Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm Here!!!

Hi Mom, Dad, Family, and Friends,
Well, I made it to Joao Pessoa and now I´m in my first area, Queimadas! It´s about three hours by car away from Joao Pessoa and the mission home.

So there was a pretty big group of us that left the CTM together yesterday. There were 16 of us and then 4 Americans that had been serving in the US met us at the airport in Sao Paulo. Our flight was 3 hours long and Sister Fuentes and I had a really great conversation with the lady next to us on the plane. She is Catholic but she was so open and accepting to our message and we did it all in Portuguese! We gave her a pass along card and a little card that had the Articles of Faith on it.

When we arrived at the airport President Nogueira and his wife and the APs were there to greet us. There were about 20 something missionaries that were on the flight with us. 

We then went to the chapel where we had a quick lunch and a training meeting by the President, his wife, and the APs. 

We met our companions there too. My companion´s name is Sister Marschall and she is from Santa Catarina which is in the south of Brasil. She has only been out in the field for 6 weeks and she´s already training me! And, she´s only a month older than me so we are definitely new at this. I´m so glad that she´s a Brasilian though because I know she´ll help me so much with my Portuguese.

I´m a little overwhelmed right now and I can´t understand a lot of what people say but I´m excited and ready to get to work. We got to write today because transfer days are also p-days and our normal p-day is Monday

Last night we stayed in the mission home which is a huge apartment building because we had to travel so far today. This morning was a little crazy going back and forth to the mission office and getting suitcases and people and everything but now I´m in my first area in Queimadas. There is only a branch here but the goal is to put some missionaries in here and help the branch grow. 

Our apartment is definitely different than what I´m used to but I´m ready for a new experience. Also, normally it has only been for two people but there will be four sisters. Me, Sister Marschall, Sister Fernandes (Sister Marschall´s trainer) and Sister Johnson. Sister Johnson was serving in Rochester for 3 months and just got her visa. I think that would be really hard to have spoken English for 3 months and then be put straight into Brasil and her companion doesn´t speak very much English.

I´m really nervous but I´m very excited. I want to speak Portuguese a lot better now but I know that I need to have patience.

How are you all? Mom, how goes the recovery? Dad, how are you? How is work and your calling? 

How´s work going for the boys? Lindsey and Kelsey, how are you all? Norah and Alice?

Amanda: How are you doing? Getting ready for school?

I didn´t bring my stuff to send pictures but I will on Monday! I have so many to send you!

I miss you all like crazy but I´m so happy to be here. I love this Gospel and I know that it is true with all of my heart!

I love you all so much!!!!

Lots of love,
Sister Hicks

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's Gettting Real and the Royal Baby!

My Dear Friends and Family!
First things first, thank you for all your acknowledgement of the royal baby, His Royal Highness George Alexander Louis. That's great! And thanks for the pic Amanda! I'm so happy for them and I'm so happy that I've left a little bit of myself with you all because you guys remembered me when you heard the news, haha :) You guys are the best.
Mom: I'm so glad that things are slowly but surely getting better. I am so glad that so many people are helping and taking care of you! We do have some really sweet people in our ward! That's also hilarious to hear about Greg and that he's watching Hercules. I can't believe it! Things are REALLY changing while I'm gone!
Other random things:
No, I didn't see Emily at the CTM but I'm so glad that she made it here.
The police station experience was so cool and Lindsey, I do like what you said about how maybe she'll be some missionary's end story.
I'm glad to hear that Pioneer day went well for everyone. We had a devotional about the Pioneers on Sunday and watched the devotional from the Provo MTC on Tuesday. Oh and by the way, we're starting to get so many more Americans. About 8 or 9 a week which is crazy! I hope things are really starting to pick up! I can't believe I leave on Tuesday! It's definitely getting real! I am so excited!!!

I do hope that Becky and Hannah get better soon! Tell them that I'm thinking of them and praying for their health! Love them!
Lindsey: I'm glad to hear things are going so well with the new house and that book sounds really interesting! Thank you for sharing those insights! And the Royal Baby things at the grocery store sound awesome! Love it!
Dad: Thanks for your great email. I can't believe that Sister Hunter and her presidency were released! Big changes. Thank you for your scriptures on discipleship. I will have to study those this week. I love you and thanks for the update on the Royal baby. You are so sweet. I do feel like your royal baby ;)
This week was really hard with Sister Skudder leaving. Now I'm just in a trio with Elder Davis and Elder Walker which is kind of funny. It was really hard to say good bye to Sister Skudder. We were pretty different personalities but that's what made us so close. She was way more relaxed and go with the flow, and I wanted to plan everything. I learned so much from her and I'm so grateful that she was my first companion.
The thing that made the change even harder was that on Monday they moved the three of us (Elder Davis, Walker, and myself) to the district one week behind us which just has 4 elders. We really just wanted to keep our schedule and our teachers. After a lot of conversations with the big whigs and some prayers. Our schedule got changed back and we still have our normal teachers, schedule, and investigators. Prayers are answered! And persuasion works too, haha!
It has been sooooo cold here! We can see our breath. One night it got down to 5 degrees celcius. All the sisters asked for extra blankets and I'm so glad Mom that you told me to pack a few warm clothes. I'm definitely using them. Yes, it did snow in Curitiba and Florianopolis. Oh, did Jason Allred get his visa?
So this week was really cool. We got to go out on Wednesday and place some Book of Mormons. The three of us went out with Irmao Allan. We were definitely really nervous in the beginning and Irmao Allan just said, "Ok, go place those 6 Book of Mormons. You have about two hours. See you in a little."
We were having a hard time in the beginning. One lady was sweeping the sidewalk, saw us, and went straight inside. Then we saw her later and she was sweeping again. That was hard to feel so rejected and we hadn't even talked to her.
Then Irmao Allan saw that we were struggling and let's just say that he showed us how it's done. He just went up and started talking to this guy. He was joking around with him and just having a grand old time. It was so great. That definitely boosted our confidence. After that we placed one with a lady that already had one but she said she hadn't read it and the ones we had had a number to call to ask questions.
It was so cool to talk to people on the street and feel like a "real" missionary. I know it sounds silly but it was really cool to be out and among the people and I definitely am so much more confident with just going up and talking to people. I'm sure this will just increase as I have to talk to people more. I think it's funny that before now I didn't even want to ask for help at the grocery store and now I'm going up to people on the streets of Sao Paulo speaking Portuguese and giving Book of Mormons.
Another thing that happened this week was that we went to the Police Station for our visas. They take all your finger prints and are pretty uptight. Better not commit a crime because they have all your finger prints. Because we've been in Brasil for more than 30 days the church had to pay a fine. To pay the fine we waited in line for 3 and a half hours! Talk about the slowness of the bureacracy! It was definitely frustrating!
I have to go but I love you and miss you the mostiest! Greetings from Joao Pessoa next week!
Love you,
Sister Hicks

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tudo Bem

So the title of the blog post is tudo bem because whenever you pass by someone you always ask tudo bem? Which means "Everything well?" And you respond back "Tudo bem." It's probably the first words you'd ever need to learn in Portuguese haha!
First off, I am so grateful to get all your emails and I am so thankful for all your love and support!
So that I don't run out of time, I want to tell you about my experience at the polizia federal first! So on Tuesday, Sister Skudder, Elder Beale, and I went with Irmao Fabiano to get our visas. I didn't get mine, I just went with Sister Skudder cause she needed a companion to come with her so I get to go this week and next week for myself. It was just the three of us plus Irmao (Brother) Fabiano who works at the CTM and is best friends with everyone at the police station (which is very important). Surprisingly, he said that it's harder for the Hispanics to get their visa stuff worked out than us because Brasil doesn't have a great relationship with some South American countries.
So anyway, back to the story. So some other elders were there that have been in the field for a year and they were renewing their visas. So I was sitting and waiting for Sister Skudder and Elder Beale with Irmao Fabiano. Then this lady came over and she needed help but she didn't speak very much English, we found out that she is from Germany. So one of the Elders that's been here forever helped translate so that Irmao Fabiano could help her. Long story short, when Sister Skudder and I were waiting for the next step at the police station she came and sat down. More missionaries came to renew their visas so we started talking to them and saying hi. After a little bit, she turned around and asked who we were and how we all knew each other. Sister Skudder and I explained that we're missionaries from the Church and we explained why we're here. We found out that her name is Carolyn and she is from Germany but she's here on a study abroad learning Portuguese. She's lived all over the world and knows about 8 languages! As we continued to talk to her she explained that she believes that parts of almost every religion have truth and that she doesn't really need to go to church because she can have a relationship with God by herself.
We explained that we believe that a lot of churches have parts of the truth and we then went into the Plan of Salvation. She told us that she was so impressed that we would leave our families at such a young age. But, we told her that we do this because we know our message can bring so much hope. Long story short, we asked her if we she would come to church on Sunday and she said she would. (I know she might not but we were so glad that we planted a seed with her) One of the elders that was there called someone and got the address of the chapel closest to her. We asked for her contact info but she said she might be picking up a friend from the airport so she didn't want to commit to have the missionaries pick her up if she didn't go. We pressed her a little more but she said it was ok. :) I really hope she goes to church but even if she doesn't, we felt great after it and it was such a cool experience. Even though the police station was super busy, it felt like it was just the three of us there and the Spirit was so strong! It was so cool!
Because it was just the three of us, Irmao Fabiano took us to McDonalds after! It was so awesome! I'm so glad that he took that pic and sent it to you! We had a really good time and it tasted like the good old US of A! The elder in the pic is Elder Beale who is in our district from England.
Now to questions:
The investigator that you mentioned - they are "workers" at the CTM right? So the investigators are actually our two teachers but they are our investigators as well. They say that they are "getting a snack" when they leave and then we teach our "investigators." I thought it was weird at first but then you notice how completely different they are and we are able to see them as "two different people."
I am so glad to hear that Emily got her visa. She went straight to Campinas. I gave a note to a sister that headed to Campinas this past week and she said she would give it to Sister Heyer if she saw her!
I'm so glad that Amanda came over and things are going well with the bedroom! :)
How is the language coming?  The language is coming along so well. I really feel like I am getting a handle on it now. I can't believe how much I understand and it's giving me a lot more confidence! I know your prayers are helping me!
Do they make you speak Portuguese all the time?  Yes, we try and speak Portuguese all the time and our teachers don't usually speak English with us unless they really have to.
Do you speak portuguese with Sister Skudder? We try to speak Portuguese most of the time but we speak English to each other in our room and stuff.
What's the best story from this week?  The best story of this week was from the police station. It was incredible!
When do you leave the CTM?  I leave on July 30th! A week from Tuesday! Ahh!
I didn't think to ask you what mission is Sister Skudder going to?  She's going to Terecina! One of the hottest missions in Brasil! Hotter than mine!
Do you know others who are going to Joao Pessoa? The Brazilians that arrived this week leave the same day as me and there are a few sisters that I've met that are going there too! There are also 3 hispanic sisters that are leaving the same day and Elder Walker in my district!
There was such a great article in LDS living magazine about the Church in Brazil. If I sent it to you would you be allowed to read it?  It was super positive!  One out of 187 people in Brazil is LDS!: I don't know if I could but you could send it and I could ask, that's so awesome!
Kimball: I'm so glad to hear about your experience with the people from Samsung. That's so great. I also have the cheek to cheek picture up in my room and I love showing you guys to all the sisters! I'm glad to hear that the lessons get less stressful. I definitely get a little nervous before the lessons! I'm glad everything is going well with Black Bear! Give him a kiss from me :)
Kelsey: I am so glad to hear that things went well at Girls Camp! That's so great. Our investigator's name is Alessandro. Things are a lot better with him now! He is a lot better (I think breaking down in front of Irmao Allan (the same person) helped a lot, haha) He is a lot nicer now.
Bryan: I am sorry to hear things are so crazy with work but I hope they die down soon!
Lindsey: I love getting your blog posts. The pics don't upload very well but hopefully it will be better once I get out in the field! Thanks for writing me though!
Dad: Thanks for your scripture in 3 Nephi. That was really inspiring and I just love any scripture verses that I can get my hands on.
Taylor: I love you and I hope that all is well! How is the internship? What else is going on?
Mom: I hope your recovery continues to go well! I love you the mostiest!
I love you all so much and know that you are in my prayers from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed.
I love you and miss you so much!
Com Amor,
Sister Hicks

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Coordinating Sisters - Week Three

Hello from the CTM! I can't believe I'm already halfway done! I feel like such a grandma now. We're officially the "oldest" English speaking district because the ones that have been here the longest just left. It's weird that the new missionaries don't even know some of the missionaries that were our really good friends.
This week was sad because a lot of Sister Skudder and my favorite sister missionaries left the CTM. I'm so excited for them but it was hard to see them go.
In other news, Sister Skudder and I were called as the coordinating sisters for the 2nd floor. So basically that means that we look out for the spiritual and temporal needs of the sisters on our floor. We are their first contact when something goes wrong. Sister Degn even explained that we direct them to the emergency exits and everything if the fire alarm goes off or we go and get security in the middle of the night if something happens and we need President and Sister Degn. We also conduct Relief Society. We have already had to counsel with a companionship because they have been having issues getting along. And we greeted all the new missionaries that arrived this week. I am so humbled with this calling and I hope that I will be able to help the sisters to the best of my ability. Please pray for me that I will be able to meet the needs of the sisters and that they will feel of my love for them.
So now to the questions so that I don't run out of time:
Have you discovered any new foods that you like or don't like?
I have discovered that I don't like papaya. They serve that here and it's not my favorite. Also, on Wednesday nights they have pizza, but it's really gross pizza. Mine had corn on the top and no pizza sauce, it's just plain weird.
What is the funniest thing that has happened this week?
The funniest thing that happened was that during class yesterday our teacher Irmao Allan (he's a funny guy anyways) just jumped up in the middle of class and said he had to go to the bathroom and ran out. It was so random but we just rolled with it. hahah
What is your companion's personality like?  Any quirks?
My companion is super great. I really love her to death and we are the perfect pair for each other. She is so warm and loving to all the new sisters. She just goes up to them and gives them a big hug. One funny thing that she says is lollies instead of candy. The first time she asked me if I wanted a lolli, I was like, what did you say? haha, she has different names for different things but I love it.

What is the best part of the CTM and your least favorite part of the experience there?
The best part of the CTM is learning from so many different people and becoming such great friends with people from all over the world, especially South America. The worst part is sitting for so many hours in a day, I want to move around and exercise more. We only have it for 45 min a day, which is still nice.

How are your clothes - do you feel that you have what you need and want?  How about the shoes? 
My clothes are great. I'm glad that I brought warm sweaters. My shoes are good, you were right like always mom, the brown flats are a little big so they are harder to walk in. I usually wear my brown mary janes which are also great.
What do you do when you go out into the city?  Do they give you an allowance for expenses - how does that work? 
When we go out we usually walk around the shops and buy candy or go to the post office. Or there's this really great juice place where they make the juice right then from the fruit. We like that a lot. We just use our own money for all the stuff that we buy.
Do you have regular washing machines and dryers? 
We have regular washing machines and dryers. The detergent dispenses automatically and we don't have to pay for it or anything.
What do you feel you are sacrificing by serving a mission and what do you feel you are being blessed with?
I feel like I'm sacrificing my want to be in a comfortable environment, but I am so grateful for this opportunity. I feel like I am blessed with so many things. I definitely feel that I put myself out of my comfort zone more. I definitely have a testimony of the gift of tongues and I feel like the language is improving.
One thing that I definitely want to share before I have to log off is the experience we had yesterday with our investigator Maria. We were teaching her about repentance and she read Alma 7: 11-12 and 15. After she read verse 15, she pondered for a minute and we sat in the silence. Then the Spirit just rushed in and she opened her soul to us and said that she feels lonely at times but she knows our Savior is here. She committed to being baptized next week and I am so grateful for the Spirit I felt.
I have so much more to tell you but I have to go! I love you all and missionary work is the best work!
Love you,
Sister Hicks

Friday, July 5, 2013

Should have read the CTM and the 4th of July!

The and the 4th of July!

Now to include in the blog post:
So to answer your questions Mom:
My clothes are working out great. I'm glad that I brought the warm clothes because it does get chilly here. Not anything really bad but probably in the 50s and 60s. But for the most part the weather is really beautiful.
So the only missionaries in the CTM (Center for Training Missionaries-that's how it translates in Portuguese) go to Brazil. There is a MTC in Argentina for spanish speaking missionaries in South America. The Brazilians are only here for 12 days, like English speakers are only in Provo for 12 days. They come and go so fast!
Yes, the building is very modern and super clean. I actually don't even have to use my adapter because it takes American and Brazilian plugs which is super sweet!
We went to Mr. Cheney's last P-day and it was really awesome! I don't think you can send packages of cookies but I can find out and let you know.
I'm glad you guys had a nice Fourth of July at the Sweeny's even though it was beastly hot. I missed you guys a lot yesterday since Fourth of July is such a family fun day for us! But it was super awesome, they COMPLETELY decked out the cafeteria in all this USA decor. I almost cried, it felt like home. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, and ice cream! It was as close to American as you can get in Brazil. It was so funny. We also sang the National Anthem on Tuesday night for devotional, I was very emotional. I also was decked out in red, white, and blue yesterday. I'm so glad that they tried their best to make it seem like home.
High school Spanish is helping sooooo much! It's amazing how much is coming back to me and how much I use with the hispanics or use to remember Portuguese words. It's so awesome!
So here's some random things I wrote down this week that I wanted to talk about:
So we hear about the riots from our teachers but they aren't going on anywhere near us, or if they are, we don't hear it all. It's pretty crazy how much the taxes are here though. It's 60%! I can see why they're so upset.
On Sunday night we had the CRAZIEST thunderstorm I've ever experienced in my life. For a second, I thought the protesters were bombing Sao Paulo, the thunder was so loud! All the Brazilians we talked to were like, "Yah, that's pretty normal." It was insane!
Some of the sisters call me Barbie, especially when I'm wearing my pink pjs. It's so funny. They're like, come here our Barbie! haha
On Sunday and Tuesday nights we have devotionals. It's so great. We have Mission Presidents, Area Seventy, Temple President, etc. come and speak. Very uplifting.
Although some days can be very discouraging, I know that we're supposed to go through trials. Most of my trials come from our two investigators which are challenging for us, Maria and Alessandro. But, we're making progress with both of them. Also, our two instructors are sometimes pretty hard on us, but it's just because they care about us and want us to be the best missionaries we can be.
I'm so grateful for the Spirit. Sister Skudder and I could not teach Maria or Alessandro without it. This week, we seemed to focus a lot on how the Spirit is CRITICAL in teaching. We don't teach, the Spirit teaches. I'm so grateful for this Gospel and I know that it is true. I do not have a doubt in my mind that this is Christ's restored church on the earth. I'm so thankful for our Savior and for the Atonement. I am grateful for the enabling power of the Atonement that helps us in all aspects of our life. I know that my Redeemer lives.
I love you all and I miss you so much! Thank you for all your love and support! I feel your prayers on my behalf every day. I pray for you all every day and I love you all the mostiest!
With Love,
Sister Hicks