Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in July--At Least That's What It Felt Like

December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope it was a wonderful day for you all, and that everyone is safe and sound and healthy and happy :) Christmas here isn't really a big holiday sadly, just a couple days off of work and a bunch of lights and things for most people. On Christmas Day, we had a district meeting in the morning, studied after almoço [lunch], got to talk with family :) (You're a good lookin bunch! It was so fun to see you! <3) and then we street contacted until a lesson with an investigator, and her sister-in-law, who is also a member. It went super well, and our investigator is seeing the change and feeling a peace that she has never had before. Sister Morales and I just love her so much, and are hope hope hoping that she and her boyfriend will be able to get married soon. She told us this week that they will probably be moving to Jaboatão, another part of Recife (NOOOOO!!!! :''''''''(((() But there are 2 wards there as well, and if it turns out that they move, I hope and pray that they will be in good hands there. They are amazing. Also, their son,  who is 4, is my new best friend. He calls me "tia" which is aunt. During sacrament meeting, I drew pictures for him to color, and he sat there coloring so quietly the whole time. He also says I look like a princess. I want to bring this kid home with me!!!! 

We visited one of our investigators this week, and she is feeling better ever since the blessing, and is feeling a peace she's never felt before. She loves church, and though she can't remember things very well, she is keeping commitments and is going to be baptized! 

Excerpt from letter to President:
"This week was a great week.  We have a good group of progressing investigators, and we are so excited to see them changing, and the members embracing them. But our investigator that we had marked for January 3rd will be gone all week, because of medical problems, and will be with her son in another city. She is an older lady, and has problems remembering things, and yesterday when we reminded her of her baptism date, she remembered that she was going to be staying with her son this next week. Sigh. But she is coming to church consistently and has no problem with the commandments so far, and we hope to remark her baptism for the 10th. We are working hard and the members are becoming more and more excited, and we are too. We are so grateful for the Lord's guidance, and the wonderful members here in Ouro Preto. 

We also visited our other investigator marked for baptism. He is the coolest old man ever. We just love him, and the members love him and we're so excited with his progress. He always asks questions, which I love, and he says he feels at home at church, and is excited for his baptism. Keep them in your prayers!"

Ooooother newsworthy events...........................................................................ummm I can't remember anything else. I'll remember 829,029,800,000 things afterwards, but for now I can't remember.

I love you all, and hope you have a lovely rest of 2014, and a fantastic 2015!!!!!!! Love yoooou!

Sister Hicken

Sunset on Christmas.  The view in front of our house.

District Meeting Christmas Morning.

P-Day in Olinda a few weeks ago.  Sister Hicken, Sister Damian, Sister Morales, and Sister Piza

Sister Hicken and Sister Morales (and the Atlantic Ocean out there!  The beach is a 30 minute walk from their house, but out of their district so they don't get to go.)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas From Sister Hicken

December 22, 2014

....La grippe, la post nasal drip. With the wheezes, and the sneezes, and a sinus that's really a PIP! (or bip, I can't remember which.) But I caught the cold that's been circulating through Ouro Preto this month, and it's been fun times. But I've been able to work still, I just sound more like a deacon than a Sister (Bethany---my voice is chaAaanging ). 

This week was pretty darn fantastic! Wednesday we had Conferência de Natal, of the whole entire mission!!!! It was sooo fun to see everybody, and spiritually uplifting as well. We watched a talk by Pres. Uchtdorf called "Fear not, I am with thee" from the mission president training this year, that has really motivated me and Sister Morales to talk with EVERYONE. We are disciples of Christ! We fear no man! Including the drunk guy who Sister Piza always called "Orc", who we contacted on the street this week. It wasn't a very productive conversation, and I'm pretty sure he called Mary Magdalene a word that probably isn't heard in polite conversation, but we tried all the same, haha. 

Our investigators are progressing well this week. One agreed to give up coffee, and is excited for her baptism, which will actually be on January 3rd, due to the craziness of the holidays and her many medical appointments. She also received a blessing of health this week, and it really touched her. She is loving church, along with her grandson. 

Another investigator told Bishop last week that he feels his place is here in the church. We committed him to baptism on January 17th! He is incredible, has been well prepared to receive the gospel because of his experiences in life. We are excited to see him so happy!

Another couple are working on the wedding deal. The government here in Brasil makes it hard for people to get married, a bunch of stupid hoops to jump through that aren't necessary, just bring in more money for them. The sister said she wants me and Sister Morales to be able to be at her wedding and I told her I want to be there too! Keep them in your prayers. 

The ward Christmas party was this Saturday. Here instead of Christmas party, they use the word "Cofraternização" or cofraternization. I don't even know if that's a word in English, but if it was, I would imagine the stiffest, stuffiest party on the face of the planet. Why we don't just use the word festa, I don't know, haha. But it was sooooo good. The youth and primary did a Nativity presentation, and Valeria asked us 2 to sing as part of it. The day of, I came down with a cold, and sounded like a teenage boy, but it turned out well, cuz Sister Morales has a voice like Celtic Woman. There were a lot of visitors there, and some less-actives that came too! One lady we had visited a couple days before with her visiting teacher, and she said, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe I’ll come, but don't count on it! But on Saturday she showed up, and laughed when she saw my look of complete and utter shock, surprise and thrilledness! We were sooo happy she came. Unfortunately she didn't come to church, but this was a big step for her. 

Excerpt from my letter to President-

“It has week has been so wonderful, the highlight being the Conferencia de Natal da missao. Thank you so much for all the time and effort and thought put into the preparation of the conference. It was fantastic. I especially loved the talk from President Uchtdorf. It was exactly what I needed, and those words have echoed in my mind as I approach every person on the street- "You are a disciple of Jesus Christ. You fear no man!" That has been so motivating for me and Sister Morales, and we have strived to put that in practice this week. The work is progressing here, and we are so thrilled to see the progress of our dear investigators. We marked the baptisms of 2 of them, and hope to mark others soon as well. We are trying harder to work more with the members as well, and it has been making a big difference. It's a challenge but our ward mission leader is determined to change their frame of mind and we are starting with the ward missionaries. They are catching the missionary spirit, and we're planning a sacrament meeting about missionary work, where they'll share their experiences teaching with the missionaries, sharing the gospel, seeing the change in the investigators, and we hope this will ignite a desire in the other members to do the same. We are so thankful for the wonderful members, who really make the difference in the work.”

I love you all and hope this week is filled with Christmas magic and miracles and snow! Don't forget to love and serve one another, as Jesus would do this Christmas season. BIG HUG FROM ME! (afterwards wash your hands cuz I don't want you to get sick)


Sister Hicken

DETAILS on the Christmas Skype call. I have 45 minutes, and am shooting for 4 p.m. my time. I’m not sure if this is like 3 in the morning for you guys. I hope not. If it is I'm sorry! [It is 2 a.m. for her family in Bangkok.]

Christmas phone call!  Skype was pretty fuzzy this year, but she still sounded great!

It's 2:30 a.m. for Sister Hicken's family in Bangkok.  Ahhh, the wonders of modern technology.  We Skyped with Sister Hicken, and Facetimed with her sister back in Utah. 

Making sure Bethany gets to see her sister too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cockroach Pudding

December 15, 2014

Mundo feliz, nasceu Jesus! [Happy world, the Lord!]

Excerpt from letter to President:

“This week has been super super busy, with Ouro Preto becoming one area again, and trying to follow up with all of our investigators and the other sisters’ investigators.  We have been working hard, and combining with the ward to reactivate and teach investigators, and have started to see the growth!  It’s so exciting!  We are preparing a couple to get married and her to be baptized, and are planning the baptisms of at least 2 other investigators as well.  We have many progressing or potentially progressing investigators, and are bringing back the lost sheep as well.  This is a new era for Ouro Preto!  Our ward mission leader is fantastic, and is on the same page as us, and the First Presidency.  We know the Lord has his hand over Ouro Preto right now, and miracles are happening.  We feel so very blessed to work here right now.”

So yeah this week has been fantastic! We are so excited with all the growth that is happening  here. One investigator came to church with her grandson and loved church. We have felt that she needs a little more time to prepare for baptism, due to some illnesses and medical appointments, but she'll get there. Also, an investigator of the other sisters, Damião came to church and told the bishop that he feels his place is here. Woohoo! Jaqueline came again, and she and Eduardo are excited as well. 

Funny/horror story of the week--My companion is deathly afraid of cockroaches. She can handle spiders, rats, mosquitos, whatever, but haaaaates cockroaches, and can't kill them. I used to have a cockroach phobia too, but after a while, got used to (ish) seeing and killing them without a problem. I don't like them, but I could smash one without a problem. I thought I was over my cucaracha-phobia, and laughed at my companion when she screamed because of a cockroach, and thought "I remember when I used to do that. But I’m so much more mature now...." weeeellll I should have known I had it coming to me. Saturday morning as I went to empty out sand from my shoe, I saw there was something else inside, which I thought was a piece of trash or something, and reached in with my hand and the trash started to MOVE, and crawl and Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagghhh!! It was a nasty giant COCKROACH!!!!!!!! 

The screaming was so loud, the neighbor kids came to see what happened. 

And AFTER being expulsed from my property, the critter had the nerve to run BACK into my shoe, as if it were his own house!!!! And he escaped too! The little nasty. But later I found him trying to sneak into our house again and I made pudding out of him. (Not literally). But he no longer resembles cockroach in any form.

I don't laugh at my companion anymore. 

Well that took more time to tell than I thought it would. Sorry I have to go. I’ll try to send pictures next week. 2 weeks ago we went to a reallllly beautiful place in Olinda. You can Google it. Alto da Sé. I have some cool pictures! 

Love you all and hope your Christmas is very merry! Good luck with finals! 

Sister Hicken

A Preview from Google Images of Alto da Se...hopefully next week's picture of it will actually have Sister Hicken in it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's Not Christmas Without David Archuleta

December 8, 2014
Hello world! Hope you are all well and enjoying the Christmas season. Here we are listening to Motab and David Archuleta Christmas music nonstop. To tell the truth, it's been that way since mid-November, but now it's legal. Also, if you guys haven't seen the video "He is the Gift" on YouTube yet, go watch it now, (or mom is there any way you can put the link on my blog?) It is the best. We have been showing it to members and investigators all week, and I never get sick of it. It's soooo cool.
This week has been so good, for many reasons. For one, Elder Claudio R. M. Costa came to speak to our mission this week. He is fantastic. We came with questions and concerns on our mind, and left with answers to all of them. We have lots of new ideas to try in our area, and as we put them in practice, we have started to see the difference. He talked about the Book of Mormon, working with members, following the Spirit, being bold. That last one has always been a struggle for me, but I have been praying and striving this last week to be more bold. It's fun.
Our 7th day Adventist friend is doing well. And by doing well, I mean he respects what we taught him this last lesson, but doesn't believe it. But we gave him a Book of Mormon, and invited him to read and pray, and he committed to do both. If he reads with an open heart, really desiring to know the truth and not looking to criticize, he will come to know for himself that it's true. And his doubts will be resolved. As Pres. Costa said, the Book of Mormon is the best missionary.

Jefferson is reading the Book of Mormon, and he came to church! Unfortunately he couldn't stay the whole time, but he liked it. Also, Gabí, a less active girl we visited, and her little brother came to church. We had visited them with the YW president. Also, we are super excited about a couple with 2 kids who showed up at church basically ready to be married and her to be baptized. She is super elect!!!! Also, not sure if we talked about Luzinete last time, but she is a lady we visited last week, and taught about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and a little about the Plan of Salvation. She has lost many family members, and has many medical problems, and is suffering a lot right now. We taught her this time the full plan of salvation and invited her to be baptized. And she accepted! She's going to be baptized on the 27th and come to church next Sunday, with her grandson and with us. It was amazing to watch the Spirit work with her as we taught, and she was able to understand and comprehend the need to be baptized in the same way as Christ, to be able to return to live with God, and her family. The Spirit touched her, and she was noticeably happier and lighter when we left than when we first met her. We love her so much and are so excited to see her progressing.

Excerpt from my letter to president-
This week has been fantastic! We witnessed many miracles. The Lord is truly blessing the Ouro Preto ward. Also, putting in practice things that we learned from Elder Costa have helped a lot. He promised that if we reactivate, we will find, teach and baptize. Also, we marked the baptism of one of our investigators (and will hopefully mark her grandson as well) for baptism on the 27th. There is a lot of work to do! And we are so happy to be able to stay here in Ouro Preto, but sad to say good-bye to Sister Piza and Sister Damián.
Yes, today was transfers, and both Sis. Piza and Sis. Damián were transferred, so it's back down to 2 sisters in Ouro Preto again. It's weird to be the only two missionaries in the house/area.
Love you all, and hope you have a wonderful week! Thank you for your love and prayers. Never forget who you are :)
Sister Hicken

Picture with Elder Costa, President and Sister Bigelow, and missionaries.  Sister Hicken is in the green dress on the right.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

He is the Gift

December 1, 2014

Hello All!


(I hope that's really the actual website cuz I actually only have the Portuguese version) [Yes…that’s the right website.] but anyways, 

Go there, after you finish reading this letter, and watch the video, He is the Gift. It is so good :) We are sharing it with everyone we know this month, and on December 7th, next Sunday, it will be the masthead video on YouTube. Share it with everyone! I am so excited to be entering in the Christmas season again, because it seems like people's hearts are more open to the Spirit at this time of year. 

So this week:  The work with the ward is progressing this week.  We were able to have more lessons with members, and also bishop called 2 ward missionaries this week, and is going to call more.  We had a meeting with them and our ward mission leader and also ward council, and are working with the ward to reactivate 5 families this month.  We are working hard and our grupo de ensino [google translate says education group but teaching group makes more sense…] is slowly building.

We invited our ward mission leader, Irmao Rinaldo to come with us to our lesson with a man we had met a few weeks ago, but this week asked us to mark a day to come and talk with him to resolve some questions and doubts he has.  He has been a member of the 7th Day Adventist church for 21 years.  22 years ago he met with the missionaries, but, evidently, didn’t join the church.  We had talked with him a few weeks ago, and he was very friendly, but wasn’t interested…but this time he asked us to come.  We went with Ir. Rinaldo, and it was soooooo good that we did because when we got there, we could tell he was ready to debate, but after the prayer, before we started to talk, Ir. Rinaldo said a few words, about how we wanted the Spirit to be there, and were not by any means going to debate, and I don’t even remember what else he said, but brought such a spirit of peace to the room, that Jorge visibly relaxed, and during our discussion, the Spirit was there.  He had doubts about agency and sin, and 2 Nephi 2, and we were actually able to resolve them.  It was D & C 50 coming to life.  There were some things that he didn’t agree with or  accept, but when this happened, we just testified of what we knew and invited him to pray and ask God, and ponder on these things.  He wants us to come back this week.  He has a list of doubts.  And he LOVED Ir. Rinaldo.

Another investigator couldn’t come this week, but said he would skip his church one week to come visit ours, next week!

We visited an inactive couple this week, we had received as a referral from a member. They were very receptive, even though they’ve been inactive for years and years.  The husband said last week he ran into the sisters close to the temple, and that last night he had a dream about the Book of Mormon.  He told his wife about it and she said, “How funny that he told me about his dream this afternoon, and then just now you two showed up!”  Coincidence?  I think NOT!  We are working with them to come back.

Guys, I know the gospel is true.  I know Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and that He knows each one of us personally.  He is our constant Friend.  I love Him, and know that because of Him, my family will be together forever.

I love you all, and wish you a merry December 1st!  It has begun!!! :D  THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEEEEAR!

Sister Hicken