Monday, December 30, 2013

Danilo FoI Batizado!!! Dec. 30, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, Family, and Friends,
So like the subject reads, Danilo was baptized! Yesterday was probably the happiest day I´ve ever had! So back story, Christmas eve we went to his house and talked to him and he said he was soooo close to feeling ready. So we talked to him about his doubts and he said he just hadn´t received that answer he was waiting for. Ok fast forward to Christmas day. So we went caroling which was the coolest experience evey (less actives crying in the doorway and just the Spirit was sooo strong) but anyways, after caroling we went to his house with Kaio (he´s a high councilman in our stake but super cool, just 23 years old) and Danilo´s whole family was there. We were talking about how important baptism is and he had watched the Restoration DVD twice (first time in English, he didn´t know how to change the language, haha) and then again in Portuguese. So long story short, I pulled out the baptismal form and he said, "Can we fill out the form now, I´m going to be baptized on sunday!!!!!!!"
Oh my gosh, I can´t explain how happy we were, his whole family was there and everyone was sooo happy. It was the best Christmas present I´ve ever received in my whole life! So we filled out the baptismal form and he had an interview on Saturday, everything went well, and he went to a Christmas party that we had on Friday (the activity went sooo well!!!)
Also, just side note, Danilo has so much swag, haha, we call him Will Smith because he just has this style about him, hahah it´s really funny. (Just to remember Danilo is Camilla´s brother who was baptized about 2 months ago).

So his baptismal service was really special and his whole family was there. His mom even cried (she´s next...) ;)
But the part that was the most special is what he said to us after his baptism. He pulled Sister Stolk and me aside and with tears in his eyes he said that he´d never forget this day and that he´s eternally grateful for the patience that we had with him. He said that when we started teaching him his heart was really hard and he thought he knew God but now he truly knows God and that he´ll never forget the love and the patience that we had  with him. He made me cry and it was truly the most special day in my mission. He said he was going to print the photo of us and his family that we took before his baptism and put it in his scriptures. He said that every day he´s going to thank Heavenly Father for putting us in his life. I wish you guys could have been there yesterday, I´ve never felt so happy in my entire life. I will print photos today and send them to you! Sooooo cool!!!
So a few answers to your questions,
We write emails in a little computer cafe thing, that has about 12 computers.
The language is coming along pretty well, it´s interesting sometimes people say, "Wow, your Portuguese is amazing!" and other times "I didn´t understand a word you just said..." haha but it´s all good.
So about the chicken in the car that one day, he was alive but he was just tied up laying on the floor of the car haha...

I would love some basket ball shorts from Target (the boys section, probably large, or xl) that would be great Mom! Thanks!
Oh and thank you soooo much for all the stuff you sent me mom! The purse (it´s great, I´m going to try it out soon!) loofa, purrell, everything!
Oh, so almost eveyone here (sisters) wears chacos, or something like chacos, and they are soooo comfortable (thanks Bryan and Lindsey)
And what?! UDF and Graeters ice cream!!!!!! So cool!
Haha, I´m glad you liked the chaco tan lines, pretty sweet and it´s just after six months, I already have some wicked arm tans and feet tans and it´s just going to get better!

I liked what you said about D and C 84. I need to study that section this week :)

I´m glad you liked the talk and I totally agree, definitely a special bond between a father and daughter :)

I also loved what you said that "You just get one shot at it." at a mission, I definitly don´t want to have any regrets at the end of my mission so we just have to work, work, work, and be EXACTLY obedient!
Bryan: I´m glad Christmas went well at Lindsey´s house and I hope that you guys are all doing well! I´m sure Norah is loving the karoke machine :)
Kimball: haha, so I guess I´m following in my brother´s footsteps (I accidently bought what I thought was sparkling apple cider but let´s just say that it was DEFINITELY not sparkling cider
So the food was pretty much the same here, Christmas eve we ate with the stake president and his family and it was rice (lots of rice), this gravy chicken thing, salad, fruit, and ICE CREAM! haha it was great

We actually work with a lot of recent converts and less actives, Sister Stolk and I were talking that the majority of our baptisms occurred because of working with recent converts and less actives!
That´s so crazy about your little "alien" haha, I can´t believe he´s punching and kicking so much! So crazy!
Oh and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! Congrats Kimball and Kelsey! Wow, I can´t believe it´s already been 3 years! So cool!

Well, I love you all so much and we´re not doing anything special for New Years but I know it´s going to be CRAZY here, everyone´s buying alcohol and stuff!

Well I love you the MOSTIEST! Happy New Years and thank you for all your love and prayers!
Love you the mostiest,
Sister Hicks

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

OK Now it's Really Feliz Natal! Dec. 23, 2013

Well, Feliz Natal Mom, Dad, Greg, Bryan, Lindsey, Norah, Alice, Kimball, Kelsey, Taylor, and dear friends!
CONGRATS LINDSEY AND BRYAN!!!! WOOHOO! I´m so excited for you guys!!!

So, we got an hour to email today because Wednesday, which is actually p-day we won´t be able to, but we´ll be able to call! Woohoo! It´s still so weird to think that I´ll hear from you guys!

So, it´s starting to feel like Christmas, even though it´s DEFINITELY not anywhere close to snowing :)

Oh, to start off, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I got the Christmas packages and the article from you mom! I opened the package that you wrote that I could. Thank you so much for the decoration, little toys for the kids, OREOS, and PEANUT BUTTER! haha, it´s the little things in life :) Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Mom: Aah, so sorry that your sprinkler was MIA last night. haha, if I was there, I definitely would´ve been your good ol sprinkler :)
haha, that´s really funny about the fortune cookie too. Aah, I remember "Dinner and shoes" It still lives on :) haha
Oh and tell Brother Dixon that I say hi too :)
Dad: Well, I´m emailing you right now but I´m so excited to call you too! It´ll be great! And I´m so happy to hear that the Christmas program went well too!
Kelsey: Aah, so good to hear from you Kels, I´m glad to hear that things are going well and you guys are staying warm in the cold and snow!

I´m not sure if I´ve seen a difference in people being more open during the holiday season but we´ve definitely been saying "Feliz Natal" a lot :) People here are generally very open, for example, a guy yesterday told us his whole life story just during a street contact haha but I´m sure it´s a lot easier in the states during this time
Thanks so much for sending a card, I´m sure I´ll get it soon! Thank you!!! I can´t believe you´re almost 6 months along! That´s crazy! Woohoo! I´m so excited for you! Stay warm and keep healthy :)
Kimball: That´s so exciting that Kelsey´s starting to show and everyone´s mentioning that! Aah, sooo excited!
So one thing about Christmas here is they don´t have the whole go to bed early thing. No, Christmas is midnight between Christmas eve and Christmas, so tomorrow night. Everyone stays up and has a HUGE party with food and fireworks and stuff tomorrow night. haha, I think it´ll be pretty interesting. We tried to explain to people that no, you have to go to bed early or Santa won´t come but they said no, you have to have a party and eat! haha, so there´s one tradition a little different but everyone has twinkle lights in front of the houses and people have fake Christmas trees and stuff :)
About transfers, I´ve heard that our miss president, President Nogueira wants to keep missionaries in their areas for about 6 months, as kind of a standard rule, I´m not sure exactly why but I´m super happy! I love my area!
Lindsey and Bryan: So CONGRATS again! I´m so excited for you guys! I can´t wait to hear if it´s going to be a boy or girl!
Oh, and yah, I´ve heard about the Elf on the Shelf. haha, that´s so awesome that Norah totally believes in it, love that girl! hhaha, tell Norah and Alice Merry Christmas from me!

Taylor: CONGRATS! Congratulations on getting the job at the National Archives! That´s so exciting! Way to go and $13 an hour, woohoo! I hope the weather stays pretty nice there and FELIZ NATAL! I hope you have a very, merry Christmas!

So, yesterday we had a BAPTISM! Woohoo! So last week, Thalyss, Luiz´s cousin, almost got baptized but his mom wouldn´t let him. So we just kind of let things simmer and did a lot of praying. And we went to his house on Monday I think, and we talked to his mom, and she said "Ok, he can be baptized." It was such a miracle from the Lord! It was so great! Luiz baptized him yesterday and he was so excited. It was funny, after the baptismal interview, our District leader said that he asked him, if Jesus Christ visited the Americas why are there so many people that live here that don´t believe in Christ?
He is such a cool and I´m so excited that his mom let him be baptized, very cool!

Like I wrote last week, we´re working with Danilo, Camilla´s cousin. So he went to Church yesterday and we had a great lesson with him with Kaio (he´s a high councilman that is over our branch) We talked with Danilo and he said that he knows that he needs to be baptized he´s just waiting for that answer he wants. But today we´re going to fast with him and he still has a baptismal date for this Sunday. Also Kaio explained, well if God created the world in seven days don´t you believe that he can help you feel ready to be baptized in seven days and Danilo said, well of course. Super cool! So keep Danilo in your prayers!
Funny story from the week, after we walked out of church yesterday, a drunk guy was dancing with his shirt off on top of some speakers, definitely a change in atmosphere from coming out of church, haha!
Well, that´s about all for this week and of course I´ll have lots to say on Wednesday!

But for now, Feliz Natal!

I love you the MOSTIEST!
Lots of love, hugs and kisses!
Sister Hicks

Monday, December 16, 2013

Feliz (almost) Natal - But really it's super close Dec. 16, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, Family, and Friends,

So this week was super great! I actually was in João Pessoa for three days. I was on exchanges with 3 sisters as part of my responsibility as a Sister Leader Trainer. It was really great to work with other sisters and try and help them to understand how to work more effectively. It was great to see how much the sisters really opened up and I tried to help them as best as I could. Also, I got to see the beach for the first time while we were on the bus. 

Mom: Loved the picture from the Nutcracker and Heather said that her family just adored you! They said, no wonder we love Courtney, her mom is so amazing :) Also, that is so sweet that you made a quilt! Oh my gosh, they absolutely loved it! So cool Mom, thanks, you´re so sweet! 

Dad: That´s crazy that it´s snowing so much! Heather said that the girls had 2 and a half snow days! Also, that´s kind of a bummer that you were just in buildings all day during your trip to Europe...

I really liked what you said about just going forward with faith from Sister Dew´s book. It´s so true that we just have to trust in the Lord and go forward with faith. 

Bryan: That´s great that Dean was able to visit and hope that you are doing well! 

Lindsey: LOVED the blog post! Looks like you guys had so much fun! That´s so funny about Norah and a rocket ship! haha, I wonder where she got that from? haha and the never-ending Christmas music. haha, good old Pandora :)

I really love being a Sister Leader Trainer. It´s hard to not be in your area for a few days but it´s so rewarding to help other sisters. 

So this week was pretty great. It´s definitely interesting to work in other areas. I was in João Pessoa which is a lot different than my area in Queimadas. There´s way more condos and it´s hard to get in because they all have gates with codes. But it was so great to see the work progressing in other areas.

So yesterday we had stake conference which was really cool. It was a broadcast from Salt Lake and Elder Ballard spoke along with other General Authorities. There were two seventies that spoke that are Brazilian. They talked about how much the work is progressing in Brasil. It seemed like almost the entire conference was about missionary work. Also, Sister Marriot, from the Primary Presidency spoke. She definitely has an accent, she just served as a mission president´s wife in Brasil. One of our investigators (he´s 10 years old) asked me if she was my mom. I think just because of the accent, haha, it was pretty great. 

Also, as we were returning to Queimadas (our branch just rented a school bus) the driver stopped and picked up a group of church goers from another congregation that were returning to Queimadas too. hahah, it was so funny to see the look on their faces as they entered a bus with a bunch of Mormons returning from church hahaha

So we had an amazing lesson with Danilo (Camilla´s (recent convert) brother). He´s investigating the church and he really wants to know. He always reads the things we leave with him and he was teaching US about how important the law of chastity is. Super cool and he has a marked baptismal date for December 29

Also, Diego, our recent convert received the Melcezidek priesthood yesterday!!! It was so cool to see him stand up during Stake Conference! Wow, he´s so great and it´s just so cool to see the progress :)

Well, I think next week, Christmas will be p-day, so don´t be worried if you don´t receive an email on Monday

I love you all and Feliz Natal!!!!

I hope you are all doing well and staying warm :)

I love you the MOSTIEST!!!

Sister Hicks

Monday, December 9, 2013

Feliz (almost) Natal! December 9, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, Family, and Friends,
I hope this letter finds everyone happy and well! This week was a pretty great week and I´m so happy that I´m staying in Queimadas! Woohoo! We´re definitely in full Christmas season here and it´s pretty funny to hear Christmas music when it´s about 90 degrees outside and super sunny! But it´s definitely a fun experience! It´s also funny to see fake Christmas trees that have the fake white snow on the branches. haha, almost EVERYONE here wants to see snow. They always ask us, Does it snow where you live? haha, it´s definitely the little things that we take for granted :)

I´m glad you guys got the letters and the pictures. That´s cool that you were in Germany, I can´t believe how expensive those nativities were! Oh my goodness...but super neat too
I liked what you said about how it´s really cool that as sisters we have to involve the members from the very beginning. It´s really cool to see that the members really are part of the baptism. We had another baptism yesterday. Her name´s Severina and she´s a friend of an inative lady in our branch, Maria da Guia. They live right next to each other. Severina went to church for the first time two weeks ago with Maria and she really liked it. The next week she couldn´t go but we talked to her and she decided that she wanted to be baptized so yesterday she went to church again and we had the baptismal service after church. 

Also, another really cool thing, Diego, one of our investigators that was baptized a few weeks ago, passed the sacrament yesterday. It was so cool to see him wearing a white shirt with a tie, passing the sacrament. The young men in the branch were so kind and helpful. He did a great job and it´s so cool to see the progress that he is making. Also, his stepson Angelo, went to church yesterday too. He´s an inactive but I hope that he´ll start coming back to church :)

Also, I loved what you said about Alma 26:22. I love this scripture too and I love the two parts. What we have to do and what the Lord will do in response. It´s so cool to really start to understand our covenants and the promises from the Lord. 

I really am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a Sister Leader Trainer. This week, Wednesday and Thursday, I´m going to go to João Pessoa with my Sister Leader Trainer companion, Sister Mitchell. It really will be so cool to get to know other sisters and also President and Sister Nogueira. I hope that I´ll be able to help these sisters. Also, I can´t believe that I almost have 6 months in the mission. I can´t believe how fast the time flies and I can´t believe how much I am growing and learning. 

Dad, that is sooo cool about the experience that you had in the airport. You really did touch their lives that day and I´m definitely learning too how important it is to understand and act on the promptings from the Holy Ghost that we receive. 

Bryan: Wow, I can´t believe the crazy weather that you guys are having in Dallas! wow! I hope you guys are safe and that Lindsey and Alice feel better soon! Keep safe and keep warm! 

Oh Mom, just a random question for you, what do you think is the best way to wash my leather bag that I have? Any tips?

So we had a really great zone meeting this week. It was a little crazy because it was my first time helping out with one (the Zone Leaders and the Sister Leader Trainers are the missionaries that plan and execute the zone meetings). But we focused a lot on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I had such a powerful experience during the zone meeting. We had a time for pondering and reflection. The Spirit was so strong. We listened to music and read Mosiah 14:4-12. I love this part that talks about the power of the Atonement and what Christ suffered for each and every one of us. 

I am only beginning to understand the full magnitude of the Savior´s suffering for us. I am so grateful for the Atonement and for the gift that we have to repent. 

I am doing well and I am super happy. I hope that you all have a great week and I love you the MOSTIEST! 

Oh also, I haven´t heard anything more about how it works to call or skype on Christmas but I´ll let you know soon!

Love you all!
Sister Hicks

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Got the Packages and the Letters - THANKS!!! December 4, 2013

Hey Mom, Dad, Family, and Friends,
Well it sure is the Christmas season QUEIMADAS! I wasn´t transfered and I´m so happy that I get to stay here in Queimadas, and the best part, all 4 of us, Sister Johnson, Sister Shirts, and Sister Stolk, we all are still here in Quimadas together! It´s gonna be a American/Brazilian Christmas with 4 American sisters in Queimadas! haha!

Oh and also, I got the package Mom! Thank you sooooo much! Ah, lotion, purrell, the cute little London socks, head band, NORMAL deodorant (woohoo!!!), razor heads, everything! Thanks Mom! Also, I got the letters too! Thank you! I didn´t open the 2 letters that were in the red envelopes because they seemed like they´re for Christmas, or can I open them now? But, thank you so much!!! You´re the best Mom!
So, one crazy change that happened this week. I´ve been called to be a Sister Leader Trainer, which means that I´ll go on splits with other sisters and help them out. I´ll have a Sister Leader Trainer companion (that I´ll travel with) and we´ll have about 4 companionships of sisters that we´ll be responsible for. The cool thing is that I´ll be able to see a lot of the mission and that I´ll be able to learn so much from other sisters. It´s pretty crazy because I only have 3 transfers here but I´m so ready to learn and grow. Because of this, I went to João Pessoa on Monday morning for a meeting with all the Zone leaders, other Sister Leader Trainers, APs, and Pres and Sister Nogueira. We talked about the numbers and goals in our mission and then we had a training which was so great. After we had lunch in the chapel and we went to the mission office to get packages and letters. All go to Joõa Pessoa (normally) every first Tuesday of the month to have this meeting with all the mission leadership. I felt so lost and overwhelmed but I´m so grateful for this opportunity that I have too. And the cool thing is that it will be for the entire length of my mission :) Also, the training that we had was so cool. It was about redemption and the Atonement. We read in Mosiah 14:4-12. Such a great chapter, we talked about how if we really understand the Atonement we will want to share the Gospel with EVERYONE! Such a great meeting and the Spirit was so strong.
Mom: Well, I´m so glad to hear that you all made it safely to Dallas. I guess I really do mess up the travel plans in our family :) I laughed out loud when I read about what Greg said, "I hate when that happens" haahaha, all of the sisters that I live with already love Greg because of all the stories that I share, like, "Go back, go back go back go back!" haha Sister Johnson said, wow, you really do have a lot of funny stories because of Greg! :)
So, I still haven´t heard anything about how phone calls work for Christmas, I heard that you can skype but that it doesn´t work very well so I think it´d be easier to just call but I´ll ask for more information and get back to you.
I´m glad everything went well for Thanksgiving and HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALICE! I´m glad to hear that she had a great horse birthday party!
Also, wow, no black Friday shopping Mom? Woah! :) haha
So I can´t really remember what we ate for Thanksgiving, obviously they don´t celebrate it hear, I can´t remember what we had for lunch (well probably rice and beans) and dinner we just grabbed some bread rolls from the local bakery haha :)
So the only other thing I can think of to send would be peanut butter, it´s wicked expensive here! 20 reais (10 bucks) and it´s super small size but I´m craving peanut butter :) Thanks Mom! Just when you get a chance!
So Ana Claudia´s baptism went really well. Her mom didn´t attend but her siblings and inactive aunt came which was cool! So happy for her and on Sunday she received the Holy Ghost!
Exciting about my room too! Can´t wait to see it! :)
 I´m glad to hear that the trip to Dallas went well and you´re sure right, it is SUPER hot here but it fun to see fake Christmas trees and garland with fake snow on it, hahah, in 90 degree weather! But you´re so right, I just want to soak everything in about the Christmas culture here! It´s going to be so cool and I just can´t wait!
Oh one funny tradition (not relating to Christmas) that I found out recently. So here in Brasil, or at least Paraíba, when you lose a tooth you don´t put it under your pillow, you throw it up on top of your roof! haha, not kidding, we were with a little kid and he showed us his tooth that fell out and then he threw it on the roof! :) just a little funny tradition in Brasil :)
I really liked what you said about faith Dad. It is such a critical aspect of our lives and especially with missionary work. This morning during companionship study Sister Stolk and I were talking about how we can help our investigator, Paula, really gain a testimony. She wants to know so bad that the Church is true and we´re trying to show her that she just needs to exercise her faith. She´s a really great young woman and she has such a desire to know! She´s always going to seminary and she´s been to church 2 times already :) Oh so Kimball, in response to your question, Paula is one of our investigators that is progressing really well!
Lindsey: I´m totally with you Linds, I love Martinelli´s and I actually saw sparkling cider in the super market this past week so we´re definitely going to buy some for Christmas! Woohoo! haha

I´m so glad to hear that the party went well for Alice and that they didn´t lose any fingers feeding the horses! :)
Kimball: Wow I can´t even imagine 6 degrees and snowing, haha it seems like a totally different world. Everyone is mesmerized when we tell them that it snows where we live. EVERYONE wants to see snow, it´s so cool. It´s crazy that we sometimes take for granted such little things like seeing snow but I can´t imagine how cold it much be up there in Chicago, brrrr! Keep warm and keep Black Bear warm! :)

So funny story from yesterday, we were talking to a lady in the street yesterday, probably about 65, 70 years old and she was about to eat a popsicle when she asked us, oh do you want some, we said no, no, we´re fine but she insisted so we Sister Stolk and I took a few bites and then she ate the rest. Haha, it was such a sweet and hilarious experience that would never happen in the US, or rarely would happen. haha, she was so sweet and cute!
So we have some new mission rules. One of them is that we can´t email people of the opposite sex (just family). So that´s a pretty big change, it´s just for our mission but I know that a lot of people aren´t going to like it, but I loved what Kimball wrote in my journal that just always obey the mission president no matter what.

Oh side note Mom: could you get a hold of Sister Schmutz, Connor Schmutz randomly wrote me last week but I can´t respond because of the new mission rule. Thanks Mom!
Oh and so cute, Julia, Heather´s daughter, sent me a Flat Stanley that I´ll take around with me and snap a few pictures! So cute! :)
Oh, so we live above a store that sells furniture and they´re always playing music, and one of my favorite songs, Home, by Jason Mraz is always playing. haha love that song and it´s funny to hear it about 10 times a day!
Also, we had another baptism this week, Vito! He´s a young man and it was really great! It was funny, he was having difficulties understanding that we don´t pray to Maria, but after a few lessons, he finally said that he understood that we don´t pray to her but we pray to God. But he´s doing well and going to seminary too!

Well my time´s almost up but it´s so good to hear from you all! Thank you again for the package and letters! I love you all so much and you all are always in my prayers!

Lots of love,
I love you the MOSTIEST!
Sister Hicks