Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Howdy from Tatooine

November 24, 2014
Howdy from Tatooine!
Not that Recife has two suns, but it sure feels that way! I bathe myself every day in sunscreen. And the locals say that summer hasn't even begun yet. Don't tell me that! Nooononononono! So.... count your blessings over there in winter wonderland, and I’ll try to count mine here in Tatooine.
Sister Morales and I commented yesterday as we were going home, "What a weird week".  Just weird little experiences every day. Lots of people who wanted to debate with us this week. Trying to enlighten us so that we wouldn't be "enganado" (I can't remember the word in English). [The word she is looking for in English is…wrong according to Google translate.] Excerpt from my letter to president because I’m running short on time:

We nicknamed this week "a semana de apostasia" [the week of apostasy] because we found several people this week that wanted to debate with us, and didn't want to listen to our message, but did want to give us a lecture in false doctrine. It was really weird that they all came in the same week, at least four cases of Zeezroms, Nehors and Korihors. In each case, we listened and were respectful, and tried to teach or bear testimony if possible, and leave when the Spirit told us to. I had never been full out yelled at before on my mission until this week. While these experiences were not exactly delightful, we both felt peace, and we both felt our testimonies strengthened, and we knew the Lord was with us. We didn't get discouraged, on the contrary. We felt strengthened. What was disheartening was the compromissos [commitments] and members that had marked to teach with us that fell through this week. It was really rough. But we are thrilled because a brother moved back into the ward this week (who is a former bishop and stake president) and the bishop called him yesterday to be our ward mission leader. We are very excited to start working with him and have several ideas already.
Cool experiences this week--
With Juvita, a lady that we met knocking on doors. We started to talk and she said she was looking to come closer to God, and that she wasn't perfect, but wanted to follow his commandments. I can't remember all that happened, but as we talked, I felt prompted to share John 3:5 with her and share how baptism is one of the commandments of God, and how we can be clean and free, and one day return to live with God if we follow Jesus Christ and are baptized. And then I invited her to be baptized, and her eyes got misty and she said "that is all I want, to be closer to God". The spirit was so strong. Unfortunately, she just works at this house, and lives in another city (nooooooooooo!!!!) but she accepted to hear the missionaries at her house.
Another experience with Francisco and Alsira, his wife, who were very firm in their religion, and made this clear from the beginning, but accepted to hear a message, and at the end, accepted the invitation to pray to know if the church is true and come to church on Sunday, and sincerely told us they wanted to learn more, and maybe even become part of the church.
Ahhhh I wanted to share another few experiences, but my time is up. But this week, despite the difficulties, was full of little miracles. And we are looking forward, not back. I love you all and bye!
Sister Hicken

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Planting Seeds in Ouro Preto

November 17, 2014

Hello everyone! 

First things first, the mission address zip code thing changed. Now, instead of 50070-050 it's 50070-055. Letters/packages sent to the original will still be routed to the new address for a time, but all future things should be sent to this new one. 

So second things second, this week was my first week with my new companion! Sister Morales. She is from Merida, Mexico, and is 19 years old. She loves to sing, and was studying chemistry and physics and a lot of sciency stuff before the mission. She LOVES the heat. You will notice in this picture that she is wearing a blazer. Yeah, I was melting, and she was chilly. Haha so she feels right at home here in Recife. I love this woman already! She is so excited to work and LOVES Ouro Preto (didn't even complain about taking a bucket shower on her first night on the field. She's a trooper. P.S. water returned after that, it was just a day or two.) Tuesday President and Sister Bigelow picked me up and we went straight to the airport to pick up Sis. Morales. One of the first things she asked me was, "Are we going to get to proselyte tonight?" Hahaha she is the best. Still learning Portuguese, but already speaks very well. 

Wednesday we had a training meeting for all the new missionaries and the trainers, and it was the best thing ever, because I came away with new ideas to work with in the ward, and in opening the area.   We ended up not really dividing the area by a line, because there isn’t a great way to divide Ouro Preto, and it turns out the area isn’t all that big.  So we’re working us four in the same area for now. It is likely that the division of the area will be temporary, but we won't know for sure until transfers of course. But President told me not to worry too much about how we divide the area. 

It's been a long week of planting. We planted a lot of seeds this week, and talked with a loooooot of people. I don't think I've ever talked with so many people in one week before. We have already started to see some miracles. The first night, everything fell through, so we said a prayer to know where the Lord would have us go, and started walking and a woman was passing and saw us and said, "Hey what church are you guys from, because I just moved here and I'm looking for a church to go to, but haven't found one yet. Can you help me?" My mouth dropped open. We told her about our church, and marked a visit with her for the next day. Unfortunately, she had to take someone to the hospital and couldn't meet with us, but asked us to mark another day this week. More updates on events unfold. We met another young woman in a similar situation, that we went in the direction we felt we should go, and she came to us, and asked us to pray for her, and I asked if we could share a message with her, and she wrote down all her information, and said we would be very welcome because she was really needing help from God. So we met a lot of people this week through contacts, but also felt strongly that we should work more with less actives, to strengthen the ward, and also find new people to teach. We've got several ideas that are going to help strengthen the ward, from Presidente Bigelow, and also we're excited because the bishop is going to call a ward mission leader this next week, most likely. So things are not easy here in Ouro Preto, but they're looking up. Sister Morales has the best most upbeat attitude I've ever seen. She already told me she wants to stay in Ouro Preto at least 2 transfers. She loves the area and the people already. 

President Bigelow gave two challenges mission wide this last week. One is to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover as a mission between last Monday and December 17th (our Christmas zone conference), and the other is to find and baptize a family before the end of the year. We are working hard to accomplish these goals! If anyone wants to join me in reading the Book of Mormon (maybe not before the 17th of December, but before the end of the year), you are welcome! Especially if you have never read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, I invite you to start now, and read it in its entirety, and then ask God to know if it really is true. I promise you that He will answer. He answered my prayer, and I know that the Book of Mormon is true. And it has changed my life. 

I love you all and wish you a merry Thanksgiving, if that's this week, and if not then next week haha :) 
Love you all!
Sister Hicken

Camille and her new companion, Sister Morales

The New Ouro Preto Missionary Force:  Sister Hicken (celebrating 14 months in the field on November 11), Sister Morales, Sister Piza and Sister Damian

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'm a Momma Again!

November 10, 2014
I got a call from President today officially announcing what we were thinking these past few weeks---that I will be training, and that we will be dividing Ouro Preto! Aiaiai! The new sister's name is Sister Morales, and she's from Mexico, and is arriving straight from the CTM. I'm excited to meet her tomorrow! Pres. and Sister Bigelow are going to come pick me up and we'll go straight to the airport to get her, and then on Wednesday we'll have a training for all the new missionaries, and yeah! I have a ton of questions, and I have no idea how it's gonna all work out, but it will. I'm excited!

Here is an excerpt of my letter to President-
"We were excited to receive your call this morning. We were expecting to get another missionary here in Ouro Preto. I am excited to train Sister Morales, and know the Lord has a work for us to do here together!

This week was pretty difficult, for various reasons. Sister Piza was sick several days, so that was a challenge, but thankfully it was nothing serious, and she's feeling better. We had to drop several investigators that had seemed to have potential, but afterwards ran away from us and weren't home when we marked. We knocked on a lot of doors, and talked with a lot of people, but almost no one was interested. BUT, we set a goal in faith that we will have a baptism on November 22nd. We made some mini-goals to help us get there, and are fasting today as well. It's funny, about 10 minutes after we made this goal, we discovered that the house was out of water, and then later that day Sister Piza got sick, and it just seemed like everything combined all at once to ruin our progress. But that's what always happens when you're on the right track. It's what happens to every investigator on the path to baptism, every missionary that decides to serve a mission, or any person who wants to make changes in their life to follow Jesus Christ. I know the Lord has people prepared for us here in Ouro Preto, and we're close to finding them. We are trying something new in our messages nos almoços [in lunches], and are receiving more referrals from members. This week we hope to contact them all. I've never felt so challenged on my mission by the area, but I'm growing more than I ever have, and know that the Lord will bless us for our diligence and patience. I know we will be able to find, and teach, and baptize His elect here."
This week was a test of my faith. I was reading this week in Alma about the stripling warriors, and how after they won their battle, the war still wasn't over, and they waited for months with almost no provisions, and having to fight off the Lamanites with no outside help. They didn't know what was happening or why no help was coming, but they had faith that the Lord would deliver them, and they prayed and prayed for Him to help them and comfort them. And the Lord responded by sending peace, and comfort and giving them faith that He would deliver them. And that gave them the strength to fight the battles, and in the end, win the war. I know the Lord has a plan for His children in Ouro Preto, and there are things He needs me and my companions to accomplish. I may not understand right now, but I know He will bless my efforts with miracles. It is by faith (in action) that the Lord accomplishes miracles, through his humble and diligent servants. I am trying every day to be a better instrument in the hands of my Heavenly Father.
Thank you for all your prayers and love! It means the world to me to have the support of such awesome family and friends. I love you! :)

Have a wonderful week! Don't forget who's in charge.
Love, Sister Hicken

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 Musketeers/Charlie's Angels/Harry, Ron, and Hermione get to work in Ouro Preto

November 3, 2014

A galinha vai botar o ovo, e vai falar até a validade. 

Overheard quote from a guy at a gym that we passed this week. The translation is mais ou menos [more or less]---"The chicken will lay the egg and even tell you the expiration date!" Food for thought.

So I've officially completed one week in Ouro Preto! I'm starting to learn the area and get to know the members better. The ward is very small, about 30 members, even though the chapel is bigger than Carpina. We three are establishing a teaching and contacting pattern for 3 people. It's been challenging at times adjusting to teaching in a trio, it's the first time for everyone. (True, I was in a trio for 3 weeks in the CTM but that doesn't count because back then we didn't know how to teach or even speak Portuguese.) But we've been working on it, so it's flowing better. A little more about my companions- Sister Piza is 20, and is from São Paulo. She loves Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, so naturally, we're pals already. She's been out for 7 months and was the one that opened Ouro Preto (for sisters. Before it was elders.) with Sister Dana. Sister Damián is from Lima, Peru, is 22, and has 5 months on the mission. She is sooooo super sweet. She loves to sing, and is learning how to conduct as well. We practice together.  :) I love both of these ladies. We decided we are the 3 Musketeers, or Peter, James, and John, or the Powerpuff Girls, or Faith, Hope, and Charity, or Harry, Ron, and Hermione, or Charlie's Angels. It's going well. :)

This week was a planting week. We planted a lot of seeds, taught a lot of new investigators, and hopefully this week we will start to see the growth. No one was able to come to church this week for various reasons. One lady got all ready to go to church, and we arrived with a member to pick her up, and at the last minute her son showed up to visit or something, and she couldn't come. Sigh :( But we will try again next week. 

Excerpt from my letter to President this week.

"These week was exhausting, but in a good way. We have been in search of new people to teach. We are trying some new methods to obtain references from members, and get them more involved with missionary work. We feel that by working with the members, and especially reactivating less-actives, we will be able to find and complete families. But we are working hard to rekindle the Spirit that those members afastados [away] felt when they were baptized, and have started to teach members of their families that aren't members of the church (yet!). There's a lot to do!"

We taught a less-active, Margarida, and her grandson, João Vitor yesterday, and for the first time (the sisters said), she felt the desire and need to return to church. She felt the Spirit, and João Vitor too. We are excited to return and teach them. :)

Not sure if I said this last week, but it is likely that we will be getting a new sister this next week, and we will divide the area. Will keep you updated!

Well, that's about it! Hope you had a Happy Halloween! Oh, I forgot, for Halloween, we (accidentally) shared a quick message and said a prayer with a witch. She said she was Espírita (Spiritist?) [Spiritualist], but that we could say a prayer with her, and it wasn't till after we left the house that Sister Piza realized she was really a macomba practicer. I can't remember how to say macomba in English, but it's like voodoo or something. So that was our Halloween!

Love you all, and Happy November!

Love, Sister Hicken