Monday, August 21, 2017

A Sister Missionary Masterpiece

 Change of plans: I am actually still in Cachoeira Paulista. Tomorrow after lunch I will leave to Sao Jose dos Campos to meet President there to be interviewed, then I will stay the night with the sisters of JARDIM SATELITE!  I hope I can say goodbye to Ana Maria before I go ♥  Then Wednesday morning I get on another bus to the capital and then I get on a PLANE and then I FLY OUT OF BRAZIL. WOAH! Yeah, "a ficha nao caiu ainda," which literally means the file hasn't fallen yet, or it hasn't hit me yet... I am actually finishing my mission! I think the best way to end this blog is to share all of the things the Lord has allowed me to learn during my year and a half of service.

What I Have Learned on My Mission:
1. "It's not about you, it for the people who are blessed by what you're doing!"

2. That families are eternal, and that is the greatest gift God has given us. I have especially been able to see my mother through Heavenly Father's eyes as the angel she is. My only goal now is to one day become like her. 
Surprise VIVA BRASIL lunch for me!
 3. I have been able to see the wisdom of my father and the intense love he has for me, for a life filled with sacrifice in service of his family and others. He totally understands that "it's not about him."

4. How much I love and cherish my brother and sisters.

5. I love the Book of Mormon with my whole soul. It is truly a sacred testament that Jesus is the Christ, and I can testify along with Joseph Smith that we can grow closer to God through the Book of Mormon than any other book. The Book of Mormon was not revealed to man in our day to replace the Bible, but to stand beside it as a powerful testimony that He lives and that He is the Savior of the world. From the MTC, my eyes were opened and I could read the stories therein and FEAST on the scriptures. I have seen this precious book change lives. I have seen it free people of addictions, depression, confusion and doubt, and bring them know to Christ. If anyone has not read the Book of Mormon and asked God if it is true, I invite all to do so, that they might be changed/ blessed.

6. I learned about PRIDE. That word has been a bolded theme for my entire mission. It was chilling to have my eyes opened to see how much the natural man controlled me, and for my entire mission I have fought to overcome it and uproot it from my heart. It is not an easy thing, and I know I will continue to do this for the rest of my life. Yet I delight in it! I know that that is why I am here! To overcome pride and the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Mosiah 3:19.

7. How to live with another person! This one has a lot to do with the previous point. As a missionary, you literally have to be within sight and sound of your companion 24/7, only exceptions are when they are in the bathroom or we are on divisions with another companionship. As you can see, this provides many opportunities to grow! To be honest, I thought I was the easiest person to live with, but I realized this is not true. :) I learned that "charity never faileth" is my motto. Making a point is never more important than a person to be loved. Although this was probably one of the hardest aspects of my mission, I know it is one of the areas in which I have most grown.

8. I no longer fear man. Before my mission, I was sheepish when it came to saying what needs to be said. I now have become a "defender of the absent," like Sister Jaggi. It also seems that I do not have a comfort zone. As a missionary, I am fearless. I hope "Ava" will be able to take this lesson to college with her. :)

9. The Miracle of Sacrifice. I truly believe if you want to be happy, you need to sacrifice. You need to work. I remember my mom sent me Sam Jaspers' last email and said something to the effect of "I came on a mission to pay back a little part of the debt I have with my Savior. However, in so doing I am now in even greater debt due to the innumerable blessings I have received through my service." That is the miracle of sacrifice, that when we give up our time, talents, comforts, energy, the Lord opens the windows of heavens and we are even more blessed. Many people have said to me during my mission "promise me that you will never go inactive after your mission. You think you never will, but even the strongest people fall away." What I have learned is that the people who fall away are those who think "I just gave a year and a half of my life to the Lord, now I can rest. Now it is me time." They stop doing the small habits they gained on the mission, such as daily scripture study, frequent fasting and paying of fast offerings, kneeling to pray every morning and night, staying for all three hours of church. I know if I want the Spirit and the light I have gained on my mission to stay with me, I will have to keep doing the same things! I will have to keep sacrificing! The Lord will continue to give me promptings, I am sure of it. I know He expects to continue using me as an instrument for much good.

10. How the Spirit speaks to me. I have become really good at recognizing promptings and courageously acting. You wanna know a secret? Every time you think "I should do that" and it is good, it is the Spirit truly speaking to you, just like Elder Bednar says!

11. How dangerous technology is. I have not had a phone or tablet or computer for a year and a half, and I really have had my eyes open to how addicted EVERYONE is to their screens. Its frightening, truthfully. Teenagers, moms, dads, toddlers, stake presidents, EVERYONE is just as susceptible to becoming addicted. It is the first place people go when they feel bored, sad, uncomfortable, lonely, or upset. The scariest part is looking back on my pre-mission life and seeing I was just as addicted as everyone else! President gave us some wonderful counsel that I think everyone should follow. He said "Technology is a wonderful resource, but it must be used within set limits. Enter, accomplish your purpose, and then exit out." It is really just that simple. I know that media with crude humor, violence, or sexual content drives away the Spirit faster than anything. What is accepted today as normal (even in books, on the radio, or news channels) is a way Satan can control us while we are within the walls of our own homes.

12. How to love my body. It isn't really a secret than I have gained a few pounds on the mission (tee hee) but if anything I have grown to love the way I look more than anything else! I cared TOO MUCH about what I ate and how much I was working out, and how looked before. Now, I will simply take care of my body by eating healthy foods and work out everyday like I love to, and let the rest take care of myself. As long as I am living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of myself, what appears in the mirror is perfect. During the mission it has been hard to take as good of care of myself as I want to because we are at the mercy of what the irmas feed us everyday (white rice, fried meat, and dessert everyday) and have very limited time to exercise, but now I can take complete responsibility of my alimentation and exercise. :) Woohoo! That is something I am looking forward to.

Sorry, this is really long and I will now end, but I would just like to close with the greatest gift/lesson I have been given on my mission: Conversion to the Lord. I know He lives and loves me. I know He was with me and my companions every single day of my mission as we did what He would do were he still present on earth in the flesh: preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring more souls unto Him. He is my best friend. Oh, how grateful I am for His infinite love for us. I know Joseph Smith restored the Christ's church and the fullness of His gospel. I know Thomas Monson is His mouthpiece and representative today. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth today. I will continue to sing it from the rooftops!
I love you all and I love my Savior!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Cusp of Something Wonderful!

On Top of the World!
I can't believe this is the 2nd to last letter I will write as a Sister Missionary. Ever since I heard I would come to this area, I have been wondering why the Lord decided I should finish my last 6 months here. Now that we are almost at the end, I see I was just a small part in a BIG PLAN.
Offering Service Cards
Cachoeira Paulista has been a branch for 25 years. The church bought a plot of land and has just been waiting for the branch to meet the requirements so that they can become a ward. President, Sister Malan, and I feel like we are on the cusp of something wonderful. So here is why I think I came to Cachoeira:

1. To find Fernanda and her family! I have no doubt that their family will play an important part in this growth that will begin shortly. I love them so much and it has been a tender mercy to meet them and bring the gospel to them. Fernanda still wants her "answer," but we know she already knows this is all true, she just doesn't realize she does yet. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be here for the baptism because the rest of her family hasn't gone to church enough times to be baptized, and we really feel like they need to do this as a family. They are all as elect and excited as she is!

Feste Agostina
2. To meet Edna and her girls! She is marked for September 2nd. She could be baptized this Sunday, but she will just have gotten her stitches from the surgery out and hasn't been allowed to wet the wound this entire time.

3. To meet this big Branch Family. I am starting to feel like Cachoeira is home, just in time for me to actually go home, hahaha! Oh well!

4. Sister Malan and I were talking about why I came, and she says it was because we needed to be companions. I feel like she is the one to begin this change is Cachoeira, to wake it up! She is a very powerful, earnest missionary. I love her. She says I was able to "pass my wisdom on to her" and now she feels ready to be the leader here when she receives her next companion.

My favorite little Enzo
5. I also came to Cachoiera because I had forgotten how hard missionary work can be. Poá was just so easy, Vila Virginia too. The problem in Poá was not having enough time each week to meet with everyone, and here it is a struggle to just fill a day. I was able to remember what it is like to work your hardest and try everything and still have little success, but see the miracles from the Lord in your own life because of your sacrifices. I am so grateful I was able to end my mission working so hard, fighting until the last moment!

I already know this week is going to fly by because we have already planned all of it. I am just going to keep living it up and sharing my testimony with anyone that will listen! I will try to strengthen Fernanda as much as I can before I leave as well (we are going to pass p-day with her today :D) Lots of emotions. Hasn't sunk in at all yet. I am happy and feel like I'll just stay here in Cachoeira forever :)

Have a wonderful week! Sister L

(Right) Whenever we clap, we hear little Enzo's tiny feet running and he comes and gives our legs monster hugs.This is Family Night with Fernanda, Luis Enrique, Fernando, Miguel, and little Enzo. Irma Mari came with her boys and gave the most perfect message about The Family: A Proclamation to the World. A perfect night.
Sums up Cachoeira Paulista

The Catholic Complex

Monday, August 7, 2017

Good and Short!

Another English with Cruzeiro
This week was also wonderful! Fernanda came to church, accepted a date for my LAST DAY--woohoo!!

Another lady named Edna also came to church. She has been an investigator for years because she could not quit smoking. HOWEVER, she just did a surgery and was unable to drink coffee or smoke for 20 days, so she used it as a super boost and hasn't drank or smoked since! She is glowing, so happy to finally be FREE of this addiction.

I love you all!  Have a wonderful week!

Divisions with Sister Saaredra
Photo to the left:  Poor missionary food (just kidding).  We are not hungry.  Sister Malan and I like to experiment with new foods.  Usually they turn out super good.  This one didn't.

Sunday Lunch with the whole family (the whole branch)!