Monday, December 30, 2013

Feliz Ano Novo, and Yep. I Ate Liver.

December 30, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,
Feliz Ano Novo, Feliz Anniversario para Laura, e Happy Anniversary to Mom and Dad!  Wow! So many things to celebrate at the end of the year!
Skyping with Sister Hicken on Christmas.
It was so great to talk to you guys on Christmas :) It was hard to hang up. When I first saw your faces on the screen, I started to tear up a little bit, and I found out afterwards that the rest of the sisters were bawling behind me too. They say you guys are beautiful! I agree :) Thank you for all your love and support, and for helping me be obedient. We had a limit of 45 minutes, and I didn’t want to follow it, but I did, and you guys didn’t ask me to stay longer. Thank you for helping me with that :) Sounds like you guys had a lovely Christmas! Ours was good in some ways and sad in others.
Christmas morning was great :) I used your nativity script that you sent mom, to read the Christmas story from the Bible with the other sisters, and we sang the hymns as well. It was really neat to start off our Christmas that way, with the right spirit. We went to Amanda’s house afterwards for lunch and then to talk with our families. After that, Sister Roig and I went and visited with one of our recent converts, Rosinha, who was going to spend Christmas alone. We couldn’t let that happen! We brought a bunch of food (we had a ton of snacks from the bishops of our 2 wards haha) and did the Nativity story again with her and her 2 kids, and watched Mundo Feliz, which is basically like the Nativity DVD, also from the Church. She had also made lasagna for us. She’s awesome. It was a very lovely evening, until we got a call from our relief society president saying that Ermesson’s dad had passed away that morning. Not sure if you remember, or if I told you, but Ermesson’s parents and sister joined the church while he and Thais were waiting to get married. They are an elect family. But the dad had been an alcoholic before he got baptized, and afterwards, began to drink again. He tried many times to stop, but couldn’t.  This past week, he had been very ill but refused to go to the doctor, but he stopped drinking, and was repenting, and told Rosa, his wife he was done drinking. He had gone 8 days without drinking (which is a lot for him). He died Christmas morning from a heart attack.
We were really sad for Thais, Ermesson, Rosa and Roberta to be spending their Christmas arranging a funeral. They are like a second family to me here. We love them very much. But we are glad that they all were baptized in the church, and that they have the opportunity to be sealed in the temple in one year. Now their dad is free from addictions and pain, and he had repented, so they take comfort in that. We visited Friday when they had returned from the funeral in another city, and they’re about as you would expect. Grieving, but taking comfort in the fact that they’ll see him again. But they’re going through this and other trials right now that are really wearing them down. If you could remember their family in your prayers at this time, that would be wonderful. They need all the support and prayers possible right now.
Something happy that happened this week-BAPTISM! Bruno, that 16 year old I told you about who came to church with his friend, was baptized on Saturday! He is fantastic. He was really searching for the truth, and knew what we taught him to be true. He’s kind of quiet, but has a firm understanding of the things we taught him, and we hope he’ll choose to serve a mission in a few years!
We started teaching another investigator, Larisa, who came to church with her friend Tuany last Sunday, and loved it. Tuany gave her a Book of Mormon, and she is reading it on her own. She wants to be baptized, but her mom forbade her to join our church (any other church but ours is fine, her mom said. aghhh. people spread so many rumors and lies without bothering to find out if they’re true. Her mom heard a bunch of stuff, and that’s why she won’t let her join). But Larisa is praying for her mom’s heart to be softened (Larisa is 17 btw). And we’re going to visit with her and her mom this week, to hopefully settle any misunderstandings or doubts that she has about our church. You can add Larisa to the prayer chart, mom :)
In other news, I ate liver this week. Yep. We were at a member’s house eating and I noticed Sister Roig didn’t take any of the meat, but didn’t know why, and just as I was putting some on my plate, the member told us what it was. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but it’s not great. Now I can say I ate liver!!! Woo!
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the packages and letters, again!!!! I LOVED the stocking, and have been eating and sharing candy all week. I have enough granola bars to last until the millennium now, or at least until next week. Haha ;) my companion laughed when she saw you put in a toothbrush and toothpaste, but I need it! Haha Christmas traditions. [Editor's Note:  Santa always leaves toothpaste and a toothbrush in Christmas stockings at our house.  It may have something to do with the candy in the stocking...] I’m excited to make brownies and Reese’s pie, and I love the earrings! And I know there was more stuff too, but I can’t remember. But I love love loved it thank you so soooooo much! And I loved your letters!!!!!! YOU GUYS ROCK!
Ohhh and quickly I have responses to questions from last week-
Rae- yes, I have eaten ice cream, but it’s 12 dollars here, so we never buy it, just eat it at members’ homes occasionally. And yes, the people talk very fast sometimes and it’s hard to understand them. But I’m getting better!
Em-[For Christmas] we ate lunch at Amanda’s house and dinner at Rosinha’s house. It sort of was a day off. We got to talk with family, and eat yummy food. We still worked kind of because we gave a lesson at Rosinha’s house, but it was a relaxed day.
Lar-we did the nativity story [for Christmas] (without dressing up ha-ha) and yes, I ate LIVER!!!!!.
Nate-transfers are in 2 weeks, January 13th. I may be training a new missionary! We’ll find out soon.
Bea-you asked no questions, I give you no answers. But I has questions for you! How did you do in your classes this year, and what are you taking next year? And I think Rachel totes magotes won the sword off by the way.
LOVE YOU ALL! Until next week!

Sister Hicken

Monday, December 23, 2013

Member Missionary Work and a Farmer Tan Better than the Lilo and Stitch Guy

December 23, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,
Ola from humid/rainy/HOTTER THAN HADES Brazil! Hope you are all enjoying the snow! It feels really really weird to be sweating in December. We’re listening to all the Christmas music we can, and decorating for Christmas and singing Christmas carols in many of our lessons, and are super excited to talk with family! But other than that it doesn’t feel much like Christmas haha. It’s not a super big holiday here, just a day off of work, and a month to hang up lights and creepy Santa statues. They celebrate the birth of the saints in July, and it’s super huge, but the birth of Jesus Christ himself isn’t a super big holiday.
This week was pretty difficult. We had 2 or 3 days with hardly any lessons. All of our appointments and plans B, C, D through Z fell through. Even going door-to-door singing hymns, hardly anyone wanted to listen to us. It was pretty discouraging. Sister Roig and I decided we needed to work more with the ward. The theme of stake conference was missionary work, and they’re really encouraging our stake to share the gospel with friends, and go out with the missionaries and integrate the new members. We were very excited to hear that. So this week we sat down with our Ward mission Leader (he’s 18 and preparing for a mission), and basically taught him how to be a ward mission leader. We read from preach my gospel, and talked with him about some things we could do to increase the work in the ward. After that we talked with our Relief Society president and our bishop, and got some really good ideas to help the members get involved in missionary work! We were really excited. And then yesterday the bishop’s wife went with us to two lessons that for the most part went really well. She answered some questions, and bore her testimony (it was especially cool with Luciene and Luana because they’re part of the religion that she used to be a part of, so she knew where they were coming from), and as we left their house, she was beaming. She loved it, and thanked us for inviting her to come with us. The spirit of missionary work is really contagious, and it gave us hope that the other members can experience this too, and want to become more involved!
Ahhh I can’t describe to you guys how much I’ve learned this week about the importance of members. They don’t just make A difference. They make THE difference. In reality, it should be us, as missionaries helping THEM to do the work. Especially now. It always should have been this way, but now our leaders have told us that the Lord is hastening his work, and the time has come for us all to be missionaries. This is something I didn’t really understand before the mission. I was scared to share the gospel with my friends. And I thought before my mission that I was preparing to serve a full-time mission, but now that I’m on a mission, I feel like I’m preparing to be a good member missionary afterwards, for the rest of my life. Please help your missionaries. Get to know their investigators, and recent converts. Invite your friends to activities. Most importantly, do your home and visiting teaching! We all need each other in the church, and home and visiting teaching is the way to make sure that everyone is loved and looked after. When it doesn’t happen, people fall away. Members are full-time finders, and the missionaries are full-time teachers. We look for people prepared to hear the gospel by knocking on doors, but it isn’t super effective. Every single one of the people who we have baptized recently found the church through a friend or family member. Members make the difference!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We may have a baptism this week! Bruno. A member, Ana Eduarda invited him to church, and he liked it and came again yesterday, and decided he wanted to be baptized. So we’re teaching him and he’s awesome, and we’re hoping to set a date for this week or next week. Pray for him! And also Luana. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted on the condition that she feels it’s right. We promised her as representatives of Jesus Christ that if she prayed earnestly, Heavenly Father would confirm to her that it is right. She is fantastic! Also Vitoria. She is elect. She’s just super stressed and confused right now. She’s seeking an answer and not feeling like she’s getting one. But she goes to church every week.
In other news, I have a farmer tan to rival that of the ice cream cone guy from Lilo and Stitch.
I love you all and wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!!! :)))))


Monday, December 16, 2013

Silent Night, Conferences, A Baptism, And the Nativity "star"ring Sister Pilar de Luz

December 16, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

So this week was good, but we had few lessons because we had soooo many conferences! Tuesday and Wednesday we went to the temple (ahhhh! :D) and then zone conference. A member couple spoke to us, and then Presidente and Sister Lanius. It was definitely what we needed to hear. So amazing. They talked a lot about faith, and how we have the resources we need, we have the priesthood, and the spirit, but we don’t have faith enough when the storms come. In between the talks, each zone sang a Christmas musical number, and read a scripture. We chose Silent Night. Sister Remy had a beautiful piano arrangement that we used for the first 2 verses and then Elder Carroll and I sang harmony on the last verse, with the rest of the district singing the alto part on an ooooooo. It was SO COOL!!!! And the scripture was Mosiah 3, not sure which verses exactly, but the prophesy about Jesus Christ. It was beautiful. After that, Sister Lanius had us all sing our numbers again (which was good, because the first time I was super nervous, and shaky and the next time it went better) and then she made Presidente sing O Come All Ye Faithful in Latin. They are so cute :) We love our mission president and his wife :)

Friday Thais was baptized!!!!!!! Finally!!!!!!!!!!! And Ermesson had received the priesthood the week before, so he was able to baptize her. It was so cute, the two of them in white :) He memorized the prayer and everything. They were so excited! Ahhhh finally after 9 months, Thais was baptized. It was definitely a struggle. Everything seemed to be going wrong beforehand, but through everything, they have both been faithful, and we are so happy for them!

Saturday we had stake conference, and our district leader called Saturday morning to tell us we would be singing Silent Night as a district again that night. So we got to sing it again! And then the bishop of the other ward that shares our building asked me to sing Silent Night this week for their Christmas fireside. Hahahaha. Stake conference was super good. The theme was building the missionary work, missionaries and members together. It was perfect! We have really been struggling to get the members to be involved with our investigators and recent converts. We’re hoping this helped open up their eyes a little.

Sunday Vitoria came to church (ahhhhh she is perfect. We’re going to invite her to be baptized tonight! Prayers!) and also Isabel, a girl who is dating an inactive member. She had met with the missionaries before, and we found her name in our records and visited with her a few times and invited her to church. She had seemed hesitant, and I wasn’t sure she would actually come, but she did, and with her boyfriend who’s a member! We were thrilled. We’ll meet with them this week and hopefully they’ll continue to come. It wasn’t regular church yesterday; it was a broadcast from Salt Lake especially for Brazil, with area authorities and Elder Ballard. It was super good, but not sure how it seemed to an investigator.

I think that’s all I have to tell from this week. I miss you and love you all! Oh, I received a letter from Sister Donnelly (In Portuguese!!!! It was so cool!!!!!) and from Lauren Mongie :) I will write back, but it may take a while. Tell them thank you from me and pass along a big hug :) It made my day :) And congratulations to Lauren on her mission call!!!!!!!

I love you oodles! Can’t wait to talk to you soon! Hope you are enjoying this Christmas season :) and remembering everything we have to celebrate!

Love, Sister Pilar de Luz

P.S. We want to act out the nativity story in our apartment on Christmas Eve. My companions wanted to use my whiteness to be the angel at first, but then they thought of a better role: the star. "It’s not easy....being white...."

Templo de Recife!!!!!!!


Batismo de Thais! Ermesson baptized her. AHhhhh it was so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!

Oh and I forgot to answer your other question. The dress from the baptism is from Rosinha, a recent convert (she’s amazing!!!!). She didn’t want the dress anymore and insisted I take it, and either use it or give it away. I resisted, but she wouldn’t take it back. I didn’t think I would use it because it’s open in the back and was too short, but we went to an alterations lady who added 6 inches of black fabric for cheap, and I wore a sweater with it, and it works!  

Opened one of the packages because it had Christmas decorations in it, but I’m saving the other until Christmas day!!!! Put up the tree, and the decorations, and the little things you wrapped in wrapping paper, I put underneath to open on Christmas :))) And last night I taped the Nativity pieces to the wall :) but I don’t have a picture of it yet. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!! I love love love the decorations, and the card, and the peanut butter and nutella and recipes, and everything :))))) you guys are the best!!!!!!!!!The other package is pretty big, and I’m saving it for Christmas day. I just sent you a picture of the decorations :)  There are no words to describe how much I love you guys!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, it really was a miracle [I got the packages]. It was a happy happy day :) It was truly an answer to many prayers :) Haha, the wrapping paper definitely makes it more fun :)[Editor's note, she is commenting on the fact that we wrapped up some not very exciting things in the package just for fun so she would have things to unwrap even though she'd only asked for some food treats and some necessities (like socks and Ziploc bags--no we didn't wrap the Ziplocs up.)] And yes, everyone got at least one package before Christmas. Others are coming, but everyone had at least one, except the other sisters already opened all of theirs, haha.

Our district at zone conference. We all dressed in blue so we’d look cool when we sang. It worked.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Christmas Postal Miracle

December 10, 2013


You are the best. Big hug from me. Sorry I didn’t write yesterday. Since we have zone conference and temple this week, they decided not to have a p-day Monday. But we were still going to be able to write to our families....until the night before, when we found out the AP changed his mind. Grrr. I support my leaders, I support my leaders I support my leaders. ANYways, I’m on now, I hope you’re able to get on. For Christmas, we’ll talk on Skype. Next week I'll be on at the normal time, so we can chat and figure out the time difference and when would be best for both of us. I'll have at least an hour to talk with you guys, maybe more. 

SO. Story about the packages. HEAVENLY FATHER ANSWERS PRAYERS, AND MIRACLES ARE REAL! I was praying hard that at least one would somehow get to me, and I really really didn’t want you guys to have to pay again. I felt sick thinking about it. Yesterday, one of the secretaries called to tell me that 2 packages arrived in a mail delivery place, with the wrong address, and they were going to be sent back, but a member of the church works there and he saw that they were for a missionary and kept them, and called the mission office. So today, when we went to Recife for the temple, we went to the mail warehouse, and asked for the packages, and the guy asked for a number, which we didn’t have, and I didn’t have the address of the packages (we had the one for letters, but no one knew the one for packages that’s wrong, and the APs were in the zone conference already). We tried everything, and no one knew the address and no one was answering phones, so I gave the guy our home address, and he said he’d look but he couldn’t promise anything cuz it would be really hard without the number of the package. So we waited and prayed REALLY hard. I felt like Nephi, asked to go and get the plates (or Christmas packages) but not knowing exactly how to do it. But he came back with 2 packages!!!!!!!!!! Oh my goodness, I cannot describe how happy I was. I almost cried. Okay I did cry a little bit. It was 2 from you guys. So don’t worry, 2 of them got here!!!!! And it really is a miracle, because they could only stay for 7 days before being sent back to the states, and only I could pick them up, and this was the only time we could go to Recife for the entire month. I said so many prayers of thanks today. Heavenly Father watches over his children :) I wish I had been able to tell you earlier so you didn’t have to worry about sending more, but we just found out yesterday, and we couldn’t email. 

Trying to think what I have to tell you from this week. This week was difficult, because we’re trying to find new people to teach, so we’ve been doing a lot of knocking on doors. That meant we didn’t get to visit some of our recent converts this week, and on Sunday only one of them came. Garrrhhh. We’re trying to get the ward involved in welcoming the recent converts, but it’s hard because there are so few people and they are already so busy. But we’re working as hard as we can. Oh yeah, we also lost some work this week because there was a day and a half where Sister Roig had to remain in our house, in close proximity to the porcelain throne. Not fun :( 

Yesterday we had the most fantastic lesson with Vitoria and Rayza. FINALLY we were able to teach them one on one, and talk openly. We taught the first lesson, and it went really well. The spirit was definitely there, and they were able to ask questions, and we explained everything, so that by the end, Vitoria had no doubts or questions left. We were so surprised. She had told us before that she had many doubts about the Book of Mormon. Ahhhh we were so pleased. They are really fantastic people, and we feel really strongly that they have been prepared to receive the gospel. They just need to read and pray and receive an answer. Pray for them! 

Today we left bright and early for Recife, and after the mail craziness, finally arrived at the temple. It is BEAUTIFUL. And they had the new film in Portuguese!!! And I actually understood most of it! It was just what we needed. Ahhhhh I love the temple. Tomorrow we have zone conference, and then Friday Thais is going to be baptized hopefully. Please pray for her. She has been waiting a long time, and this week has been difficult for her and the family, but she is so close! 

That’s pretty much it for the week. Oh except for the other day I killed a cockroach! He crept into our house, and I threw my girls camp shirt on him and smashed him. Poor t-shirt. It broke my heart a little. But it has never served a nobler cause. Also, we had a cat come through our back door the other day. Scared the living everything out of me. I think the next logical think to expect is a mountain lion. Fortunately I learned from Parent Trap how to ward off mountain lions, so we’re safe. 

I love you all, and hope you are enjoying this wonderful time of year! Alma 7:11-13 is my favorite scripture right now. Also Mosiah 3, where he prophesies of Christ. 

Love, Sister Hicken

YOUR BEAUTIFUL LETTERS!!  I read them again last night.  Thank you for all your letters on love and missionary work!  It is so true!!!  I can't speak the language very well, but people can always tell when you love them.   I enjoyed Laura's TARDIS and Boromir, and Dr. Who, and Rachel's gymnastics picture, and I will have nightmares of Emma's Gorgon guy.  And Nathan, yo no se nada de español ahora.  Hahahah.  Say hi to Brother Donnellon and Brother Marsh for me!!

Batismo de Ermesson.  He is a future bishop!!!         

Sister Roig and Sister Hicken at the Recife Brazil Temple

Sister Hicken, Sister Roig, Sister Rodrigues, and Sister Remy

Monday, December 2, 2013

We had 1 baptism and 3 investigators at church this week!!

December 2, 2013

Hi mom!

I’ll try to answer some of your questions today. Something very important---do you remember which address you sent the packages to? In the call, it has an address for letters and a different address for packages. I found out yesterday that the address for packages is wrong. Send everything to the letter address---

Sister Camille Dhara Hicken
Brazil Recife Mission
Rua Das Ninfas 30
Boa Vista- Recife- PE
50070-050 Brazil
My companion just told me this yesterday. I am soooooo frustrated. It’s been wrong for a long time, and no one has fixed it, and no one said ANYTHING when I arrived. The assistants know, I assume president knows, and they didn’t say anything!!!!!!!! Ahhhhçaahhhhhhhhh. I am learning patience this week whether I want to or not. So I’m not sure which you sent things to, but be sure to let people know.
I did, however receive your packet of letters this week!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh it made my week. I love you guys! I’m gonna add your pictures to the packet from Sarah Jane. I also had dearelder letters from Amy, and Aunt Anna.
We had one baptism this week! Ermesson was baptized on Thursday. Ahhh it was perfect! We were soo excited :) Thais wasn’t baptized because she wants him to baptize her, and he can’t receive the holy ghost and the priesthood in the same Sacrament Meeting.  Ghahhhhh! That was a long hairy hassle to get that figured out. It seemed like everyone was doing their best to impede the baptisms! Gahhh. So she has a date now for Friday the 13th :D haha.
We also had 3 investigators at church this week! That was a first. It is so hard to get people to church. We had Luciane and her granddaughter Luana, who we met knocking on doors this week. It turned out Luana already knew several members of our church, and a friend had given her a Book of Mormon. She is great. She’s 18. Her grandma is great too, but doesn’t quite understand things as fast.  (For example, we showed the Joseph Smith restoration video, and what she got out of it is that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and a random boat in the background was Noah’s ark. Face palm.) But they both came to church and really liked it! They had to leave before Sacrament Meeting, and then Vitoria came. She was a reference from the bishop, that we discovered Sister Roig had already talked to on the phone. The missionaries are teaching her sister in Recife, and Vitoria was interested, but was living in Recife and was moving here to Gravatá. Sister Roig called her to get her address, but she didn't have it yet, so we didn't have a way to visit her. Then a few weeks later the bishop gave us a reference, and it was her! She’s awesome. She is truly searching for the truth. And she finally came to church here! She went to church in Recife many times, and finally came here. We were so thrilled!  Especially since last Monday we had a FHE with her and Rayza her niece at a member's house that they are friends with. We were giving a short message about the Book of Mormon.  We have another one tonight. Please pray that it goes well. We invited more people including the bishop so fingers crossed, but I still am very nervous.
This week has been a real challenge. We’ve had some really good things happen, but also some really really not good things. We felt like we needed another P-day after the first one.
But on the upside, we now have hot water!!!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh!  Praise the heavens.
Friday we had a division with the sister trainers. I was super super stressed out and nervous, because they were coming to our area, instead of trading one sister for a day, which meant I would be on my own with another companion, visiting our investigators, and navigating our area. I did not feel ready, and I did not feel like I could understand them well enough, and know what commitments to extend. I was ready to explode from the stress of the week, and now this. But it actually went super well. The sisters are fantastic. I was with Sister Sobreira, and we visited our investigators, taught a new person, and I discovered that I could actually understand and do more than I thought. Sister Roig may have chosen different scriptures, said different things, but that doesn’t mean that what I chose was wrong. This is what I needed to find out. I really didn’t want to do the division, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed. I learned to trust myself more. And the sisters helped us, and got to know us, and were really awesome. I didn’t feel like they were breathing down our necks or taking notes or anything. We actually really enjoyed having them stay with us for a day. It was a testimony builder to me that the Lord knows exactly what we need.
Sister Roig and I also had a talk Monday, that helped me a ton. I had been upset earlier in the day, feeling like I was not able to teach by the spirit, and say the right thing, even though I was trying, and she listened, and when I finished, she told me when she was being trained, she felt useless in the lessons, still learning Portuguese. Sister Perez did everything, and the investigators just talked to her, and so Sister Roig never felt guided by the spirit. But now she’s training, and she feels inspiration, because she really needs it, and is really seeking it. We’re companions she said, but at the same time, I’m still learning and need to lean on her sometimes, and so she really needs to be guided by the spirit. And she feels it. But she didn’t before. This was a huge relief to me, because I had been feeling similarly. I do my best to participate in our lessons, but I can only understand so much, and am still learning how to teach. This combined with the advice from Dad the other week has helped me tremendously.
Investigators.  I don’t know last names, they're all super long. But if you could pray for Vitoria, Rayza, Thais, Luciane, and Luana this week, that would be wonderful :)
Gravatá----all the a’s are pronounced like the a in father. And it has an accent on the last a, so it’s like GravatA.

Aggghggggggasjdkfhakdsjfhaksjdfhasdjfh! My computer is kicking me off.
The photos of Ermesson”s baptism magically disappeared from my camera, so I'll have to try again next week.

Apologize to Amy and the kids, and Bea for me. I didn’t have time to write them this week, but they are in my thoughts and prayers. Hope I get to talk to you next week.

Love you!
Sister Hicken

Happy December!  We are lookin' GOOD!