Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baptism by Candlelight

July 30, 2014

BATIIIIIIIIISMOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Guys, the best baptism of my life this week. Here is an excerpt of my letter to President:

"This week has been incredible! Our investigator, Rose, was finally baptized! It has been quite the fight for her to quit smoking, but she finally did it, and was baptized on Saturday, along with 2 other women from the other sisters. The power went out in the chapel just before the baptism at 5, so we set up some chairs in the parking lot, and had the baptism by candlelight. But it was actually very neat. It brought a different, more reverent spirit to the baptism. The Spirit was very strong. And Rose was so happy. I couldn't stop smiling. "

I am so so so proud of Rose. She really understands the covenant of baptism, and has the sincere desire to serve the Lord for the rest of her life. She is such an amazing example to me. Also, she says thank you for all the prayers. I told her she has people all over the world praying for her :) So yes, she was baptized on Saturday, by candlelight. We had prayed all week that these women would be able to feel the Spirit strongly at their baptism and that they would always remember that day and what they felt. Well, it was a baptism they will never forget. But it was exactly what we and they needed. She was confirmed yesterday, along with Fabiana and Pamela. In one year, she and Tony could be sealed as a family (Tony is her son, not her husband). AHHH! :)))

We are going to the temple today. That’s why I’m 2 days late, cuz our pday was switched to today. It’ll be that way next week too haha, cuz our zone will go. So expect me on Wednesday. It's Sister Marques' last week! Next week is transfers. This past week I had an interview with President Bigelow, and it was sooo fantastic. I love President Bigelow. He reminds me a lot of Dad. He is so inspired, and said exactly what I needed. 
Also, everyone was sick this week at home except for me, and I felt strongly that that was as a result of your guys' prayers. Thank you for your prayers. 

Gonna respond to individual emails now, so gonna sign off. But I love you all and thank you thank you thank you for your prayers!

Oh, thank you G & G Harbrecht for your lovely birthday card! I loved what you shared about the Ebenezer stone! So cool! I never knew what that meant. I’m going to translate that article into Portuguese to be able to share :)

Love you all!

Sister Hicken

Batismo!!  Sister Fuoco and Sister Kohtz with their two sisters who got baptized, and Sister Hicken, Rose, and Sister Marques.  Happy Day!

Sister Marques, Sister Hicken, Rose, and her son, Tony

And now for some random pictures from Camille's memory card.  Some of these are pretty old.  Enjoy!

I think this got sent because it looks like this candy is Truffles of Nose...
Sister Rocha, Sister Hicken, Sister Fuoco, and Sister Perez at the Recife LDS Temple.

Sister Kohtz and Sister Hicken

Monday, July 21, 2014

Missionary Work is an Emotional Rollercoaster Ride

July 21, 2014

Olá everyone!

Well okay this email is just to you mom, but it's also my email to everyone.  Hi there! I'm here! Sorry about the lack of pictures these past few weeks. My memory card is having a hissy fit, but I figured out how to work around it. I should be able to send pictures today.

I realized that the past few emails I’ve talked about dumb stuff like the World Cup and things in the beginning, which left me with almost no time to talk about the people! So today I’m going to talk about the people first, and if I have time, I’ll add in some dumb stuff. Woohoo!

So this week has been an emotional rollercoaster. Seriously I had one of the saddest and one of the happiest moments of my mission this week. As I told last week, Erick was marked for baptism for this Saturday, and we had marked to follow up with him every day during the week. His only difficulty was gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. All this time that he's been coming to church and meeting with us, he understands what we teach, and he's super integrated in the ward, and is super happy, but says he hasn't felt anything about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I know he's felt the Spirit, and we tried to help him recognize that coming to church, living these commandments, praying reading the scriptures all bring the Spirit, and that there is no better answer than this, but to no avail. All this week I prayed and studied and wracked my brains to find the problem. What more could I do, what was missing, what did he need, what wasn't I doing right? But finally Sister Marques and I felt that we had done everything we could, and it was now his decision, and we couldn't force him. So on Friday we sat down with him, and explained our purpose as missionaries (see Preach My Gospel p.1) and that the next step for him was baptism, and that the decision was now in his hands, and there was nothing more we could do until he decided to be baptized. He thanked us for everything, said he liked the church, but also wanted to see other churches, and decide where he fit in best. We ended with a prayer, and were getting ready to go, when he got serious, and asked if he could talk with us again. We sat down and he started to thank us again for everything we've taught him, but got all choked up. When he was done, I told him the story of how we found him, and that God loved him and heard his prayers, and that these changes that he was experiencing were evidence that this gospel is true. If it weren't true, it would have no power to change anyone. But it is. And it does. Sister Marques and I both felt prompted to mark Alma 32:28-43 for him. He didn't change his mind, (YET!) but he has some things to ponder on. We can't keep meeting with him for now, but the members are following up with him. I am very very sad that he hasn't chosen what I know will be the best decision in his life, but I still have hope that my prodigal investigator will come back soon.

So that was the low point during the week. But on Saturday, we received some fantastic news. We went to visit Rose, and she said that this week she had been smoking only one cigarette per day, and the day before hadn't smoked at all, and wouldn't smoke any more and wanted us to mark a day for her baptism. Sister Marques and I gasped/squealed in unison. We marked for this Saturday! She finally came to church again, and is doing super well! But the enemy does everything in his power to stop us from making good decisions, so please pray that she can be strong, and that everything works out :)

I want you to know that I know that God lives, and I know that Christ is our Redeemer. I know that through his Atonement, we can change. We can become new people; start over again and again and again. We can change even our very natures. It is amazing. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ, and I know they love us infinitely.

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Hicken

The Princess and the Pea

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirts

 Sister Dana, Sister Rodrigues, Sister Hicken, and Sister Fortes

Monday, July 14, 2014

The World Cup is Finally Over...No Fireworks This Week

July 14, 2014

The World Cup has finally come to an end (not even sure who won, was it Argentina or Germany?) and things are back to normal!!!! normal as things can be in Brazil after getting beaten this week by Germany....and then by Holland. 7-1 and then 3-0. Yeah. There were no fireworks this week.

Aside from that, this week went really well! On Monday, we raced around like crazy seeing Sister Perez off, and welcoming Sister Kohtz back to Carpina, as Sister Fuoco's new companion. Then in the evening, Sister Marques and I went to Recife to stay the night for a meeting we had the next morning. We stayed with Sister Kron and Sister Martins.  Sister Dana and Sister Fortes (my friend and my daughter from Gravatá!!!!) were staying the night too, but they didn't know we were coming, so it was fun to see the look on their faces when I walked in :) There was lots of squealing and lots of hugging and laughing and talking. It was so fun to see them again, and get caught up on what's going on in Gravatá. 

The next morning we had a mission council, comprised of all the zone leaders and all the sister training leaders and President and Sister Bigelow. It was such a cool experience. They introduced to us 5 new changes from the First Presidency in missionary work. These changes are small things aimed at strengthening recent converts, and improving retention. Our new goal is not just baptism, but the temple. The missionaries will teach all 5 lessons in Preach My Gospel to investigators before baptism, and will take the initiative in teaching them all again after baptism. There are some other things, but they're very similar. Everyone is very excited about these changes. I think we weren't strengthening our recent converts like we needed to. We are already seeing blessings and changes from following this counsel. It is amazing!!! 

Erick's baptism is officially marked for this Saturday!!!! The whole ward is excited for him :) He's ready. We just pray that his mom and family support him as well. But he already has a built-in family here in the ward. He is already like an active member. Só falta água! (He just lacks the water!)

Guys I'm almost out of time, so next week there will be more updates on Erick and Rose and some new people we're teaching, but thank you for your prayers for them. I really appreciate it. I love these people so so much. 

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!  

Sister Hicken

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 238th Birthday America!

July 7, 2014

Ohhhhh, Say Can You See?...

Happy 238th Birthday to my mother land! I celebrated by singing every patriotic song I could remember from elementary school. I think maybe I appreciated a little bit more my country being away this Independence Day. Yay America!

So this week usual....crazy. Shocker! We saw a lot of miracles this week. The Lord is so good. We found a lot of awesome people this week, but I won't tell about all of them because there isn't enough time. But the highlights of the week-

Tuesday we did a division with Sister Kohtz and her trainee, Sister Araujo. I stayed in Carpina with Sister Araujo. It was neat to be with a greenie again. We visited Rose and it went really well. We talked with her and she is decreasing the cigarettes and reading the Book of Mormon! She is down to one or two per day now. (And on Friday she didn't smoke a single one!!!!!!!!!) Sister Araujo's testimony really touched her; the Spirit was very strong. It was really cool. We followed up with her every day this week, and made chá de cigarro with her on Friday, me and Sister Marques. Chá de cigarro is cigarette tea, where you take the herbs inside the cigarette and boil it like a tea, and it is disgusting. It helps the smoker have disgust for the cigarette, and lose the desire to smoke. It is truly nasty. They taste it and get all grossed out, and then when they go to smoke, they remember the taste, and lose the desire. It helped with Rose. She was progressing really well this week and we marked her baptism for the 12th, but then on Sunday she didn't wake up to go to church. She is truly amazing, it is just going to church, and the smoking that holds her back from being baptized. 

Other miracles: ERICK! He is really progressing. He is making a lot of friends at church, and it is so fantastic to see. And then this Sunday he bore his testimony during testimony meeting. I felt like a proud parent. GUYS I WAS SO HAPPY. It was very sweet. He said what he felt. He did not say "I know this church is true" but he said he's seen how his life has changed from the things he is learning at church and with us. He does not yet know, and doesn't claim to KNOW with certainty, but he believes, and as Elder Holland said, that is enough, to start with. His testimony is growing. It is amazing to watch. And now that he is 18, he doesn't need his parents' signatures to be baptized. GUYS HE'S GONNA BE BAPTIZED!!!!! Keep him in your prayers, that things work out for him to be baptized this Sunday. 

Other miracle, Eduarda. We met her about a month ago, when we talked with her aunt and grandma sitting outside their house. She was sitting next to her aunt super zoned out and they told us that she had tried to commit suicide the night before by taking a ton of pills. She's 13 years old. She's been through a lot. Her mom died, and now she lives with other relatives, her dad lives in Recife, and so do all her siblings. When we visited her aunt and grandma 2 more times, she was not there, but they told us she had asked about us. She had remembered us vaguely. After these 2 visits, we had given up on Maria José and Josilene, the grandma and aunt, but I still wanted to talk with Eduarda again. And finally this week we found her at home. She refused to sit down for the lesson, just stood in the doorway, but when we invited her to go to church, she accepted, and started to talk a little more with us. When we went the next day, she was all ready to go :) At church she was SUPER shy. She hardly talked with anyone. But the moment everyone left and it was just us three, she started talking about how she LOVED church that day, and she had never liked any church so much, and that she felt so happy, and she didn't know why she felt so happy. She was excited for us to visit her again with Roberta, the YW counselor this Thursday. She is amazing. As she is less than 15 years old, she needs to go to church for 3 months and have an adult responsible for her, according to the rules of the mission, but there may be an exception on the 3 month thing, if she continues firm like she is. We will talk with President. Speaking of Presidente, 

We had a special zone conference this week on Thursday to meet Presidente Bigelow and his family! THEY ARE THE COOLEST PEOPLE EVER!!!! The whole mission already LOVES them. Found out that President Bigelow actually didn't speak Portuguese before he was called. He served a Spanish-speaking mission in Chicago, and is a CES Director or something related, and speaks Spanish every day, and didn't know any Portuguese! But his Portuguese is already really really good. I am amazed. And Sister Bigelow spoke in Portuguese too! And their two oldest daughters. They have 3 kids, 2 girls, ages 19 and 15 and one boy with 11 years. The 19 year old is going to BYU (Bethany she lived in Heritage halls last year!). Their situation reminds me a lot of our family (moving to a different country, with a daughter who is staying in the US to go to school) haha. We are very excited to work with this new President. He said he asked Elder Bednar what he would do as a mission president, and he told him he would go out with the missionaries, knock on doors, talk with everyone, and then analyze what is going well, and what needs to be improved, do some trainings, and then go out again with the missionaries. So he said he and Sister Bigelow are going to go on splits with the missionaries! SO COOL! They are truly amazing and exactly what the mission needs at this time. I know they were called by God. 

Sister Perez went home today, and now Sister Kohtz is the new companion of Sister Fuoco! Also, my former companion, Sister Rocha got super super sick, with an infection that spread throughout her body, and has to return home as well. Please pray for her, her condition is very serious. It was a real shock to all of us. 

Other news..............................................hmmmmm...........none that I can think of.........

That's it for today! I know this gospel is true, and is the only way to have our families forever. :) Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Sister Hicken

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

They Like Corn...Lots and Lots of Corn!

June 30, 2014

BOM DIA people!
Happy 4th of July! I will be celebrating with fireworks here, as Brazil will be playing that day.
Okey doke, let's see what happened this week.
Monday and Saturday, Brazil played. When that happens, we have to be home half an hour before the game starts, and if it's at night, we can't go out again. On Saturday it was during the afternoon, so we were able to have another lesson at night. On Tuesday was São João. Forgot to tell about São João. During the entire month of June, they have parties and bonfires and festivals. It's actually really cute, cuz it's basically a harvest festival sort of thing, with square dancing, and corn on the cob and other food made with corn, and lots and lots of corn. They like corn. This holiday is supposedly related to some Catholic saint, but nobody remembers who he is or what he did, they just have parties. The actual holiday was on Tuesday, but they have parties during the entire month.
So it's been an interesting week with these things going on, but we really took advantage of every minute that we could work, and have been seeing the blessings. Remember Rose? She is better than I have ever seen her. When we visited her on Thursday, she said that after our last visit, she had more curiosity to read the Book of Mormon, and told us that she knew she couldn't quit smoking by herself. She had tried and she knew it wouldn't work, so she planned to pray every night, read the Book of Mormon every day, a little bit, and go to church that Sunday. This is what SHE said to US. I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. We are so excited for her. She is down to just 2 cigarettes per day. It is not easy for her. But she is really progressing. Please pray for her! She didn't end up going to church this Sunday, so that was disappointing, but she is reading the Book of Mormon, and doing her best to resist temptation. We talked with her son, Tony, a recent convert, that if he wants his mom to be baptized, he needs to set an example for her, and also have faith that she can change, and help her with this change. It went really well. Our goal is that he can baptize her this Sunday.
Erick turned 18 on Emma's birthday! So he could technically be baptized now without his mom's permission, but we both feel that that would not be wise. We are working and praying for his mom's heart to be softened. Also we are praying to help him gain a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. We have been focusing on the Book of Mormon with him. He came to church this week, and got to see a baptism, so that was cool. He is moving to another state, most likely in August, so if he is going to be baptized, it has to be this transfer! We have faith that it is possible, and are seeking the Lord's guidance on what to do to help him.
I am learning the importance of exact obedience, and seeing and feeling the guidance of the Spirit more in my work these past few weeks. It is incredible how when we do our best, even if we feel inadequate, if we do our absolute best, the Lord works miracles through us, his imperfect servants.
This week we hit 6 months until Christmas! Woo! I got my companions hooked on David Archuleta, but the only music we have of him is Christmas music, (Sister Marques has some songs from the MoTab Christmas concert with him.A!) so it's Christmas every day here.
Ohh! I forgot to tell about the transfers! They were last week. Things stayed the same in Carpina, but we got 4 new sisters in our zone, so thankfully presidente called another set of sister training leaders. Have to go. My time is up, but next time I will tell more about our responsibilities. Also, hug Emma for me and tell her I wish her a fantastic birthday and a Hogwarts letter in the mail ;)

Alrighty I have to go, but I love you all, and hope you have a wonderful week!
Love you muito muito muito!
Sister Hicken

 Sister and Brother Paulsen, Sister Hicken, and Sister Marques

The Paulsens came to Carpina this week to give a fireside on eternal marriage, and me and my companion were part of a musical number that a few of the members put together, so Presidente gave us permission to go. It was so neat to see them!