Monday, August 25, 2014

I'm Old Now: 21!

August 25, 2014

BOM DIA people all over the world! Hope you have had a glorious week. I'm old now. 21. The sisters in our house were so super cute, and made signs and a cake for my birthday :) Also President and his family called to sing Happy Birthday. I feel so blessed to know so many wonderful people here :) It's weird to think of all that's happened in one year. Without a doubt this has been the year that I have grown the most. In many ways (including sideways haha.....ahhhhh Brasil! Curse your delicious food.) But seriously I have changed a lot this past year, and am grateful for all the experiences I am having and the things I am learning here. I know God lives and loves His children, and that He has a plan for us to be able to return to Him. There is only one way, only one plan. We can choose whether or not to follow, but if we want to be happy, and want to have our families forever, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and continue following His commandments our whole life long. 

The other week, Sister Rachel Fuller said something that I totally agree with. She said something along the lines of we as missionaries work all week, follow the Spirit, see people's lives changing (including our own), have hard days and spiritual experiences. So much happens in just one week! And then we get to the computer and don't know how to express it all. That's exactly what it feels like. I'm sorry if my letters are weird sometimes. It's hard to put it all into words. 

Highlights of the week-
We four sisters started a weekly English class at the church, every Saturday at 4, to help find new investigators. Our ward mission leader made these super cool posters, and suggested that we go to some schools and announce it in the classrooms. (You can do that here). I wasn't too excited to go talk in front of a bunch of teenagers. I didn't like high school the first time around. But it was actually kind of fun. We went class to class in 2 schools, and on Saturday had a really good turnout, around 20-30. We taught the basics, and saw that they already know a good amount, so we'll move on to more advanced stuff next time. We offered to give a tour of the chapel to whoever wanted to see it after the class, but no takers. But it's only the first week! We have faith that there are some elect people in our English class.

Not sure if I ever told about Betânia. We met her about a month ago. She wanted help with genealogy,  and so we started to help her construct her family tree. She is a really neat lady, about 60 years old, is fluent in English, and retired. She shared with us how family is really important to her, so we marked a day and taught her about the Plan of Salvation. She found it interesting, but didn't want to commit to come to church or be baptized. She said she doesn't frequent any one religion because she has many doubts about the Bible, seeing as how it was changed many times during the years. And so we said, "We have a message that you will LOVE" haha, and left with her the pamphlet of the Restoration. This week we taught her about it, and it really seemed to resonate with her. We are hoping to mark her baptism today. She is such a neat lady, and we can see how the Lord has prepared her for this time. We are so excited!  Oh, here is an excerpt from my letter to President, with a few more details: 

“In particular, for me, I have been studying and praying and working to teach better. To teach to the needs of my investigators. This happens according to our preparation. The more we prepare, even if we end up changing the lesson plan when we get there, the Spirit can guide us, because we are worthy to receive it. We had a neat experience this week teaching the Restoration to one of our investigators, Betânia. Sister Muñoz and I studied well the first lesson, and practiced teaching it to each other during comp study and made a lesson plan. Then during the lesson, we tried really hard to listen to her and to the Spirit, and follow the promptings we received. We have taught this lady several times, and she has so much potential, but never wanted to commit to anything. This time I could tell she felt the Spirit. She understood and felt the truth of what we shared with her, at least a little bit. And she finally committed to pray and ask God if it is true. Today we are going to invite her again to be baptized, we hope for the 13th of September.” 

I am going to respond to some individual emails now. Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love, Sister Hicken

Monday, August 18, 2014

Howdy from the Forest of the Lions

August 18, 2014

Howdy from Forest of the Lions!

Bit of Carpina history/trivia for you. The original name was Floresta dos Leões, or in other words FOREST OF THE LIONS which is WAY cooler than Carpina. Why they changed it I have no idea. MAYBE BECAUSE THERE ARE ACTUALLY NO LIONS HERE. But from now on I will be using the true name of my querida cidade [beloved city], Floresta dos Leões. Maybe. 

ANYways, this week we worked our tushies off talking with a ton of people, knocking on doors, contacting references, and trying to find new people to teach, also trying to mark our investigators for baptism. We managed to mark the baptism of Ronaldo, that guy who showed up at the end of church last week.

We taught Dominik's mom and sister this week, and it went super well. The mom has been wanting to get baptized in a church for a while but needs to get married or divorced, and both are difficult right now. She was really receptive though, and was all set to come to church with us when something happened last minute. Not sure what, but she wasn't able to come. but we'll keep trying.  Rose said something to me last week that made my day. She thanked me for not giving up on her. She thanked me for sticking with her with the other sisters through all of it. And that gave me a little boost to have a little more faith in my investigators. Sometimes that's all they need. Sometimes that's all people need, is someone who believes in them and cheers them on, even when they don't think they can do it, even when it appears that nothing will change. Elder Scott said something similar in his last General Conference talk. I've only read it in Portuguese so I don't know what the real quote is, but it's something like "the children of God are capable of accomplishing miracles when we put our trust in them." (Mom if you can find the real quote to put on the blog that would be cool :) 

Here is the quote from the talk:
“The children of Father in Heaven can do amazing things when they feel trusted.  Every child of God in mortality chose the Savior’s plan.  Trust that given the opportunity, they will do so again.”
Elder Richard G. Scott, April 2014 General Conference Talk, I Have Given You an Example

This week was a trial of our faith. I think this week was a planting week. We planted a lot of seeds. Hopefully in the coming weeks we can start to harvest the fruits. 

I love Sister Muñoz! I'll try to send a picture next week. She's from Argentina, but everyone always asks her if she's Japanese, or Chinese, or Korean (and others think they're all the same thing haha...). We both know the Lord put us together and are loving working together! She learns fast, and we are doing our very best  :)

Love you all! Hope you have a wonderful week! 

Love,  Sister Hicken :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Exactly 11 Months on the Mission Today!

August 11, 2014

Hello all! 

This will be a short one, there's not a ton to report on and I don't have much time, but to begin with, I received my new companion! Her name is Sister Muñoz, and she's from Argentina. She's 19, and came straight from the MTC de Brasil. She's really awesome, already speaks Portuguese really well, and is ready to learn. We're doing really well together. I'm gonna send an excerpt of my email to President:

''This week has been a crazy one, with transfers and going to the temple, and starting training, but it has been very good. It is incredible to feel the difference between training now, with 11 months, and training with only 4. It is still stressful, and challenging, but I feel much more prepared to teach my trainee, and lead in the area, because I have more experience, just like you said. Sister Muñoz is awesome. She is ready to learn, and likes to participate. Even though she feels nervous sometimes to teach or make a contact, she does it anyways. I am very impressed with that. She doesn't let fear hold her back. She speaks Portuguese very well already, and we are learning and growing together :) Right now we are trying to find new people to teach. We are praying and working for that. But the ward is great, and is giving references, and supporting our recent converts and teaching with us. I have faith that we will be able to find the people the Lord has prepared to hear the gospel. ''

Because of the new missionaries arriving on Tuesday and then temple on Wednesday, we arrived in Carpina late Wednesday night. So the week has been short, but we've worked hard. Saturday night I felt prompted to stop by Dominik one last time (we haven't been able to get a hold of her) and sure enough she was there. We taught her and her sister and her boyfriend about the Restoration, and they paid attention, and Dominik at the end was like "Wow. I have got to pray about this." She read what we marked for her in the Book of Mormon, but hadn't prayed about it, so this time we recommitted her to pray, and we'll see how it goes this Thursday. 

Other cool thing-at the end of church, this kid passed by and asked one brother if it was starting, and he said no it just ended and he started to walk away but the brother had him come in, and chatted with him, introduced him to us, and showed him the church. This kid, Ronaldo, is wanting to follow Christ because he sees that the time is coming for his return. He seemed really receptive. We're going to teach him this week with Bro. Mauricio. 

That's about it for the week! Love you all! Happy Father's Day (here in Brazil haha :) 
Sister Hicken

Gahhhhhhhhhhh!!  It didn't let me send the pictures!!!!! Gahhhh. I have to get this stupid memory card fixed. Grrr. I cannot believe this. I tried to send 4 pics just now and they ALL failed. So sorry, I’m gonna fix this right now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Soundtrack for the Week: Cheesy 80s Song

August 4, 2014

É difícil dizer.....adeus e partir.... 
(It’s hard to say goodbye and leave)

We've been singing that song all week. It's that cheesy 80s song from Together Forever, that church DVD from the 80s. Super, super 80s. But yeah, the song about how it's hard to say goodbye, but we can be together forever! I actually don't know the words in English. But anyways, there have been a lot of goodbyes in Carpina this week! Sister Marques finished her mission, and Sister Fuoco was transferred. And Sister Kohtz and I will be training...again haha! I will receive my greenie tomorrow. I honestly didn't see that coming, but I’m excited, and I know that President Bigelow receives revelation specifically for each missionary. I will go and do! 

Let's see...what all happened this week. Sister Marques was sick on Tuesday, poor thing :( she's better now. Wednesday we went to the temple, and it was lovely. I love, love, love the temple. It was just us and our district leader and his comp because he's also going home this week. Missionaries who haven't been to the temple in 3 months or more and who are going home get to go to the temple their last week. This week is the week of our zone, haha, so I get to go again! 

We met some neat people this week. We have been teaching this 15 year old named Dominik, and had a cool experience with her a couple weeks ago teaching her about the book of Mormon. We invited her to read and pray and ask God as usual, but she said that inviting her to ask God made her really want to read it. She had thought the book was kind of strange, but was intrigued by our invitation, and said she would read and pray. We hadn't been able to get a hold of her this week, but one day found her mom, who also has potencial! Their only difficulty is coming to church. It is so hard to get people to come to church. But when we do our part, the Lord works miracles. Vamos lá!

Sister Fuoco and Sister Kohtz invited one of their investigators who plays guitar to play a special number for their baptism this week, and asked me to sing too. We sisters worked out something really cool. The words to Praise to the Lord in Portuguese fit perfectly with the tune to "Hallelujah", so we worked out an arrangement, and I sang it with their investigator on the guitar. It was SO COOL. Also, they gave him the music to Come Thou Fount, and he worked out an arrangement super fast, and we four sang that with him on the guitar. After the baptism, we recorded both, and I have them, but they're too big to send. It’ll have to wait 8 more months. Haha, but it was very, very cool. 

Ummmm I think that's about it. This week is gonna be crazy. We’re staying in Recife until Wednesday. 

Mom, sorry my time is up, I will respond to questions next week. Forwarded some pictures, hope they went through. 

Love you all very much. I know the Lord lives and loves us, and answers our prayers. 

Love, Sister Hicken

Mission Leadership Council with new mission President Bigelow and Sister Bigelow

Last Conference with President and Sister Lanius