Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Getting Pretty Warm Here! October 28, 2013

Bom Dia Mãe, Pãe, Família, e Amigos,
So as the subject of this email refers to, it´s getting pretty warm here in Queimadas. The main thing is that the sun is just so strong but it´s funny because now I´m just so used to sweating it doesn´t even bother me. I just remember that I´m going to be hot no matter what and I´m going to sweat no matter what so it doesn´t really make a difference either way haha! But I´m definitely using sun screen everyday! Because of my chacos, I have some wicked tan lines on my feet! haha, I´ll take a picture and send it to you guys soon! I just mailed a whole bunch of pictures on Friday so you guys should get them fairly soon.
Oh about the other package, so the secretaries from the mission office called and said the other package is stuck in the post office because of customs or something but basically I have to pay 60 us dollars to get it out or they can send it back to you guys. I just chose to pay the 60 dollars and then I´ll get it. They said there was something in there that had more worth. I don´t know what but I should get it next week when the Zone leaders go to João Pessoa.  I can´t think of anything else that I need right now! You´re the best Mom!
LOVED the picture of Greg! So cute and so LL Bean model haha! And also the tree in front of the house! Wow, so cool!
Nossa! (Nossa is short for Nossa Senhora Maria something, basically people say Nossa when something is surprising or crazy) So, "nossa!" the dinner party that you had! I can´t believe all the things that went wrong! But I´m glad to hear that it turned out well in the end!

hahah, FINALLY your prayers were answered with regards to the heat in the RS room. haha, that´s funny that everyone was blaming you.
So, it really is such a blessing that almost everyone is willing to talk to us. I know that in bigger cities in our mission, the missionaries have a harder time and I can´t even imagine in the States or in Europe. We really are blessed.
And don´t worry, I´m definitely keeping a journal, haven´t missed a day yet!
Thanks for the scripture from 2 Chronicles and the short quote, The Lord wants you to succeed. So true!

That´s so cool that you got to talk to so many Brazilians when you were in NYC! You´re exactly right, in Portuguese and especially where I am you kind of draw out the words and what you described is exactly what it´s like here.

I´m glad to hear that you finally returned to our ward and I hope the ward is helping to reactivate you ;)
 It really is so true that Heavenly Father will true help us to improve and our weaknesses can become strengths. I remember when Sister Johnson and I arrived together in Queimadas it was really hard. Especially for Sister Johnson because she served in the Rochester Mission for 3 months while she was waiting for her visa. I remember that one day during personal study I was reading in Ether 12 and we were talking about how it´s hard for us but how much harder it was for Joseph Smith. She gave me a leaf from the Sacred Grove that she had picked while she was there. I still have it and I always am reminded of Joseph Smith when I read those scriptures.
I always liked what you said "Be safe, be smart, and work hard." It really is true that we just need to get to work. :)
Taylor: It really is true that here in Brasil there are a lot of religions. Just in Queimadas there are a lot of churches. The Catholic church is definitely the main church, it´s right in the center of town but there are a lot of other churches as well.
Oh and we have 1 hour to email :)
That´s really cool about how important the temple is with regards to retention rates in the church. It really is true that the temple makes all the difference!
Also, things are GREAT with my companion! I love Sister Stolk! I think the best quality about her is that she loves to laugh! She really has such a gift for finding the funny moments and just taking time to laugh! haha :)
And I really am glad that I´m staying here in Queimadas! It´s so great! I tell everyone that I don´t want to leave!

So Lucas wasn´t baptized this week. He needs to work on not lying and we just didn´t feel like he was ready but yesterday during Church he was crying because he wanted to be baptized. We talked to him and explained why he couldn´t and that he need to make some changes this week but that he could the following week so it should be a great week!
Also, it really is true that the Atonement is so powerful and my testimony is growing so much. I truly want to share the message of the Atonement (Expiacão) with everyone!
haha, how cute, Norah and her question about the planets, haha good idea to defer to Bryan, I´d do the same thing :)
So this week was pretty great! We had a lot of great lessons and it is so amazing how willing people are to listen. It really is so true that we are so lucky to be serving in an area, mission, and country that is so warm and welcoming. Also, the people are so willing to help. I am always amazed by how warm and friendly everyone is.
Yesterday was a little hard. Yesterday morning before church as we were going around and getting all of our investigators to go to church a young woman that we´re teaching Mika, she said that she didn´t feel like going to church. It was really sad because we had the coolest lesson with her on Saturday. I finished reciting the first vision and she had goosebumps on her arms. She asked what it was and we told her that it was the Spirit. It was SUCH a spiritual lesson. And then it was so heartbreaking that the next day she didn´t feel like going to church. Big bummer...
But another blessing happened just a few minutes later, there was a little girl (9 years old) and she was standing in the street. We were so frustrated because no one was saying that they would go to church, but we asked her if she wanted to and she said yes. Then we went and talked to her mom and the mom said she didn´t want to but then just a few seconds later she decided to go and she loved Church! And the coolest part is that her younger sister was already baptized about 2 years ago. The mom (Solanja) and her daughter (Ingridi) are so great. Solanja said that the elders that taught her sister Angelica barely spoke Portuguese but Angelica decided to be baptized. And Solanja and Ingridi accepted to be baptized this Sunday. Solanja is feeling a little confused because she was already baptized in the Catholic church but she said that if she really feels like she should she´ll be baptized :)
Well, I have to go but thank you so much for the emails and the support and the prayers! I really do appreciate and I am strengthened by your prayers!

Thank you for everything and know that I love and miss you all the MOSTIEST!
Lots of love, hugs, and kisses!

Sister Hicks
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ola' from Queimedas October 23, 2013

Hey Mom, Dad, dear family, and friends!

So I´m happy to report that I´m still in Queimadas! Woohoo! I really didn´t want to leave so I have at least 6 more weeks here! The only thing that happened is that Sister Fernandes left and she´s training a new sister in a different area. So now Sister Johnson is finishing training Sister Shirts and I´m still training Sister Stolk. It´s a little crazy though because it´s just us 4 Americans in our house! haha, but it´s a lot of funny! We rarely speak in English which is good and we have so much fun together!
Mom: First off, I got your package!!!! Thank you so much! I was so excited when I got it and thank you so much for the candy, baking mixes (great idea) and the Purrell!!!!! :) haha, so much better than the hand sanitizer they have here! thank you thank you thank you!
That it so funny about the Gold Cup. I definitely remember when we went. I can only imagine how much Greg liked it. And, oh my goodness, I can´t believe that the number 2 horse actually won! hahah, that is hilarious.
I´m glad to hear that you liked the letters and picures I sent. haha, I didn´t think about Greg and the thumbs up but I can definitely imagine him doing the thumbs up with us in the pictures haha
Dad: Thanks for the talks that you sent! I can´t wait to read them today! I was so excited when I got them and it totally made my day! I love reading anything I can get my hands on, and especially your talks! :)
Thanks for the advice about seeing the good. Sister Stolk and I were just talking a few days ago about how important it is to laugh at the funny and ridiculous things that happen.
I still feel so blessed that I got my visa when I did. It truly was a blessing from Heavenly Father.

I really like what you wrote about charity. Moroni 7 really is such a great chapter!
I haven´t done that activity in Chap 6 yet. I´m going to do it this week. I agree that it´s a really good way to see your progress and development.
It is definitely getting hotter here! Really hot, in November, December, and January it´s going to get up into the 100s. Also, the real reason it´s so hot is because the sun is so strong here!
I like all the names that you wrote, maybe not Bristol but all the other ones I like (haha not like it´s my choice :)
So this week waqs really great, we had another baptism! Woohoo! His name is José and he´s 13 years old. We ran into him as we were walking to church two weeks ago and he ended up coming with us. Then we talked about baptism with him and agreed to be baptized. But throughout the week he was kind of indecisive about baptism and on Friday he said that he didn´t want to. But Saturday morning, in Campina, the youth had a huge activity and the LZs (Zone leaders) were there and were doing baptism interviews so they just ended up doing the interview and the elders talked to him and he changed his mind! haha, it was a real surprise but really cool!
So, I don´t know if I already wrote about this but the branch missionaries in our branch are AMAZING! There all youth and they are so excited about working with us. There are four young men and 2 young woman. The young woman were just barely called but the young men are amazing. It´s Renato (our baptism), Luiz, Thalisson, and Julio. Yesterday they made name tags that say "Missionarios do Ramo" Branch missionaries, and they look like ours. It was so cool to see them and they definitely looked like Elders, I´ll send a pic. They´re so cool!
Also, Sister Stolk and I are trying to do what the APs do during contacts in the street. So, we just talk to them and we don´t "invite" them to church we just say, So, you´ll come to church with us this Sunday! haha it really works because you can really tell who will actually go and who won´t. Also, then we tell them that we´re going to have a baptismal service the following week and we ask them if they´ll be baptized. We only ask for the address if they accept baptism! It´s so cool because there are so many people here that are so willing and accepting. Of course we talk to a ton of people but there really are the elect of our Heavenly Father here that are just waiting to be asked. It´s so cool!
Also, Lucas, one of our investigators (young man) that´s going to be baptized this Sunday, his mom was talking to us and she said that she was talking to one of her friends. This friend said that earlier in the day she talked to two American young girls and that she barely understood anything of what they said. hahah, it was soooo funny because we knew it was us. haha, we definitely find things to laugh about. :)
Also, we tried this juice this week made from the fruit of graviola. It is soooo good! You should look it up in the internet!
Also, we had a really funny visit with an inactive lady Gracileite, and her mom whose not a member. Her mom was a little crazy and she said that she didn´t like the church when she went because she just needs to pray and God always gives her everything she needs, this is her religion, but it was just so funny how she was so adamant and the way she was talking, Sister Stolk almost lost it laughing and me too! haha, I barely held myself together, ahahaha
Well, I love you all so much and the field is soooo white and already to harvest here in Queimadas! I´m going to send more photos today! Woohoo!

Thank you so much for your love and support! I love you the MOSTIEST!

With  much love, hugs, and kisses,
Sister Hicks

Monday, October 14, 2013

Greetings from Queimadas October 14, 2013

Hey Mom, Dad, Family, and Friends,
Thank you so much for your continual love and support, you guys are the best! I really do appreciate and look forward to reading your emails!
Dad: Wow, you´re still just as busy as always! Wow! Paris, ward conferences, NYC soon! That would be so cool Mom if you could spend a few days in the Big Apple too :)

I really loved Elder Holland´s talk too! It was so inspirational and moving. I thought he did such a great job with such a delicate subject. I really loved the talk he gave. It was so personal and inspiring.
That is sooo cool about the service mission video that the Church is making and how cool that they interviewed you! What?! haha, I don´t know if I´ll get a chance to see it but you´ll have to keep me updated!
That´s cool that BYU was winning haha, I hope they won in the end. :)
That´s still so cool that you guys are such good friends with Elder Porter and his wife. I always tell people about Elder Carlson too and how his calling was to watch Greg so that you guys could enjoy church!
I´m glad that Sister Smith enjoyed the dress and that the activity went well. How cute of Mikelle to say that :)

Wow, that´s so funny, I didn´t even realize I wrote pesquisador (investigator). I really I´m thinking a lot in Portuguese so I guess that is a good sign and it´s getting a little bit harder to write in English, not hard, but I have to think a little more than usual.

Wow, Greg is so awesome, what a dude, haha. And that´s so funny about the flu shot too :)
I´m glad to hear Em´s doing well and that the water on the bathroom sink isn´t a problem anymore haha :)
You should really go to NYC, you deserve a break! :)
Oh and transfers are next week so I´ll write on Wednesday, just so you know :)

Lindsey: It´s spring now but it´s definitely getting hotter. It is weird to think that it´s October and it´s so hot but it will get even hotter (100s) in December and January.

Thanks for giving me so much praise for killing the roaches haha, yah you could say there are quite a few here ;)
So we still help a lot with the recent converts but the Branch missionaries and the members help a lot too which is great.
Bryan: I loved the blog post and it looked like you guys had a lot of fun at the State Fair. I hope things start to improve with Alice...haha :)
I felt the same way about conference too. It really seemed to be focused on exactly what I needed to hear. haha, that´s so cute about your sunbeams, it really is true that we need to remember to love ALL of God´s creatures :)
We really don´t look like each other (Sister Stolk and I) I think it´s just that we´re white and have an American accent haha
I´m glad to hear that Kimball and Blackbear are doing well even though Kimball´s really busy.

I don´t have any ideas right now but I´ll start thinking haha :) I hope you keep staying healthy!

So this week was really great! To answer your questions Mom:
What is something interesting or unexpected about the culture there?  So, one thing that is interesting is that people always say "If God wants it," like when we invite them to go to church, a lot of people answer, "If God wants, I will." I always respond, "Of course He wants you too, it´s one of His commandments to go to church." haha

What new thing have you learned about yourself ?  I really have learned a lot about myself. I´ve learned that I need to have more patience and put my trust in Heavenly Father. I was worried on Saturday night that our investigators wouldn´t go to church for a lot of reasons, but Sister Fernandes and Sister Johnson reminded me that we did our part and He´ll do His part.
About the gospel? I´ve really learned the importance of baptism. I always knew that it´s important but it really is essential for salvation. I´m still learning more and more each day.
 What are the things that really connect with the people you teach? I think knowing that Heavenly Father really has a plan for each and every one of us and that we really have two purposes for living here on earth: To be happy and to prepare to return to live with Heavenly Father.

I love to hear about day to day things - doing laundry, shopping, cooking, things you guys joke about: Wow, we really joke around a lot. Sister Fernandes always jokes about the "pains" of living with 4 American sisters, haha, she´s hilarious. Umm, I really love how we have a little place to buy fresh bread every day, I love the bread here!
So, yesterday Camila was baptized. She is 18 years old and she´s been investigating the church for a while. We didn´t really teach her that much. She´s really good friends with the branch president´s wife and another young woman but she finally decided that she was ready. It was such a great baptism and her whole family came too. They´re not members so we´re going to start working with them too! It was so great to have so many visitors at the baptism!

Well, I promise to write more but I never seem to have enough time! Thank you for all your love and support! I love you the mostiest!

Sister Hicks