just bubbles enthusiasm for life and the gospel. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do. The questions I asked are in bold print and her responses are given below.

Hello, I'm Isadora. I will turn 20 years old in November and I'm currently dating. I'm from Brazil but I spend my vacations always in the US, to visit my boyfriend Jake. I'm a very outgoing person and just love to meet new people and cultures.

1. What is the dominate belief system in your country? Do most people consider themselves to be "religious"? Are business and stores closed on Sunday? Do most people attend church?

Well, in Brazil we have a lot of different religions. Most of them consider themselves Christians or Catholics. We also have the "spiritism" religion. But the majority are Christian. We have a religion here called "Christian Congregation of Brazil", and its very different. It is very rare to see stores closed on Sundays, but on Saturdays it is more common because the Adventist religion make Saturday as our Sunday, where they stay with their families, read the bible and do good things. Yes, most people attend to churches here, but not all of them are open only on Sundays. There are churches open everyday of the week, any time.

2. How long have you been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? If you are a convert please tell us a little about your conversion. If you were born in the church tell us a bit about your family and who was the first in your family to join the church.

I've been a member of the church for a few years. I met the church when I was 7 years old when my mom decided to find a good place to go. My mom's parents always taught their children the Presbyterian beliefs, but since they're no longer on this earth, each daughter found a place to go by herself. My mom, on a Sunday morning, found the LDS church very close where we used to live at that time so she asked a sister from the ward: "Do you think I'm allowed to park here and watch the reunion?". That was how everything started. She truly loved the church and got baptized. As soon as I turned 8 years old, I did too.

My dad is not member of the church yet, he has no religion. He likes the church but says that he,"didn't feel he should start going yet..." . I know Lord has prepared wonderful opportunities for him to see what the Gospel looks like and what a big family we all are in the church. I'm just waiting for the right time to let things happen, so I won't push anything and let the Holy Spirit tell him things that will open his eyes and heart. Recently, my boyfriend (who lives in Ransomville, New York) got baptized too. It truly made my life easier and full of peace. He is going to a singles branch one hour from his house and completely enjoying it. Now he understands more the power of the scriptures (we read together through Skype), he knows how sacred and important the Temple is, and we both have the same goals now. It is wonderful to see how big the changes are when someone really lets Jesus' light shine on them. And just so you know, even my dad was happy for him!

3. What is the LDS church attendance like in your area? How many stakes, wards, or branches are there in your area? On an average Sunday how many members attend church? Do people have to travel far to attend church? What are the demographics of your ward? Are most members young, old, married, single, are there more women then men? Or it is it a good balance?

My ward is not so big. We have a 70-90 people frequency every Sunday, sometimes more, sometimes less. In my city, we have 4 stakes and lots of wards and branches. Luckily we don't have to travel far to attend church, but some far away branches have a big walk to meet at the closest church. Members of my ward are mostly families with kids or just-married couples. There are way more women then men, for sure. Our relief society has around 60% of all people in the ward.

4. How far away is the nearest temple? When was it built? How busy is it? Do most people in your country know about it? What are their feelings about it?

We have two temples very close to us: São Paulo temple and Campinas temple. Our ward always goes to Campinas temple, which is around 50 minutes from where we live. This temple was dedicated on May 17th, 2002. I still remember how excited everyone was to do the ordinances there for the first time. My ward has a special love for the Temple and every talk on Sunday at least one person talks about it, its importance, and also about genealogy.

5. What sort of reaction do you get from most people when they find out you are Mormon? Are people familiar with the church? Do you often have to defend or explain your beliefs?

Their answers are mostly, "Oh, thats why you don't do this, this and this?" hahah..

Anyways, some are very familiar with the church and some aren't. Its incredible how always after saying I'm a Mormon I have a few questions to make clear and explain. People still think we practice polygamy! Things should be more clear to them, so let's do it. I always try to tell them how happy and together people at church are, and they are always very curious about it. They always complete the sentence with, "Well, I heard you Mormons love spending time with your families and you also go on a mission." Also, some don't understand why young people go on a mission. For them it is a waste of time and money. Unfortunately, a few people here should be more "open" to religious diversity. Respect and love is the foundation for everything! As a Primary teacher, w
e recently had our special presentation during the sacrament meeting and the kids were talking about the temple and the scriptures. Something so funny and also lovely, is that they already have the Temple as their "marriage place". A few weeks ago, a cute brunette five-year-old boy came up to one of the little girls from my class and asked, "Will you be my eternal companion? Because you know, we must marry in the Temple" And it just made my day.

How is missionary work in your country? Would you say that it is difficult or easy for missionaries to find people to teach? How often do you have a new baptism? What are the greatest barriers to missionary work in your country?

Missionary work is great! Mainly in the North of Brazil, where conditions are harder and they're constantly needing some help. They are lovely and so receptive. In the South it is a little harder, they are not so open but still very polite people. I guess you've heard about how Brazilians are friendly and happy all the time, and that is true. This is a bonus for the missionaries. Some people are hard to teach, and some are not. You can see a whole family getting baptized or even only one person going to church every Sunday by himself. Our ward is currently "saying goodbye" to a few people. Some are going to study in other towns, people are getting married and others are going to serve a mission but we have constant baptisms, mainly for kids who just turned eight. I am a Valients teacher and I always see in Primary how kids get excited and kind of make a "competition" of who gets baptized first. Cute!

7. How many families do you know (LDS or not) who have more than two children? If a family with four children moved to your area, would their family size seem unusual? What about a family with six children?

Well, a few them do. Our ex-bishop had 9 children (well, most of them are married now) and the last one was adopted. So the total is 10. This is the biggest I've ever seen in the ward (kind of hard to compete compared to this number, I guess!!) Our average is always around 2-3 kids per family. I am a single daughter, but I plan to have at least two kids.

8. How many sisters do you visit teach? Do you have to travel far to reach them? What have been some of your best visiting teaching experiences?

Me and my mom (my visiting teacher companion) are set up to visit two ladies from our church. It is not far at all, they live in our neighborhood. Every time we visit teach we cherish even more our lives and notice how blessed we are. Sometimes we complain about something so small and then we hear other people's stories and we just want to cave a hole in the ground and put ourselves inside and hide there forever, from too much shame. I am thankful, so thankful for everything I have. Life in Brazil is not easy, but we are blessed that in our region and area we have everything we need - electric energy, pure water, food, and a warm and safe home to sleep. Some people don't, and every time we lay our heads down on the pillow at night to sleep we always remember those ones who don't have all the comfort and things we do have. This is a big lesson that I have learned for myself.

9. What are the greatest challenges the sisters in your Relief Society are facing?

Actually our Relief Society president just moved out, so I guess we will have some changes around here. She is going to a small branch in another city and I'm sure the next president will have a good opportunity to keep doing some work with all the ladies. We have a few women (including my mom) who don't have their husbands with them, so we are working hard on families recently, and also marriage for the ones who just got into the Relief Society. I stay in the Primary with the kids during the Relief Society meeting, and I miss those ladies. But I'm sure I'm doing a good work with the little ones and preparing them to be good sisters of the Relief Society in the future.

What is the greatest blessing that the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought into your life?

For sure the opportunity of being sealed to our families for eternity and the chance we have to get married in the Temple for all time. I'm lucky to have those goals in my life and I'm sure I'll make them happen someday. Another great blessing that the gospel has brought to my life is that we can truly be good examples for people if we want to and for me, it works for my father. You, that have a full and complete family at church every Sunday, be thankful for that! You may not notice your dad sometimes sitting next to you, or don't even give him a kiss on the cheek in the church hallway because you are "used" to see him around there. But next time, remember me and do it. Tell him how grateful you are to have a priesthood holder in your home, that can pray for you when you're sick or even advise you with the power of the Holy Ghost when you need it. This is one of the biggest blessings someone can have in their home - and that is what I want for my kids one day, for sure. I'm so thankful and happy to be a Mormon and have an eternal family!

Thank you so much Isa. Your testimony is beautiful. And I will for sure give my dad a kiss on the cheek next time I see him!


  1. ah, que linda minha isa! nossa estou com saudaaddeesss para a ala de sorocaba :( as suas respostas foram perfeitas! voce foi a melhor amiga pra mim no brasil, e todos os dias fico com saudades.... ta- vou te mandar um email :) beijos.

  2. What a beautiful testimony Isa! I love being able to feel just how excited about the Gospel you are. Thank you for sharing your joy.

  3. Love the post, Isa! (That's my mom's name). We have a young man in our ward who will be heading your way next February. He was called to serve in Campinas!