Tuesday, September 30, 2014

T-MINUS 5 DAYS UNTIL GENERAL CONFERENCE!! WOOHOOO!!


September 29, 2014
Monday

GEEEENTEEEE!!!!!! CAMILLA FOI BATIZADA!!!!!!! :DDDDD  [People!! Camilla was baptized!]
Also I learned how to spell her name this week-with two Ls. Like me!

But yeah, she was baptized on Saturday!!!! And it was soooo lovely. A bunch of her family came, including her mom, Carla, who also came to church yesterday! Everything worked out well (though the prep was very stressful with some miscommunications between members, but everything worked out!) and she was confirmed on Sunday. 10 minutes after being confirmed, she was sustained as Beehive class president! Hahaha! She is such a cutie, and we love her so much :) She invited a friend to her baptism, and this friend, who has also been to other church activities told us she also wants to be baptized! We are just thrilled with these amazing young women and their examples. It's amazing, because when I got here, there was one active young woman, and now we're finding and teaching and reactivating so many amazing girls! A new young women's presidency was called, and they are bringing so much life to the YW class, and visiting with us. I am soo excited.
One night this week, we felt prompted to stop by Dominik's house. We hadn't had a chance to meet with her yet after coming to church. We found her at home, for the first time in weeks, and she said she LOVED church, and felt the Spirit so strongly during the sacrament and felt so welcomed by the members. We sat down and talked and she said more about how she loved church and is reading the Book of Mormon, and knows it's the word of God, that it's not false, but was afraid to pray about it because she knew God would tell her it was true, and it was scary for her to think about the possibility of other scripture beyond the Bible. Also there are a lot of people criticizing the church and the Book of Mormon, saying all sorts of things to her, but she sees that what they're saying isn't true. So the next night when we had a lesson with her, we felt we needed to talk about faith. We shared the story of Jairus, how his daughter died, and Jesus told him not to fear, only believe. He said that the girl was not dead, just sleeping, and the people laughed him to scorn. And yet, even with their friends and family mocking and disbelieving, Jairus and his wife chose to believe in the words of the Master, and because of their faith He was able to work a miracle, and bring their daughter back to life. We talked about the importance of having faith, not fear, and trust in the Lord, not men. And she started to cry and opened her heart to us. She said that she feels our love, and Heavenly Father's love at church and when we meet, and that though she doubted a lot at first, those barriers are falling down, and she feels so different, so good. The Spirit was very strong, as we listened and talked, and she accepted the invitation to be baptized on October 11th! It was amazing. We were so thrilled. We are praying very hard that everything will go well, and she will be able to be baptized on this day. After that lesson, we had another appointment marked with her, but she couldn't make it, and we haven't been able to get ahold of her since. Please pray for her and her family, especially that they will be able to come to church this week!
Speaking of which....
T-MINUS 5 DAYS UNTIL GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We’re excited.
Eder is progressing. We had another lesson with him this week about the Restoration. It went well. He needs to come to church, which is tricky, because of work, but we'll help him get there. Also, now he's living in Limoeiro, so he needs to start meeting the missionaries and members there. But our District leader said when he's here in Carpina, we can still teach him. He's always back and forth between Limoeiro and Carpina.
Aaaaannnnnd that's about it. Oh here's an excerpt from my letter to president. I'm learning a lot about charity this week:


This week in Carpina went well in some aspects, and others we want to improve.  The highlights of the week were Camilla’s baptism, and being able to mark the baptism of another young woman named Dominik.  We love them both so much and know they will be powerful servants of the Lord.  We are already teaching Camilla’s mom, and hope to mark her for baptism today.  We are teaching Dominik’s family as well.  We noticed this week that we were having a lot of difficulty finding new people to teach.  We noticed that we were teaching when finding and finding when teaching, but that for one reason or another, we didn’t or couldn’t mark a specific date to return, thus preventing them from being classified as a new investigator.  One of these reasons, I realizes as I studied today, was that I was seeing these people as they were, and not as they could become.  I wasn’t loving them enough, having enough charity, and therefore not marking another lesson because I didn’t think they would progress.  We made some goals, and studied together and made a plan to follow up with every new person we teach at least once, have at least one more lesson with them before we decide to continue or not, and really work to show our love and the Savior’s love for them.

Love and beijos [kisses] from Brasil! Happy October! :D
Love, Sister Hicken



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

So This Week Was a Mixed Bag


September 22, 2014
Monday

So this week was a mixed bag. We are thrilled with Camila's progress, and are planning her baptism for this week (It was gonna be on Saturday, but now looks like it will have to be on Sunday because of building cleaning issues. But it will still happen this week. *To self* just breathe. Just breeeathe). She is very excited!
Other cool thing was our lesson with Eder this week. Not sure if I told about him before, but he was a contact that we made on the street who came to a church activity. He's been looking for the church that is closest to the truth for years now. We had a lesson with him with Bro. Maurício, and taught him about the Book of Mormon. He had a ton of questions, but they were sincere, inquiring questions, not aimed at debating, but understanding. He fully intends to be baptized if he truly feels that it is true. He had other questions about the Trinity, and I can't remember what else, but the restored doctrine really resonated with him. He also came to our English class, and has already read what we marked for him in the Book of Mormon, just needs to pray and ask about it. We are sad because he is moving to Limoeiro, another city about half an hour from here. But for now, he is still living here in Carpina, so we'll continue to teach him for a while longer.
Cristina and Dominik came to church this week! A mother and daughter that we've been visiting for a while (always someone different was home haha, and the other daughter has already been to church). We were so excited. When we visited them this week, I felt impressed to emphasize the invitation to come to church. They are passing through some very hard trials right now, and I felt impressed to tell them that Heavenly Father had answers and blessings waiting for them if they came to church. It seemed like all the talks and lessons were focused on their needs this week. It was incredible. We're excited to go back this week and hear what they thought.
We lost or are losing several investigators this week :( Dalva will be moving likely to the other sisters' area, Eduarda is moving to another city, and Eriwelton has no desire to learn more about the gospel :( faca no coração! [knife in the heart] :( But so it goes. We continue to pray that they'll be able to be baptized.
SOOO EXCITED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s fantastic, because our investigators who are not able to come to church on Sunday morning have 3 other times that they can come and visit, and hear the PROPHET speak! How can you hear the prophet of the Lord speak and not feel the Spirit testify that this Church is true? Quase impossível. [Almost impossible]
In other news, I had to scoop out a dead cockroach from a cup in our sink the other day with a fork, and put it in the trash. For reals. I have picture evidence. Also, the other day I killed a tiny spider with my hand. Dad, I hope you're proud of me :)
Love you all, and hope you have a wonderful week! :)
Sister Hicken




Monday, September 15, 2014

I've Been Out On My Mission For a Year Now!


September 15, 2014                        Monday
Hi mom!
I got the garments and taffy and socks yesterday! Sooo happy!!!!! Thank you soooooooooooooo much. And I have to say...my favorite part may have been the Duck Dynasty card. Hahahahahaha Awwwwww. Sister Evans is also a Duck Dynasty fan. We tried to explain the premise of the show to Sister Muñoz, but it's hard to make it sound cool in Portuguese. But we giggled over the card.  :)
Haha, I’ll think about Christmas ideas. I feel weird asking for more stuff after just getting packages this week. Also, as Christmas will fall 2 months before I go home, there's not much I’ll be needing. Ooooh, that reminds me, last p-day I had some awesome souvenir finds for you :D I was very excited. But I’m not going to tell what it is. You’ll have to waaaaaiiiit!

Transfers are today. I was praying that I would be able to stay in Carpina, and I stayed!!!! I'm so happy. I love this ward, and this area, and Sister Muñoz. I'm so happy to be able to stay a little while longer. It will almost probably be my last transfer here though. I have until October 26th.
This week went well. We had Stake Conference, which was soooo good. We even had 2 investigators there, which was fantastic considering the distance. Stake conference is always a challenge for members and investigators because it's in Camaragibe and we have to go by bus. It's about an hour away, and some can't manage the time or expense. But there were quite a few people there from our ward this time, which was awesome! The theme was Accelerate the Work, and Pres. and Sister Bigelow came, as well as a [Brazilian Area] Seventy, Elder Torgan (?) never saw his name written out. But the talks were amazing. We are excited and so is the ward, to work together to strengthen the new members and find the people that the angels are preparing.

Excerpt from my letter to president-

"It was so great to have you and Sister Bigelow at our Stake Conference this week! We loved your talks and are excited to help the members even more with missionary work, during almoços [lunches], and using Preach My Gospel. Our ward is becoming more animada [lively] with missionary work. We had a great Ward Council yesterday in which we discussed where the angels are working (part of a talk from Elder Torgan (?) of the [Area] Seventy that was there. This was a talk he gave to the priesthood leaders, in which he challenged them to fast and pray to be able to tell the missionaries where the angels are preparing people to accept the gospel. It was pretty incredible).

We hit a rough patch with our investigator Marcelo this week. He was set for the 21st for baptism, and then his mom changed her mind and banned him from all church activities. He's 18 and could technically be baptized, but his mom is so against it, and he lives with her, so he has to obey. We are so sad because he is so ready; he's been investigating the church for over a year! We are planning to fast with him and the Young Men leader who is a close friend of his, and mark an appointment to meet his mom. None of the missionaries have ever been able to meet with her, and Marcelo says she will not mark a day or time. She doesn't want to talk to members of the church. Still, we feel that we should try to talk to her and see if we can clear up her misconceptions, understand where she's coming from. We are praying for inspiration and direction, and feel that this would be best. "
Camila's doing great. She is going to be the cutest little Beehive :) Super excited for her baptism.

We started teaching one of our students from our English class, Eriwelton! He is such a good kid. 16 years old, and just a really good kid. I'm trying to think of how else to say it, but that's the best way to describe him. He listens to good music, and isn't involved with nasty videogames or girls or drugs like a lot of the teenage boys are. He likes to learn, and wants to know God. He reminds me a lot of Nate. I just wanted to hug him. "You look like my brother!!!!" but I contained myself. We had a great lesson with him, and helped him understand who God is, and that He loves you, and that He does respond to prayers, in His own way and time. We're excited to teach him again this week :)
I hit one year on the mission this week. That was weird! There's a picture here. Coincidentally, it was Carpina's anniversary/birthday as well, a holiday for the city. At the end of the day it started POURING and we got drenched on the way home. Woohoo! Banho [Bath] ...

Hope this week is fantabulous for everyone! I Love you all, and send beijos e abraços! [kisses and hugs]  (But just handshakes for the boys). Love you!
Sister Hicken



Monday, September 8, 2014

Miracles in Carpina



September 8, 2014
Monday

Hi Mom!
Figured out the trick this week to sending pictures (I think). So I’m trying to send some! Finally you will see my Asian-Argentinian daughter :) 

Sister Munoz ("My Asian-Argentinian Daughter)  and Sister Hicken in the Christmas Aprons that only took 10 months to arrive!  Love Camille's "shoes".


Sister Roig was supposed to be going home in the middle of December, but she asked President to stay another transfer, so she'll be going home in January, just one transfer before me! :)

Thank You for all your prayers for Camila! We have seen this week many miracles, especially how the Lord answers prayers. Her mom has given permission for her to be baptized! She is sooo excited. I copied my letter to president here below:

This week we have seen miracles happening in Carpina! We were able to mark 2 baptisms, and hope to have a third marked this week very soon. Our investigator, Camila, who is 12, has been coming to church for a few months now and is just waiting to complete the 3 month rule and get permission from her mom, who we had heard was not friendly to the church. But we visited her mom this week, and were able to explain more about baptism, and the church and how it would help Camila be an even more virtuous and good young woman. Her mom was pretty closed in the beginning, but as we started to talk, she opened up, and she gave permission for Camila to be baptized. At the end, we shared a message with them, and the Spirit touched her. We could all feel it, it was so strong. It was amazing. There have been various other miracles this week; I don't have time to write them all! But we are working hard, and are very humbled to see how Heavenly Father arranges things in just the right way, at the right time. Sister Muñoz is doing great. We love working together, and I am so blessed to have her as my companion. I love her! She is learning so fast, and seriously never complains.

Okay close quote. So yeah, that was the miracle with Camila. Her mom is really nice, just was worried about her daughter :) And she even said we would be welcome whenever we wanted to pass by. It would be so cool if she joined the Church too. She's going to come to Camila's baptism, and hopefully confirmation. We'll see if we can work more with her :)

Other miracle of the week-Marcelo. He has been taught by the missionaries for more than a year, ever since the elders! He's wanted to be baptized, and tried several times, but his parents are super anti-Mormon. Last week, he turned 18, and can now legally be baptized without his parent's permission, but was still on the fence about it (oh, detail: he lived in the area of the other sisters until last week as well, when he moved to our area. so he was their investigator, but now he's ours). One day this week, we came to the church, and Irmã Selma said we need to call Marcelo. She said she'd been walking down the street and ran into Marcelo and he said "Thank goodness, my prayers have been answered!" He had been praying to find a member of the church to be able to get our phone number. He needed urgently to talk with us (somehow we had his phone number but he didn't have ours yet). Irmã Selma didn't have her phone with her, so sent him to another brother in the ward who would have our number. That night we called Marcelo, and he said he had decided he wanted to be baptized! (Later when we talked with him in person, he said he held the phone far away from his ear preparing to hear shrieking and screaming. Haha it was a wise decision :) But he had a couple things he needed to talk to us about. The next day we talked to him and he told us the whole story. He had been praying and pondering that week about what he should do, talking with his Heavenly Father. He found the church app and downloaded it on his phone, and started to read the June or July Liahona, and found a talk about recognizing the Holy Ghost, and he felt strongly as he read, that that was his answer, and that he needed to be baptized. When he read the August Liahona, he found another talk that talked about something similar, and felt his answer was confirmed. But he had no way to get into contact with us! He was so happy when we called. He then told us that his mom had signed him up for a 3-day Catholic youth camp, and asked if he could still be baptized. We said no problem. The only thing was that he didn't know when it would be. As soon as he knows when it is, we can mark the day! He is such an amazing example to me. He has so much faith. His family doesn't support him.  He started dating a girl this week who was also against the church, and so they broke up. He already gave up coffee (he remembered from months ago when the missionaries taught him the word of wisdom), and is super excited. Also said that his mom is starting to soften a little bit, and not criticize so much the church and not forbid him to go to activities and church. Please pray that we can mark a date for his baptism, and that everything will go smoothly!

Okay, really fast. Third miracle. Dalva. We taught her one time last week, and she came to church with us and liked it, but was super sick, so couldn't concentrate very well. This week we tried to mark with her to teach her but she was working a lot. Saturday night we managed to catch her at home just before she left for work, and she said that she would go to church the next day if she didn't have to work. I'm sorry to say that I didn't have a lot of faith that she would go because a lot of people say that and then don't end up going. Plus Sunday was Independence Day here in Brasil. (Sunday morning we got caught in the middle of like 3 parades on the way to pick up an investigator). But when we arrived at church, she was already there! AND it was her birthday. She came to church on a holiday and her birthday. This woman is fantastic. We were able to mark her baptism for September 20th. She is excited! Please pray that we will be able to teach her during the week. It's hard because her schedule varies a lot.

Other tidbit of culture fluff that I keep forgetting to mention--Brasil's elections are in October, so there's a TON of campaigning going on right now. If you thought American election ads were bad, try coming to Brasil for a day. Here they have those cars that pass through the city playing music and advertisements suuuper loud. It’s sooo annoying. I already know most of the candidates now, and their little election jingles.

Wellll, I think that's about it for news here. We’re doing well here in Carpina. I love love love this ward and this area, and can't believe how fast the time flies. I love you all and hope this week is wonderful! Oh, other news I forgot! Our mission is getting a senior couple to work in the office! The Swalbergs, I think their name was. They are from Utah and we will get to meet them soon :)

Okay that's really it. Love you all! :)
Sister Hicken


Sister Fortes, Sister Hicken, and Sister Munoz...Proud "Mama" with her two "Daughters".


Sister Munoz, Sister Hicken (in a holiday mood), Sister Kohtz, and Sister Kohtz's companion



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Christmas in August!

September 1, 2014
Monday


I really need to write out the things that happened during the week before I sit down to write, because I never know where to start!

Oooh I know. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR YOUR PACKAGES!!!!!!!! :DDDDD I got a birthday package in the mail, and also a Christmas package with some very adorable APRONS!!!!! [Editor's Note:  These aprons were last Fall and mailed by November 9, 2013.  Just days after mailing the aprons Camille told us that we had been given the wrong address.  Needless to say, the aprons did not arrive by Christmas.  They were assumed MIA.  They showed up back in the States at the end of May 2014 much to our surprise.  So they got sent off to Brazil again by the second week of June 2014.  They finally arrived in Brazil the end of August 2014.  It only took 8 months.  Merry Christmas, Camille!]  We took apron pictures :) I am trying to send them, but the pictures are still having problems. I may have to buy a new memory card after all.  And thank you thank you thank you for the goodies! I was very excited to get new shirts! It changes the whole wardrobe!!! And I loooved the pictures :) and the candy and peanut butter. OHHH and the shoes. They have saved my feet. They are perfect, and arrived just in time. My other ones are pretty sad. I took a picture comparing them :) So thank you thank you thank you!!!! Oh, also, I saw the rest of the party pics. And it was sooooo cute! I can't believe you went and borrowed a lighter at 10 at night to light the candles! Hahahaha and everyone's pictures turned out soo cute, Captain America, pandy and teddy, the TARDIS, the Brazilian flag. You guys are the coolest :) I felt very loved. 

Camille's Chocolate Birthday cake made and eaten in her honor by her family in Thailand.  It only has lit candles due to the kindness of a guard in the lobby of their apartment building who lent out his cigarette lighter so the candles could be lit.



SO report from this week. We have been finding some neat new people. On Tuesday we met Eder, when we were contacting in the street. He was very nice, and marked an appointment with us, but on the day of the appointment he wasn't there. We called and he was in another city, and had been waiting for us to call and confirm. But when we invited him to the church activity that night, he came! The Elders Quorum president sat next to him, and showed him around the church, and we talked with him, and he said that he was a member of 2 other churches in the past, but for the past 2 years he's been praying to find the right religion. GOLDEN!!! The only problem is that he works on Sundays so couldn't come to church, but said he would try to take one off to come.  We marked another appointment with him, and left the 1st pamphlet with him, and invited him to read and pray. He also may come to our English class next week! Woohoo!

We also taught Claudio, a referral from a member, and it went super well with him. We taught him about the restoration, and invited him to be baptized. He didn't accept right away, said he wants to get to know the church better, but said that he felt really good about what we taught, and wanted to come back and learn more. He was all set to come to the activity and church with Erick, our LMA, but ended up having to work as well. Coming to church is the hardest part for people. 

We have two cute young women marked for baptism on the 28th of September:  Eduarda and Camila. Camila, not sure if I already told about her, but she's the Bishop's cousin, and has been coming on and off to church for a while, but just recently we asked her if she wanted to be baptized, and she said yes! She has been coming every week, and we've been teaching her, and she has been progressing so much. She has been reading the Book of Mormon every day for the past few months, and the Young Women’s president says she answers questions during class like a girl who's grown up in the church. Please pray that her mother will support her decision to be baptized. Her dad is fine with it. We are praying for the direction on the right way to approach the situation. 

MY PRODIGAL DAUGHTER RETURNED! Sister Fortes got transferred to our zone as sister training leader with Sister Seidmann, and got to do a division with us on Friday. It was sooo cool. I am amazed to see her progress, and it was so great to be able to teach together and talk with everyone, and laugh our guts out :) She is a crack-up. I love that woman. She was born with a missionary spirit, and was able to help me identify some things to help me improve. 

We had a ward activity this Friday, a talent show. For a tiny ward, there was a good turn out. It was interesting in some parts, but turned out pretty well, and we had four investigators there! One of them, Camila, participated. Also, our investigator, Erick, played and sang The Scientist, by Coldplay, in English! He always comes to the activities, but not to church. But we continue to pray for him, and always invite him. 

Well, I think I'll wrap up now to be able to read individual emails. Thank you all for your love and prayers! Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Sister Hicken