Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2 John 1:12...The Last Letter from the Mission Field

February 25, 2015

Como o tempo voa [How time flies.]

Well, this is the last weekly mission email until I’m old and retired and serve a mission with my husband! How weeeeird! I don't have much time today because I’m gonna have an interview with President, and then we're going to the TEMPLE!!!!!! So I’ll have to make this brief. 

This week has not been easy for us. I think the hardest thing for me as a missionary has been to see individuals that we as a companionship pray, fast, study, and work for, and love so much, decide to choose other paths that will not bring happiness. Something that I have had to learn is to see my work as the Lord sees it. To put everything I have on the altar, all my fears, energy, thoughts, time, everything I have. If I give my honest offering to the Lord, He is happy with my work, whether His children accept it or not. We have felt a peace this week, knowing that. 

It has been a whirlwind of emotions this week, I don't even know how to describe what it feels like to be at the end of a mission, but I am so very glad to be here, serving the Lord. I know He loves His children SO much. And He answers their prayers. 

I love you and hope you have a wonderful week! Até logo!  [See you!]

Sister Hicken

2 John 1:12

[Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink:  but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.]

Monday, February 16, 2015

Where is Your Umbrella?

February 16, 2015

Hello everyone! Happy Valentines Day! Happy February and everything :)

So this week, during Carnaval, we have been going out at 9 a.m. because we have to be indoors by 5 p.m. And I have been getting double tanned. Even Sister Morales, who is brown, got super burnt when she forgot to put on sunscreen this week. The sun has been scooorching. And I got chewed out this week 2 different times by 2 different little old ladies who we had never met before. "Where is your umbrella? You’re so white, you need to always carry an umbrella to protect you from the sun! You could get cancer!" And one said, "I know you're doing good things, and God protects you but God doesn't do what we ourselves can and should do!" I decided they were 2 of the 3 Nephites. And I heeded their counsel. 

Other than that, Carnaval has been really calm. 

Events of the week...some investigators, and their son came to church this week again, and also Damião, and another investigator! We are working with the members to reactivate, and rescue less actives. (Sidenote-Alma 17 is really interesting to study with the perspective of bringing back less actives). Unfortunately, none of our investigators were able to come to church this week :( Gabriel had to work. Thank you for your prayers for him. He is struggling with some things right now, and has been the focus of our prayers this week.  

We are finding new people to teach this week as well, despite Carnaval.  We met one man on the street this week that said he had already talked several times with the missionaries, and wasn’t all that interested in marking a day to meet with us, but then he started talking about how there are so many religions in the world, and asked the question, “Why are there so many churches?” and we said, “We have the answer to that!” and gave a summary of the Restoration, and showed him the Book of Mormon.  Though he said he had met several times with the missionaries, this seemed to be news to him.  He asked how much it costed, and we told him it was free if he wanted to read it, and he accepted, and marked a day to meet with us.  We are excited to return and meet with him again this week.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!  I will see you again next Wednesday [not Monday], we’re going to the temple!

Sister Hicken  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Too Much Fat Tuesday!

February 9, 2015

Never in my life have I seen such celebration of Fat Tuesday. It is just this year that it is dawning on me that Carnaval is actually the celebration of Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Those are the roots of the holiday, but no one knows. But yeah a week of partying and craziness all for Fat Tuesday. I mean......I liked Fat Tuesday before, like getting pazckis (or however you spell it) [For those of you who haven't heard of pazckis, they're Polish jelly-filled doughnuts sold for Fat Tuesday] in school....but a week long party seems like a liiiiittle overkill to me....

Excerpt of letter to president
“This week has gone much better. We have been working more with the members, and we have been able to teach more, and we have an awesome family that is being reactivated. We also marked the baptism of one of our investigators for this Sunday, but then he didn't come to church and we don't know why. But we haven't given up. We were able to meet his mom, and we took with us our ward mission leader, and he talked with her for a long time, about the church, about her family, and she was able to tirar algumas dúvidas [ take some questions ], and we saw that she relaxed over the course of the conversation, and by the end she accepted a visit, and an invitation to come to our ward cultural night on Wednesday (along with her other son who almost NEVER leaves the house because he has depression). We, our ward mission leader, and some other members who have also met our investigator, feel strongly that the Lord wants him, and needs him to join the church. We feel that he will be a powerful missionary. He took us to visit a friend of his this week so we could teach her about the plan of salvation, and he asks questions about serving a mission, frequently. Sister Morales and I are praying and fasting and working to prepare him for baptism. We are doing all we can.”

So that is the biggest highlight of the week, our investigator. He is one of the most incredible investigators I've ever had. He asks such good questions, and has such a desire to do what's right. Please keep him in your prayers! 

Other highlights....we had a neat experience with a less active daughter of an active member. We shared 3 Nephi 5:13, and talked about how we're all disciples of Jesus Christ once we are baptized. We asked her what it means to her to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and she shared an experience that she hadn’t even shared with her mom. She has a friend that was atheist, and last week he messaged her and told her that he is no longer atheist, and she asked him what happened, how he came to believe in God, and he said it was because of her, and she was super surprised. But her example as a member of the church had a big influence on him. And she was super touched by that, and by the scripture we shared, and felt that God was using us to tell her how much He loved her. She is not ready to return right now, but she felt God's love for her, and we just felt so much love for her, and have hope that she will come back in the future. 

Another family, who have been inactive for a few years, and we have been visiting, came to church this week! Everyone was sooo happy to see them, and they are now preparing to enter the temple! :D

Also, Irmão Damião is doing great. He is also preparing to enter the temple and to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. We just love him so much :) 

I have to go now, but love and hugs from me and until next week!

Sister Hicken

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Missionary Work is an Exercise in Patience...and More Patience

February 2, 2015

Howdy from sunny and sweaty Ouro Preto! (as my mom would say)

This week has been an exercise in patience, I’ve decided.  Mosiah 24.  A few of our investigators who we have been teaching for a few weeks and were preparing them for baptism have not been able to meet with us this week, or have flat out marked with us and then didn’t show up.  Just when you think you’ve learned patience…

But we’ve also had some great experiences this week.  Our 15 year old investigator who comes to church EVERY week (albeit veeeery late) but hasn’t accepted to be baptized, is progressing.  We were talking about prophets in the Bible this week, and I don’t remember how it led up to this but he said “God should call a prophet today.  He called prophets in the past, so it should be the same today.  If the Church had a prophet, I would believe”  I have never had such pleasure in announcing that God has indeed called a living prophet to guide us in these days.  (Note—we AND the other sisters already taught the Restoration, and talked about modern day prophets, so not sure how this was news to him, but we were happy that it clicked now)  We showed him a picture of Pres. Monson and the 12 apostles, and on the back it had a picture of the Salt Lake Temple, and he asked about that, and we explained a little about temples.  He expressed to us his desire to know which of aaaaalll the churches is true, and we told him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  Cuz if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith and the Church and everything is also true.  He promised he would.

We had zone conference as well this week, which was AWESOME.  President gave a training on the Book of Mormon, and also how to improve our teaching, using 1 Nephi 11 as a model.  We have seen such a difference in our teaching since then.

One experience we had with the Book of Mormon was on Thursday, when we went to visit our recent convert, Damião.  We had planned to teach him again about the priesthood, but after the zone conference, we both felt we needed to follow up on his study of the Book of Mormon.  He told us that he has been reading, and hasn’t gotten very far, but what he has read has changed his life.  He said before, he didn’t have any motive or direction, but as he reads the Book of Mormon, he sees the direction he needs to go.  He has a thirst to read and learn more, and is excited to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover.  We asked him what he most wanted in his life, and he talked about his family, and how he wanted them to have peace and make good decisions, and we felt inspired to share a passage of the introduction with him and a passage in 3 Nephi 12, which talk about how the Book of Mormon will help people find peace in this life and salvation in the next life, and we all discussed together what he can do to help his family, by being an example, continuing to live the gospel, inviting them to church, and to meet the missionaries.  We hadn’t planned to talk about any of these things, but as we talked with him, questions came to our minds, and as awe listened to what he said, we realized what we needed to share.  It was fantastic!

There is more I would love to write, but I need to respond to individual emails now.  I love you all, and hope you have a wonderful week!  :)

Sister Hicken

Zone Conference with President and Sister Bigelow

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Feel Like the Wicked Witch of the West, "I'm melting!"

January 26, 2015

Hey guys! Happy January! 

Hope things are not too cold and dreary where you are. Here we are melting. I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West. But we kind of get used to it. 

These past few weeks, at the end of the day, we have been recording and sharing with each other the Tender Mercies of the day. This is something I learned from the sisters in Goiana :) It's been a great way to remember and recognize the hand of the Lord during the day, and reenergizes us. Even at the end of a long or hard day, there are still things to be grateful for. I love Nephi 1:20 and Alma 34:38. 

1 Nephi 1:20
“But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

Alma 34:38
“That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.”

Tender mercies of the week-

WATER! Bucket showers are no more! For now, at least. It is such a blessing to have running water.

Leadership Council in which President Bigelow gave a training on how to teach using 1 Nephi 11. WOW, I never realized how that chapter is packed with hidden treasures. It shows us exactly how we should teach. We learned soooo much and have put those things in practice in our teaching, and have seen a difference in our investigators, and an increase in our unity and sensitivity to the Spirit. The biggest thing we've done is to ask more questions, and have the investigator participate more, because this invites the Spirit to work in them, as they respond, and we know better how to help them. 

A lady who almost was baptized a few years ago, but didn't commit to make necessary changes, stopped us in the street a few weeks ago, and asked if we could come visit her one day. We taught her a couple times, and she is fantastic, very intelligent, and has a good memory of what the other sisters taught her (years ago). She came to church yesterday, and many members remembered her. She's awesome, and loved the classes, and knows what she needs to do. We are praying for her to have the courage to make the necessary changes. 

Another less active family came to church this week.  The ward is becoming so excited seeing these lost sheep return to the fold, and are having more desire to visit and rescue other families :)

Damião received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday! He is looooving church, and loved the family home evening we had with him and a family in the ward. He wants to learn everything he can :)

This week, honestly was kind of rough, because a lot of appointments fell through like 3 days in a row, even with our solid investigators. But we saw it as a test of our faith. We want the Lord to know he can trust us with his sheep. And we saw tender mercies at the end of every day, and we know this week will be better. 

Well we have to go, but I send muitos abraços e apertos de mão para todo mundo onde quer que vocês estejam! :) [many hugs and handshakes for everyone wherever you are. ]  Love you all!

Sister Hicken

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Taking a Bucket Shower and Washing Dishes from a Bucket...It's Funner Than It Sounds!

January 19, 2015

This week was, as always, crazy. But it was sooooo good! 

First things first-

Damião was baptized!!!!!!!! We were sooo happy. It was a simple, short baptismal service, but it went perfectly. It was so sweet to see his expression as he came up out of the water. He was just so happy. And then on Sunday, after his confirmation, he came back and sat down next me and said "Okay, NOW I'm a Mormon!" haha :) Irmão Rinaldo, our ward mission leader gave a talk on Sunday and in the middle of his talk, he invited Damião to come up and bear his testimony (after he had asked me before sacrament meeting if he would have to talk at the pulpit and I said no, haha). It was soo sweet, his testimony. So simple and pure, like a child's. 

Other news-we invited the majority of our investigators to be baptized on a specific date. The results-One accepted to be baptized on February 7th, two others are still investigating, and need more time to feel if it's right, and one flat out refused. But it was good to "DTR" [Define The Relationship] with our investigators so that we can know how to help them, if they desire to follow Christ or not. 

Other news.....the town has been out of running water for most of this week. We have 2 big plastic barrels of water that hold 1000L, so when we don't have running water, we take bucket showers and flush toilets with buckets and wash our dishes in water from a bucket! It's funner than it sounds. 

Other newwwss...........today is the first day of my last transfer. That is so weird to think. 

Oh, I forgot to tell about the division we did from the week before. I went to Goiana to do a division with Sister H. Silva for a day, and Sister Ruiz came here to Ouro Preto. 

I'm almost out of time, we only have an hour today because the Lan House is gonna close, but I love you all and wish you a happpppy MLK day!

Love, Sister Hicken

Sister Hicken, Jacqueline, and Sister Morales

Sister Hicken, Pedro and Gabriel.  Pedro always asks, "Do you wear Princess Dresses every day?"

Sister Hicken, Damiao, and Sister Morales

Brother Rinaldo, Damiao, Sister Hicken, and Sister Morales

View from the highest point in Ouro Preto.

A real live, well actually dead scorpion in our apartment.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Internet Crashes, Investigators, and Scorpions. Oh My!

January 12, 2015

Oi everybody! 

I don't have much time today because the internet crashed and we had to come back 2 hours later, and it was a big ole mess and yeah, but I'll try and share the highlights here. 

One of our investigators is going to be baptized this week on Saturday! Please keep him in your prayers! The adversary works hard to mess up and impede baptisms, and dissuade the investigator especially the week of the baptism, so we're praying hard that everything will go smoothly, and that he will continue to feel peace with his decision. Another investigator may be baptized this day but it is not very likely, as she has a ton of medical appointments this week. She is incredible though. In the midst of so many problems with her health and her house, she comes to church every Sunday that she can. The only thing she needs is to be taught the rest of the lessons. She feels what we're teaching is true, and is seeing the difference and we are seeing a difference in her. She is even planning to go find a modest dress this week, and we haven't even talked about the standards, but she said she would feel better that way. 

We had a lot of investigators at church this week, it was great! Two of them finally came for the first time, and they liked it a lot.  We're planning to mark their baptism tonight. ALSO, SISTER DANA AND SISTER PIZA, GABRIEL CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!! And he loved it! He also went to the movies with Rodrigo and some of the other young men this week. Wooohoo! 

Sad thing of the week-Jaqueline moved to the city :((((((((((((((((((((((( It was so sad to say goodbye to her and her kids. Me and Sister Morales wrote a letter to her, and stopped by to deliver it and say goodbye. She surprised us by giving us each a pair of earrings and a ring. Soooo sweet. I feel strongly that she was a large part of the reason I needed to come to Ouro Preto. Sister Morales and I both love her and her family soooo much. We all bawled when it was time to go :( But I'm happy that she plans to continue going to church and preparing to get married and be baptized. 

In other news, I had an encounter with a real live scorpion this week! Well....now, it's a real dead scorpion. But it's still ugly! I took pictures. I'll send them next week. I also have pictures of happier things, like Jaqueline and her cute kids that I'll try to send. 

I love this work. I have never been so happy and involved in a greater cause---building the Lord's kingdom, and helping people find true happiness. This is the true church of Jesus Christ. I know it. I know He lives. I know He is our Savior and Redeemer. Following Him is the way to find true happiness. 

I love you all, and hope you have a FANTASTIC ;) week. 

Sister Hicken