Happy May, folks.
(Yes, that means Mother´s Day. YES!)
This was a good week.
In February, we baptized Maria and yesterday her husband was FINALLY baptized!
We found them in January, and are super happy that he finally decided to take
this important step. It was a miracle.
Really don’t have much
news for now... this transfer is flying. The area is great. We are working
Easter has come and
gone, but it’s a message we always hold in our hearts. As such, I found a
really beautiful story, a glue-in in my scriptures from seminary.
``It was obvious that
8-year-old Stephen´s mental retardation was becoming even more severe. His Sunday school teacher did her best to include Stephen
in the classroom activities and to avoid situations which might prompt his
classmates to make fun of him. In April, she gave each of the 8 children in the
class an empty L´eggs pantyhose container (plastic egg) and instructed them to
place inside the container an object that represented new life in spring.
Fearing that Stephen might not have caught on, and not wanting to embarrass
him, the teacher had the children place all the containers on the desk so that
she could open them. The first had a tiny flower in it. “What a lovely sign of
new life,” the teacher said. One of the students couldn’t help but erupt, ``I
brought that one!”
“Next, came a rock.
The teacher assumed this must be Stephen´s, since rocks don’t symbolize new
life. But Billy shouted that his rock had moss on it, and moss represented new
life. ``Very good, Billy,” agreed the teacher. A butterfly flew from the third
container and another child bragged that her choice was the best of all. The
fourth container was empty. This must be Stephen´s, thought the teacher,
quickly reaching for a different one. ``Teacher, please don’t skip mine,`` interrupted
Stephen. ``But its empty, Stephen,” said the teacher gently. “That’s right,``
said Stephen. ```The tomb was empty, and that represents new life for everyone.”
“Later that summer,
Stephen´s condition worsened and he died. At his funeral on his casket,
mourners found 8 L´eggs pantyhose containers- one from each of his classmates-
and all of them empty.”
I love little
Stephen´s perspective. The Savior provided the path for “new life” for each of
us. He made it possible for us to really live, this life and in the next. We have
hope in the life to come, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't have hope and
joy and love and laughter in the life we live in now. As 2 Nephi 2:25 reads, ``men are that they might have joy``.
Christ made it possible for us to be happy. I want you to ask yourself this
question, ``Am I happy?” And if you are, good! You are an example to us all-
keep on keeping strong, and do your best to help those of us who haven’t quite
made it there yet, or just aren't feeling so bright and cheery today. And if
you can’t say ``yes`` to my question, a second one follows: ``Why not?``
I’m going to be very
honest with you and I don’t want anyone overreacting. I hit a rough few months.
The lowest I’ve ever been in my life. The words of Jeffrey R. Holland in his
talk, ``Like a Broken Vessel`` became very alarmingly real to me. I had never
been so afraid or hopeless or apathetic in my life... These are not numbered
among my characteristics- virtues or vices, it was never me. Regretfully I tell
you that I thought I´d nearly forgotten what it meant to be happy and thought I´d
never make it there again. But God sent me an angel. (I have many in my life,
you know :) ) A member took us into a small shop on the street corner and had
my companion and I each choose a bracelet- a small gift. My companion
immediately selected the red on with the word, ``LOVE`` lettered in cursive
across the band. I chose a bracelet not paying much attention to color or
wording. The member told me he didn’t like my choice and said, ``Pick the pink
one (with the word ``happiness``). I don’t know what motivated his decision,
but it was an answer to prayer. I looked at the word ``happiness`` and felt
something spark in my mind and my heart. I slipped the band on my wrist and we
went back to work.
A bracelet is a silly
thing, really, and this is a silly story... but I learned something, and I
think that’s always what counts. I learned that the choice to be happy is as
easy as the choice to slip a simple band on your wrist. The keyword here is
``choice``. So every morning when I put the band on, I make the choice that
today I AM going to be happy. President Uchtdorf teaches this principle in his
talk, “Of Resolutions and Regrets” in the section, “I wish I’d let myself be
He said, “So often we
get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach
that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial
situation, or the end of a challenging trial. The older we get, the more we
look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or
determine our happiness. You and I are ultimately in charge of our own
happiness... sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we
fail to find joy in the journey... doesn't it seem foolish to spoil sweet and
joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they
will end?... We shouldn't wait to be happy until we reach some future point,
only to discover that happiness was available all the time! Life is not meant
to be appreciated only in retrospect. ``This is the day the Lord hath made…”
the psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it”... No matter our circumstances,
no matter our challenges and trials, there is something in each day to embrace
and cherish... Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.``
AMEN. I testify that
we can be happy. We can be grateful, hopeful, joyful, patient, merciful, selfless and giving, meek,
and even understanding. We can be better
listeners, quick to forgive and slow to anger. We can be examples, better Christians,
better neighbors, and better friends. I’m not saying it’s easy, but the phrase,
``attitude is everything`` isn't a joke, and not much of an exaggeration
I LOVE you guys, and
as such, my heart breaks for you in your heartache and rejoices with you in
your success. My invitation to each of you this day and always is that you make
the choice. Make the choice each day- no matter how difficult each coming day
may seem. And if you establish this goal
with Christ as your center, focus, foundation, and inspiration, I promise you
that no force in earth or hell with have power to knock you down. Christ always
wins. That means that we get to win, too.
With this in mind, may
we always remember the words of David O. McKay, “Mans greatest happiness comes
from losing himself for the good of others.”
I love you all. Be good. Be safe. Be happy. SMILE! You all have beautiful
Clau- a friend of
Who says you can’t be
a missionary AND a rockstar? Fun fact: my nickname here is Miley Cyrus. People
here think I look like her.
It was a great week.
Leandro was baptized. He is from Rio, which makes him SUUUUUUUPPPERRRRR
cool. Always wanted to be carioca. Já era. Anyways, we found him tracting. (So
thank you President for the request!)
This week was
interviews with President and Sister Nogueira- it went very, very well. Sending
mom some details ;)
April is flying,
right? Can’t believe I will be talking to you guys in a few weeks! Stoked!
Anyways, we are all doing well here, just loving Guarabira.
2 funny stories. 1)
Almost weekly, someone tells me I look like an actress from a Mexican soap
opera. Hysterical. Don’t know what I think about that.
2) I have a new
investigator that is calling me her `nora` - daughter-in-law. O my goodness... Jacqueline
#2.... if only she could be Jacqueline for real? I really miss her....; /
One thought I had
today- inspired by my Katie and her thoughts on happiness.. I have been
thinking a lot about happiness lately (thanks for the letters, Kate) and came
across this quote: ``You know you sometimes think yourself into unhappiness and
depression. But did you know, you could also think yourself into happiness? By
positive thinking, you will be well, you will prosper, and your prayers will be
answered. Become the master of your thoughts. Stop thinking about how tough
life is. Stop thinking about the future and the past, think of God´s riches and
love and express these thoughts daily. You will become what you think.`` Albert
Obviously this is much
easier to hear and say than to do, isn’t it, so for those of you discouraged,
President Uchtorf always seems to help, ``My dear brothers and sisters, don’t
get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t
feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking…in
righteousness is simply to try…We must try to believe. Try to learn of God,
read the scriptures, study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to
listen to the father, and do the things he asks of us. Try and keep on trying
until that which seems difficult becomes possible- and that which seems only
possible becomes habit and a real part of you.``
You can do it!!! We
can! Smile about that! Yesterday we celebrated the greatest act of all- what
made it all possible!
So the pictures are better than the message this week. Sorry.... I am already
out of time. But I love you so much! Have a great week. Michael, stop breaking
so many hearts ;)
It was a good week and
really, it hasn't been too long since I last emailed (Wednesday). All is well here in Guarabira and the work is moving forward.
I wish I had more news
or something excited to say... but I don’t. We do have a lot of investigators
that are progressing right now, and that is a huge blessing!
Really, all my
thoughts this week are turned to next Sunday, Easter. What an amazing day it is
to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. In that spirit, I had to
quotes I wanted to share today.
Holland gave a few things to remember during sacrament meeting and I found one
idea particularly interesting. He said, ``On some days we will ahve cause to
remember the unkind treatment He received, the rejection he experienced, and
the injustice- oh the injustice He endured. When we, too, then face some of
that in life, we can remember that Christ was also troubled on every side, but
not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;
cast down but ´dot destroyed´(2 Cor 4:8-9).
``When those difficult times come to us we can remember that Jesus had to
descend below all things before he could ascend above them, and that He
suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that He might be
filled with mercy and know how to succor His people in their infirmities (Alma
``To those who stagger
or stumble, he is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end he is there to
save us, and for all this He gave His life. However dim our days may seem, they
have been darker for the savior of the world... in fact, in a resurrected
otherwise perfected body, our Lord of this sacrament table has chosen to retain
for the benefit of his disciples the wounds in his hands and his feet and his
side- signs, if you will, that painful things happen even to the pure and
perfect. Signs, if you will, that pain in this world is NOT evidence that God doesn’t
love you. It is the wounded Christ who is the captain of our soul- he who yet
bears the scars of sacrifice, the lesions of love and humility and
I think the message of
the resurrection is the most beautiful that there is... and the same hope comes
from Joseph B. Wirthlin´s message, Sunday Will Come. He said, ``I think that of
all the days since the beginning of this world´s history, that Friday when the
Savior was crucified was the darkest. But the doom of that day did not endure.
The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the
bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant
as the Savior of all mankind. And in an instant, the eyes that had been filled
with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress
and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the
Son of the Living God, stood before them as the first fruits of the
Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous
existence... Because of the life and eternal sacrifice of the Savior of the
world, we will be reunited with those we have cherished.``
I love my Savior. The
words of the hymn, ``I stand all amazed`` come to mind as I think of all He did
for each and every one of us. He loves us. My prayer is that this Easter Sunday
and always, we remember His loving sacrifice that made everything possible.
I love you all. I am
grateful to have the greatest family to have ever lived. We are not a perfect
family, are we? But we are together to teach each other all we need to know
that one day will may be perfected in Christ.
Have a wonderful day,
week, whatever. Be safe. I love you. May God be with you until we meet again.
Transfer news? I am
still here with Sister Willette. What a blessing to stay in this area. One of
my really good friends, Sister Augusta went home. That was super sad; she has
helped me SO much these last 2 months. I will miss her. It’s strange watching a
missionary ``die``. I don’t know how to explain it really. When you’re a
missionary, when you've been out long enough, you get to the point where you
forget your old life- it feels like a dream. It truly feels like you will never
go home... Watching her leave was hard- most have blank expressions- like it doesn't sink it until long after you've reached the airport back home, and even then I’m
sure the shock doesn't pass....
Since I hit my year
mark, I have had many tell me to keep focused and keep working hard. I appreciate
the encouragement, counsel, and support. And to make it clear- I’m more focused
than ever. And even though I love you all more than life itself- it doesn't feel like I’m going home ANY time soon- or ever for that matter. Know that my
mind is here...and even though you all have a very big piece of my heart there,
my heart is here too. When bad things happen, you just learn quickly that the
gospel is all you really have. That’s a lesson I am learning very well these
This was a good week-
full of hard work and topped off with General Conference, as you know. I don’t
have any inspiring stories... I only watched one session in English and the
rest was Portuguese. So let’s just say I am very much looking forward to the
Ensign (in English). But it was phenomenal, as always. The highlight for me was
the last session. I can’t remember who taught the first vision/ restoration,
but it was stellar. 2 speakers invited us to pray to know of the truth for
ourselves. We had an investigator with us during that session and at the end
she turned to me and asked, “Do you really believe I can pray and know for myself
too?” The hope in her eyes nearly brought tears to mine as I replied, “I promise
you that you can know, too...” She readily accepted baptism after that and now
we are working with her with a date. The gospel changes people’s hearts. Our
message is a message of change and hope and we couldn't have a better one to
take to all nations. (or to all neighbors... hint hint)
Fun fact: I have bangs
now- Sister Augusta cut my hair for me last night... and I love it- so even
though, Mom, you always told me not to... you would like them, too. Ha, that
was random- but só vai.
I really don’t have
much else to say. Can’t believe its April. Super excited for Easter- to
celebrate the greatest act of all history. And...I love being a missionary. I
really do. I would be nothing without my mission. I see why God called me to
serve now and am ever grateful that He did.
I hope you all have a stellar week. I love you and pray for you always. Wish I
had a quote for today... but I don’t. All I have is something I learned last
week about prayer:
We don’t pray to change God´s final answer. We pray to finally reach the same
conclusion for ourselves that He arrived at a long time ago.
He already knows what
we need and when we pray- we find out how it is that He plans to give it to us
and a lot of the time that means work on our part. It requires that we use the
enabling power of the atonement.