Monday, April 28, 2014

Return of Fernanda the Demon Lizard...It's All Good Now

April 28, 2014

I don't quite know how to describe this week. Fantastic, crazy, miraculous, exhausting, humbling would be a start. I learned some lessons this week. And saw a lot of miracles :)

So last week I told how the first counselor in the bishopric cancelled the baptism of Marilia, Carlinhos and Camila on the hour. Sister Rocha and I were pretty devastated. I was feeling angry, hurt, offended and frustrated and sad. And I knew the Spirit was not with me. I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help me forgive him, and take away the anger that I was feeling, through the power of the Atonement. Sister Rocha did the same. We felt better by the end of Sunday, but still not completely whole. 

Tuesday we had marked with him to go visit the family, and we were both feeling a little apprehensive. We didn't really want to go, but we knew it was necessary. We arrived, and greeted him, and I was surprised to find that I wasn't feeling angry or resentful. I felt completely calm. We all walked to Vilma's house together, and we talked about the ward, and he was very nice and helpful. We visited with Vilma. Her kids weren't home, but we talked with her. She said her kids were really sad and she wasn't sure if they would still want to be baptized. Irmao Smith (names have been changed, haha) talked with her, and offered all the help and support and love of the ward, and was very kind. When we left, she was feeling much better. The Spirit was strong. It was amazing. We left that day with the feeling that we were all fighting on the same team, and not against one another. It was amazing. I have never felt so strongly the power of the Atonement in my life. I know that it would not have been possible for me to forgive so quickly and completely on my own. It was truly a miracle of the Atonement. In place of hurt and resentment was love and understanding. That week we were able to remark their baptism for Sunday evening, and we asked Irmao Smith if he would baptize them. He accepted. Other things happened this week that made the baptism almost not happen (for example: the first time the district leaders came to do the interview, only one kid was there, so the next day the zone leaders had to come and do the other two, AN HOUR before the baptism. And then the parents said they weren't going to be able to come, but then changed their minds, thankfully. The stress was UP TO MY EYEBALLS!!!!) but everything worked out. Marilia and Camila and Carlinhos were so excited. It was one of the happiest moments of my mission walking with them and their little sister Thais, and Vilma and Junior, and Sister Rocha and the elders to the church for the baptism. They were so happy and excited, and full of love. I LOVE this family so so so much. The baptism was beautiful. The Spirit was strong, and a lot of members came to support them, and the kids were so happy, my heart just about burst :) 

Other cool things that happened this week: Roberto, who surprised us by coming to church last week, is really progressing. He stopped gambling (before we even talked about it!), and is studying the scriptures and praying, and making changes in his life. He is very excited to follow Christ. He came to stake conference this week, which was a sacrifice for him because he had to close his store, and we all had to travel an hour by omnibus to get there. But he had faith that the Lord would bless him for his sacrifice. His amazing example of faith strengthens my testimony. He will be baptized this Friday (if the scheduling works out. Pray that it does!). 

In other news, Fernanda the demon lizard returned again. But we're too tired to chase her out, so she just lives in our house now. We established some rules (like no sneaking up on us in the shower, etc.), and she's housetrained, and willing to pay rent, so it's all good now. 

I got a package from the Easter Bunny!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  I laughed at the Easter grass hahaha, and already ate all the Reese’s pieces eggs with my companions. Thank you thank you for the socks. I am always needing socks. I shared my spoils with the family we baptized, and the elders and my companions. It brought much joy to many :) and THANK YOU FOR THE PICTURES!!!!!  I loved loved loved the pictures :))))) I had not seen those pictures of my setting apart. So cute all the pictures!  We’re going to dye Easter eggs today. We’re all very excited :))) I’ll send pictures!!! 

I love you guys and thank you for your love and prayers and support and letters! I know this gospel is true, and I know the Atonement is real, and we need it in our lives every day. 

Love, Sister Hicken

Baptism!!!! Vilma, the mom, is on the left with Sister Rocha. Marilia is the tallest, and then Camila and then Carlinhos, and Thais is the youngest. Elder Kirk on the left, and Elder Hanna on the right. Our awesome zone leaders from the Shire haha. Oh, and Irmao Smith, who performed the baptism.

My Brazilian siblings :)   Sister Rocha, Carlinhos, Marilia, Me, and Camila.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shynoflompla: The Word of the Week...And Also Revenge of the Demon Gecko

April 21, 2014

Shynoflompla. Try that one out. It's the word of the week.

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you had a lovely week and a lovely Sunday. 

This week was crazy. I didn't have a chance to make a list of things that happened this week like I usually do, so I hope I can remember everything. Let's see....

This apartment has 3 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, a room used just for the closet, and 2 storage rooms and a laundry room. It is like a castle for missionaries! 

Monday, P-day, our power went out for half the day, meaning no fan and no fridge, and so it was super hot and we were dying and then Sister Rocha and Sister Fuoco were like "vamos tomar banho de roupa!" which means everyone gets in the shower with clothes on and sprayed each other with cold water. It was super fun, and just what we needed. And then it started raining outside, and the sun was setting and there was a rainbow, and the power came back and it was great :) I have pictures that I will try to send. 

Oh also, when Sis. Rocha and I got back from our lesson that night, we found a demon gecko in our house. This gecko has apparently been banished several times and somehow always finds its way back. So I tried to chase it out the window with a broom, but it wasn't working, and we were both squealing, and Sis. Rocha tried to move her books out of the corner so we could get at him with the broom but she accidentally tipped the area book over and squashed him, and we thought he was dead, but then his tail was still wriggling, and it was really gross. And then he still tried to run away, and so then we tried to trap him with a broom and dustpan and dump him out the window, but Sis. Rocha got freaked out that he was going to crawl up her arm, and dropped the dustpan and ran squealing and laughing and freaking out from the room. After a couple minutes later, she came back, calmer.  The demon gecko was still in our house, and somehow he got tangled in hair on our broom, so I was able to lift him out the window and he seemingly fell to his death. Or did he???? Nope! Just like Elvis and Dumbledore, he survived! And visited us again last night. But this time Sis. Perez swept him out. Sis. Fuoco wanted to kill him with scissors but we wouldn't let her. ANYways, 

This week a member, Vilma, who has been asking for about a month now, asked us again to baptize her three kids, Marilia, Camila and Carlinhos. 13, 12 and 10. They went to Primary for years but were never baptized. We were concerned about them staying firm, so had hesitated to baptize them, but finally decided to talk to bishop about it because who are we to deny someone who wants to follow Christ? Bishop gave his authorization, through the phone because he's travelling, and we went to go visit the family (they live in the BOONIES. or as they say here, "where Judas lost his boot" super super far.). They are the cutest kids I have met on my mission. They LOVE us, and they were sooo excited to be baptized, and are really smart. We would teach a principle, and then they would have a million questions. Good questions too. I was amazed. Saturday they were interviewed, and passed with flying colors, and we spent the whole week preparing everything for the baptism. All the members knew and everything was set. Sunday was crazy. I had to give a talk, we had to run and pick up 3 investigators, (3 young women who accepted the invitation to be baptized!) and then call the others who hadn't come yet, and in the midst of all the craziness, we had a surprise investigator who came, Roberto. (He is really interested and really awesome, but didn't want to commit to come to church because he would have to close his store. we had done everything we could to help him but ultimately the decision was his, and it didn't look like he was going to come. but then he came!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it was one of the best moments of my mission so far). We hardly were in the meetings at all, because we were waiting for investigators, running around like crazy. And then the baptism was scheduled for noon, so we were getting everything set, people were waiting, the font was filled, and then the first counselor called us into the bishop's office, and told us he wanted to cancel the baptism, because he hadn't given his authorization, and they needed to come to church at least 3 months, and he actually doesn't have the priesthood keys to do that, which the second counselor and the Ward Mission Leader knew, but they went with it because he was the leader and they needed to support him. I don't want to rehash all the drama of yesterday, but it was a crazy day, and we are trying to put it behind us and work with the bishop to find a solution. Thankfully he returns today. BUT, 

Other miracles during the week, Rose, not sure if I already told about her, but she is quitting smoking! We love her and her son Tony, a recent convert, so much. They are fantastic. 

Monday we briefly met a man as we were leaving a lanchonete (a little mini open restaurant that has like hamburgers and ice cream and stuff), but didn't say anything about the gospel, just that we were missionaries. (He had looked at our tags and read the name of our church and asked us about it) and afterwards we felt sooo bad. We hadn't done our job as representatives of Jesus Christ. So we prayed that week to be able to find him again. And Saturday, when we went back, he walked in!!!! We were so excited. We had the chance to talk with him. It turns out he owns the lanchonete, and is super nice, but doesn't actually live here. But we invited him to church and told him about our work as missionaries. He seemed pretty interested, but we can't visit him at the present as he lives in another city (that's still in our area, but is suuuuper far away), but if he comes to church and shows potential, we could get authorization. 

This week, notwithstanding our frustration and disappointment, I just felt so happy. I love being a missionary. I love that my job is to help people come closer to Christ, and to serve. I love learning to be more like my Savior. I love my investigators. I love the ala Carpina. I love Brasil. I love my companion. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. I have learned more than ever what we mean when we tell our investigators that "prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father". I know that's true. He listens and He answers. I love all my family and my friends. And I know the Lord is watching over you. I know this gospel is true. 

Have a wonderful week. 

Sister Hicken

P.S.   Thank you for the letters from the Chelsea YW!!!!!!!! They made my week! I love you girls!!!!! :D

  The sunset on one side of our house, storm in the middle, and a little corner of a rainbow on the other side.

Banho de roupa!!!!! Sister Perez is the one at the bottom making the weird face, and Sister Fuoco is above her, and then me and Sister Rocha. I'm living in a house of Brazilians. It's been an adventure, haha.

This week we made almoço (lunch) with Rose and Tony. I love these people! Rose is an elementary school teacher, and is quitting smoking to be baptized! Tony is her son. He teaches a PE class I think. He loves American football, and was baptized a month or so ago. We hope he'll serve a mission! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Apparently I look like Avril Lavigne

April 14, 2014

Ola Familia!

Sister Rocha ROCKS!
It's funny because her name means rock in Portuguese. Haha I crack myself up. 


This week was fantastic! Sister Rocha is amazing, and we worked a ton this week. Our area is pretty big, but it's new, so we are working closer to home right now, and as time goes by we'll explore more areas further away from home. We live with Sisters Perez and Fuoco, all 3 from São Paulo. It's us four in one ward. The ward has a super tiny building, but the members are amazing. We had a member go on visits with us almost every day this week. It was like a dream come true! I love this area, and the members and the investigators. Also there are virtually no hills in this area, which I thank the heavens for every day. 

This week we taught several really awesome people. One of them was Joao, a 19-year-old kid who lost both his parents within months of each other. He has had such a hard life, but has tried to stay positive through it all and always act in a way that would make his parents proud. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted! We are so excited for him. He wasn't able to come to church this week, so his baptism will most likely be in 2 weeks. I'll keep you updated. 

We also had Edmilsom, a 50-year-old father who was taught by the missionaries years ago. He saw the sisters walking one day, and went and talked to them. We met with his daughter and wife and later he himself. He told us that he wants to be baptized! We are hoping to mark him and his daughter for baptism on the same day, and then later the mom. The mom injured her foot and can't walk for a while, so she'll take a little longer, but the whole family is fantastic. The parents are legally married, and have no problems with drinking or smoking, or anything! 

I also met Rose, the mom of a recent convert, Tony. She is fantastic. She knows she needs to be baptized, but has a smoking addiction. We're going to make goals with her this week to quit. 

We worked like crazy this week, and were disappointed when no one came to church, even the people whose houses we went to to walk with them.  But we did our best, and we know the Lord is seeing our efforts. Miracles happen according to our faith, obedience, and hard work. 

In other news, I had 2 more members tell me I look like Avril Lavigne, and one of them took a picture with me, haha. And for the first time this week someone thought I was Brazilian because of my Portuguese!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have no idea how thrilled I was. I try soooo hard to speak correctly, with correct grammar and pronunciation, and so that was kind of neat. 

I fell off my chair yesterday and landed on my finger. It hurt. 

Our house is huge, for missionaries anyways. I loooove it. 

Hope you all have a Happy Easter, and take time to remember the Savior and His sacrifice for you, personally.

Congratulations to Owen on his mission call!  ¡Hablas español!

I’m sending a picture now, but it's taking for ever and I have to go so it'll be the only one this week :( Sorry!!! Next time I’ll try loading pictures in the beginning. And I took pictures of all your questions and will answer every one. Also, how cool that you have a Recife visa waiter in your ward!!!!! Be sure to let me know when she leaves, so I can keep an eye out for her!!!!!!!!! :D

Love you oodles mom, and hope you guys have a Happy Easter! Eat some egg salad for me! 
Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love, Sister Hicken

Sister Rocha and on the right, Casper, a.k.a. White and Nerdy,  a.k.a. the Phantom of the Opera,  a.k.a. Sister Pilar de Luz. (Which Sister Rocha started calling me, by the way, WITHOUT me telling her that was my nickname in Gravatá. Hahaa....)

Monday, April 7, 2014

I've been transferred! Ola from Carpina!

April 7, 2014

Ola from Carpina!!

Yep. I've been transferred! And Sister Fortes is going to train a new missionary! I'm so excited for her; I know she'll be fantastic. But I'll miss her! I learned SO MUCH from Sister Fortes, and I hope to be able to visit with her again after the mission. 

I am now in Carpina, a city about an hour and a half out of Recife. I'm in the interior again! It is less hot than Recife, thank goodness. My new companion is Sister Rocha!!! She is from São Paulo, has one year on the mission, and is a super hard worker. I am so excited to work with her :) The area and the people are fantastic from what she's told me, and the ward works really well with the missionaries. We have several people with potential for baptism this week. I'm so excited!!! OH also this transfer is only going to have 5 weeks instead of 6, not sure why. 

Anyhoodle, this last week in Gravatá, we worked like we never have before. Oh crap, Adele just came on the radio. NOOOOO! Musica do mundo!!!!! Nononononono! Gahhhh focus. Okay. Anyways, yeah we worked like crazy this week, hitting all of our daily goals, and looking for new people to teach, and getting Maria ready for baptism, and fasting for Andreia. That was the best part. Knowing that I did my absolute best this week. Because this week was pretty discouraging. Maria was progressing really well, but when we went to her house to walk with her to church, she wasn't home and didn't answer the phone, Andreia bailed on our lesson with a member....and so did the member. None of our pesquisadores were able to come to General Conference. And we're having difficulties with the area. We didn't know if I would be transferred, or if I would stay, or if both of us would go. It was a stressful week. BUT we worked our absolute hardest, and I know the Lord is watching over us. And His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways, and I know all of this has a purpose. And I find joy in this work when I'm doing my absolute best, even if it doesn't seem in the moment like it's making a difference. I know it is, and I know this gospel is true, and that's why it's hard sometimes, because it's true. 

Watching conference in Portuguese was really interesting. I was able to understand most of it. It was amazing. I love love love conference. I can't wait to read the talks in the Liahona. Every time I hear these inspired leaders speak, it just strengthens my testimony of this restored gospel. It is almost impossible to listen to President Monson and not feel the Spirit testify that he is a prophet of God. 

I got the call about transfers in between sessions on Sunday, and had the chance to say good-bye to everyone. It was very hard to say good-bye to many of the members. I have come to love this ward so much, and I am so grateful for the love and acceptance that they showed me over these past few months. I grew so much in Gravatá. I feel like a completely different person. (But in a good way. And don't worry. I still quote Star Wars and stuff so you'll still recognize me, mom). 

I think that's about it for now! I'm gonna try and send some photos now. Hope you are all safe and sound! I love you all and pray for you!

Love, Sister Hicken

[Editor's Note:  She wasn't able to send any pictures this week.  The internet connection was too slow.  Hopefully next week!]