Monday, February 24, 2014

I Was Almost Spiderwoman!


February 24, 2014
Monday


This week has been fantastic! Lots of things happened, hopefully I'll have time to tell everything.

First of all, Sheila is progressing well. She's decreasing the number of cigarettes she smokes every day, and is loving everything we teach. Every day she studies the Book of Mormon, the Liahona, the gospel principles manual and the Bible. And she and Rosa have become good friends :) It makes me SO happy to see how much she is progressing, and to see her become a part of the ward.

We started teaching Larissa's boyfriend's family! Leo and his two sisters, Jaqueline and Luzia. Larissa still can't go to church, but she came to our English class with Leo and then Leo came to church this Sunday. And he and Jaqueline accepted the invitation to be baptized! They have so much potential! They just need to keep the commitments. :)

Vitoria went to Recife AGAIN this weekend. :(  We're going to try to get in contact with the missionaries there to see if they can teach her on the weekends. Rayza is doing well, but can't go to church without Vitoria. :(

We did visiting teaching visits with two sisters in our ward this week. My visiting teaching companion is Rosilda, and Sister Fortes' is Rosiney. Home and visiting teaching here is practically nonexistent, so we asked the bishop and the Relief Society president if we could do divisions with the sisters to help them understand and learn how to do visiting teaching. Altogether we visited 6 sisters, and it went really well! They caught the spirit of missionary work, of being a good shepherd, as is the message this month. They were really excited, and so were we.  :)  I wish I could emphasize how VITAL home and visiting teaching is. It is our chance, our responsibility to be shepherds of the Lord's flock. It really, really, really makes a difference.

We had a division this week with our trainers. It was super awesome.

This week and next week will be Carnaval. Basically it's a giant week long party, kind of like Mardi Gras. We have to be home by 5 every night from this Friday to the next. It’s super annoying because we have some investigators who can only meet at night, but we'll work it out. I’ll use this time to write a mountain of letters to everyone!

Transfers were today. Everyone in our house is staying, but now Sister Dana and Sister Rodrigues are our new trainers!

Also WE HAVE A FLUSHING TOILET NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And new mattresses, and we don't have to hand fill the washing machine with a hose now. It feels like Christmas.

In other news, I HATE BUGS. A radioactive spider or something bit me this week, and made a huge red mark on my leg. It didn't itch or hurt or anything, and I felt fine, besides the fact that I started shooting webs and eating flies, but it was pretty huge, and wasn't going away, so we went to the doctor. He made the profound diagnosis that it was an allergic reaction to a bug bite, and gave me a prescription for some drug with a fancy name like "anti-inflammatory" or something. But I know it was really to suppress my superpowers. It's normal for people to be afraid of the supernatural. But I would use my powers for good! Sigh...I’m so misunderstood. ANYways, I took some ibuprofen and it's going away now.

That’s all I can think of for now! I love you all and miss you! Thank you for your prayers and love and support! Until next week!

Love,
Sister Hicken


And this guy.  Yes.  He's VERY, VERY, VERY REAL!  GRRROOSSSSSS!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

5 months in the field! We had some miracles happen this week!

February 17, 2014
Monday


This week we had some miracles happen. AHHH guys we are so excited! First, Rayza had a dream! We finally got to talk with her this week. She had been sick, but we finally managed to meet with her. And she told us that she had been praying for weeks and weeks about our church, and about the Book of Mormon, and liked it but hadn't really felt a definite answer. So she asked Heavenly Father to show her what she needed to do in a dream. And that night, she dreamed she was at the church, with some friends, and they invited her to go do something, but she said she needed to go to church.  And then after that she saw another church building all lit up with gold, and there was a ton of people going in. She woke up, and was super excited. She remembered what she had prayed for, and saw that Heavenly Father had answered her prayer. She was so excited, she ran and told her mom everything. Her mom isn’t super keen on the church, but Rayza was so happy. She really has such a strong desire to be baptized. I was amazed. The Lord rarely answers prayers in such a dramatic way, but she had such faith.  And He knew she would follow what He commanded, and He answered with a dream. The only thing impeding baptism now is her parents. We will fast and pray to know what to do to help them. Vitoria went to Recife again this week. Gahh. 

SHEILA IS THE MOST ELECT INVESTIGATOR I HAVE EVER SEEN! Guys. She is devouring everything we teach her and everything we give her to read. She loves the pamphlets. She studies them and writes everything out in a notebook. She is studying the Book of Mormon, and the conference Ensign. We taught her about the law of chastity, and we hardly had to explain anything. She Sheila told us she has never been married because she doesn't want to get married if it's not going to be forever. She has seen how disobeying the law of chastity has destroyed so many families. She came to church yesterday and LOVED IT. She told us "I’ve found my church!" So why isn' she baptized you ask?? She smokes. But she has SUCH a desire to quit, and we made goals with her and the bishop talked with her too. He was a smoker before he joined the church, and made a goal with her to quit smoking by smoking one less cigarette every day. In 2 weeks she should be done with smoking. She is sooooooo excited to be baptized, and is already sharing the gospel with her friends. Ahhhhh I love her so much. She is amazing! 

We also had 2 inactive young men come to church yesterday! Marcos and Marlon. One is 13 and the other 17.  They’re brothers. Marlon reminds me of Nathan! We visited them last week and they almost cried when they started talking about their baptism. They felt the Spirit and a desire to come back to church. It's been 3 years! We were sooooo excited to see that they came!!!!!

What else............Debora is doing well, but still can’t come to church because she works. We started teaching Larissa's boyfriend’s family. Larissa was supposed to come, but never arrived, so we taught them, and they really liked it. Leo, the boyfriend and his sister Luisa were fighting over who would get to read the Book of Mormon first! And the other sister Jaqueline wants to come to church!

Sister Fortes is amazing. I love her. And she's hilarious. The sisters made me a poster for my 5 month anniversary in the field! I’ll send a picture if there's time. 

Alrighty my time is up, but I’ll talk to you next week! I love you super much, and am so grateful for your love and prayers, especially for my investigators. I know there is power in prayer, and I have seen it for sure this week, and all throughout my mission. I pray for you guys daily and miss you oodles, but am loving this work, and this unique opportunity I have to serve the Lord. Thank you so much for allowing me to have this opportunity to come on a mission. Love you Mom! Love you Dad! There are handwritten letters coming your way soon!

Love you all and hope you're safe, healthy, happy and following the Lord wherever you are! 

Until next week!

Sister Hicken


Happy 5 Months in the Field Sister Hicken!



Monday, February 10, 2014

And behold, SHE WAS A TOMATO.


February 10, 2014
Monday

The weekly email I was writing got erased, so I’ll have to write a quick one again. Last week was really good!!!!  I was almost done with my email telling you guys all about it when the internet crashed and erased it.  It's not even in the drafts.  Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  But it was a great week.  We worked our guts out, and marked the baptism of one of our investigators, Sheila. She is super duper elect! We marked her baptism for the 23rd  of February.  She is seriously amazing. In our second lesson, she brought another friend to hear.  She had told her all about us. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and the Spirit was so strong! She went to an activity Friday and LOVED it. Everything we teach her makes so much sense to her. She is devouring the Book of Mormon, already in 1 Nephi 12, and is really excited to be baptized. She is THE golden investigator haha. The only thing is that she didn't go to church yesterday. Ghahhhh. We arranged for a member to pick her up and everything but she had just woken up. We told her she could still come late, but she didn't make it. I would love it if you guys could pray for her!

We are hoping to mark Vitoria and Rayza’s baptisms for the same day as Sheila. Vitoria went to São Paulo this week, and they both weren't able to come to church this week. Gahhhhh. But we're going to meet with them this week and mark their baptism!!!! Keep praying for them!

Here’s a bit of what I wrote before:

Hola!

Rosinha came to church finally!!!!!! We were so excited!!!!!!  We have lots of investigators with potential right now.  We're really being blessed for our work.

This week was super cold and rainy. Yes. Cold and rainy in BRASIL. I wore my raincoat one day. And I learned an important lesson. Which would be best conveyed through scripture:

Book of Sister Hicken, Chapter 1:1-6

1  And it came to pass in the 3rd year in the reign of Presidente Lanius, that much rain did fall upon the land Gravatá.
2  Yea it did rain exceedingly, in the land of Gravatá.
3  And it came to pass that Sister Hicken said unto Sister Fortes, "Behold the great clouds that do hide the sun, and behold the rains. Let us cover ourselves with raincoats and umbrellas that we may not perish because of wetness."
4  And thus they did accordingly. And behold Sister Hicken did not think to apply sunscreen for behold, yea verily, it was the coldest, rainiest, cloudiest day in the 3rd year of the reign of Presidente Lanius.
5  And it came to pass that they did go out unto the people and did preach the gospel to the nations.
6  And it came to pass that when they did return unto their house, Sister Hicken did cast her eyes roundabout into the mirror, and began to fear and tremble exceedingly. For she did behold that SHE WAS A TOMATO. Yea the redness was exceedingly great thereof, like unto a tomato. And it came to pass that Sister Fortes did laugh her to scorn.


Okay, I’m running out of time. But seriously. I GOT SO BURNED!!!!!! And this was on the coldest, rainiest day of my time in Gravatá. And I am beet red!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sister Dana calls me Kentucky Fried Hicken. Or KFSister. Seriously guys, I feel like Captain Amazing, from  Mystery Men  AFTER the electric chair.  I have pictures.

Okey doke.  I have to go, but I’ll send a picture. I have one you can put on the blog.  Yeah it’s lovely. It’s already peeling.

Tell dad no, we do not have air conditioning. Just 2 fans, and a bunch of windows, but it’s not bad. We get a lot of wind here. None of the houses have air conditioning either. Just the church. And just the chapel. The chapel is freeeeezing and the rest of the rooms are pretty stuffy. 
Gotta go, but I love you.  And yes. We get Liahonas every month or so, sometimes English, sometimes Portuguese.  Love you muito!!!!!!  Thank you for all your love and prayers and support! :)

Love you! until next week!

Sister Hicken

Sister Tomato:  "Seriously?  I forgot the sunscreen for ONE DAY!"


Monday, February 3, 2014

New Investigators, Floop's Fooglies, and the Staircase of Death


February 3, 2014
Monday



Hello everyone! Happy February! Hope this month will be a little warmer for everyone. Except us in Recife. We don’t need any more heat. I’ll try and send some your way :)

This week had several ups and downs. Last p-day was cool because we went up to Cruzeiro and took pictures in the morning. In the afternoon, we baptized our house of horrors. We cleaned EVERYTHING. I can’t tell you how many spiders I killed. It was tough work, but our house is so much lovelier now. It’s still very special. (Like we have to dump water in the toilet with a bucket to flush), but it’s clean. After that we had 2 lessons that night. Debora and then Sheila. Both amazing women. Debora is a single mom with two kids. She works a ton, including Sundays so that will be a challenge. But she’s fantastic. Sheila is a 60-something grandma who lives alone, and teaches elementary school. We taught her for the first time, and she accepted everything, and when we invited her to pray and read the Book of Mormon, she was really excited and said she had to do it that night! She’s only free on Mondays so we’re teaching her again tonight. We’re praying that she felt the spirit and will accept our invitation to be baptized!

We found an elect family this week. They were a reference from a family in the other ward. We tried several times to contact them but they were never home, until Thursday! We taught Rosangela and her daughter Monize and the grandma Carmen. At the end, Rosangela’s husband, Fernando arrived. And they also have another daughter who wasn’t there:  Bruna. (Bruna is 16 and Monize is 20-something)  Rosangela loved what we taught, and felt the spirit very strongly. She thanked us over and over for not giving up and finally managing to talk with them. And afterwards, when we were leaving she ran after us to ask us to pray for her daughter who is far from God right now. We were humbled that she trusted us so much to tell us that, and to have faith that we could help. We returned on Sunday, and had planned to teach the entire family, but it ended up just being her. But we taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she understood everything and asked some really good questions. It went really well. She didn’t accept the invitation to be baptized yet, but that’s okay, we’ll get there. She really wants us to help Monize, and we feel like if we can help her, the whole family will follow. Pray for them!

We had a cool experience with Rosinha this week. We talked with her again about the importance of going to church, but this time I felt the Spirit guiding me. She said several times that she just didn’t have the will to go, and she wouldn’t go until she felt it. She knows it’s important, but still didn’t want to. We talked a while, and towards the end I felt prompted to ask her what she would do if Christ were here, and extended his hand to her and invited her to follow him. The spirit was very strong, and she said, "Wow. Now it’s powerful. I would follow him". I then told her that it was the same with us inviting her, because we were called as representatives of Jesus Christ and through us he is inviting her to come back to him. I don’t remember much else of what was said, but the Spirit was definitely there. 

I think the thing I’m learning most here is how much the Lord loves his children. I could feel that love when we talked with Rosinha, and I feel it for so many of his children here. It is a unique and wonderful experience to be able to be an instrument in his hands. There have been many times when we visited with an investigator, or this week with Rosa, and they said we came at just the right time. And that’s when we can say that it wasn’t us. It was the Lord. It shows how much the Lord loves them, that he sent his servants there to lift and strengthen them. 

I love you all and hope you are having a wonderful week! I know this gospel is true and that it is the only way to find true and lasting happiness in this life and the next! :)

Love,
Sister Hicken

Finally I can send pictures! This is Cruzeiro, the highest point in Gravatá. It’s a giant hill with a Catholic church on top, and a statue of the Cristo Redentor, like Rio, except smaller. It’s beauuuutiful. We hiked up there last p-day (and almost every day of the week because we have investigators there). This photo is really cool because to the left it was all sunny and bright, but on the right you can see a storm coming in. everything in the picture is our area.
 


 
The Cristo Redentor


Brasil!
 [Editor's Note...look at her feet.  No.  She's not wearing shoes...those are her tan lines from her shoes.]





Eu e Sister fortes! 





This picture is kind of cool, except for the fact that Sister Rodrigues looks like one of Floop’s Fooglies. [If you look close, Sister Rodrigues has 3 eyes...panorama shots are awesome!]



A Escada de Felicidade, or the Staircase of Happiness. Not sure why it’s called that. We call it the Escada de Morte, or the Staircase of Death. Seriously,  no one arrives at the top of that thing smiling.