Of the 7 billion people, 152 countries, 418 missions, and an innumerable number of cities and small towns, I was chosen by divine inspiration to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Brazil Manaus Mission (the best of the best ). There is much preparation to be done when called as a missionary. Clothes to buy, shots and medical exams to be done, documents to fill out, etc. You have to think about everything you are going to need for a year and a half.... I think my mom knows best, it was a stressful process!! But in reality, when I passed through the airport security and I couldn't see my family anymore, it all hit me. I had NO idea what I had gotten myself into. I had two suitcases packed full, but was I actually prepared?
As the long, hot days, weeks and months have passed by I realized that it doesn't matter how old we are or our circumstances, we have so much to learn and so many people to serve. I am completely different now than I was when I left home. My outlook on life has been broadened, my undeniable testimony has grown, my love for my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has deepened. In one year and six months I learned MANY lessons that would have otherwise taken me yeeeaars, but the biggest lesson I have learned is that in reality, I still have so much to learn. My heart aches as I have to leave this beautiful country and all the friends I have made here; however, it would all be in vain if I go home and return to my old habits. I have to take all the knowledge that I have gained and put it into practice at home. I am ready to serve and dedicate my life to this gospel. I am so grateful for the eternal perspective that a mission has given me. Our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson explains it perfectly when he said, ``Decisions determine destiny.`` Before my mission I thought only days, weeks or years ahead (which yes is important sometimes), but now I am more worried about the eternal family that I will establish and the small decisions that have to make now to one day return to live with God.
I know with all my heart that this church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are sacred scriptures given to guide us in these latter-days, I know that the Priesthood is real, and I know that God is literally my Heavenly Father. He knows me, loves me and is aware of me. I have passed through some of the hardest experiences in these 18 months, but through it all I have 100% felt the Holy Ghost and celestial angels guiding, comforting, and protecting me. Many times these celestial angels were just ordinary people or the members in the wards where I served.
Even if you just sent me an email one time... I would like to thank you for the support and prayers. I am beyond blessed to have such wonderful friends and the best family!!! Your words of encouragement have helped me not give up and finish out strong :) THANK YOU!!!! What a sacred time it has been to serve as a representative our our Savior, Jesus Christ. If I had to go back, I would do it all over again.
BUT all I have to say now is see y'all on Wednesday!!!!!!!!!!!! ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
P.S. Thanks for all of your prayers about my memory card! A dear sister in the ward found it under her kitchen table when she was cleaning! Prayers are answered!!!!
The closer I get to coming home, the less I am writing. I think I'm trying to enjoy every last second! I lost my memory card this week :( Please pray that I find it!
And it is Carnival this week...which is terrible for missionaries.
Saying goodbye to some families in Adrianópolis :((
Lunch :) With a sweet family that made so much food for us!!
My companion and I were transferred to a different area, so I don't have time to write today! Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! Thanks for all of the love you've shown me while I've been here in Brazil! Much love to you all!!!! XOXO
It was my last mission council with all the Sister Training Leaders and Zone Leaders :(
Today we had a ``pday of health`` where we had to do exercises as a zone and do a bunch of other tests and stuff! It was fun :) Sorry a few of the pictures are blurry...it's so hot here!!!
And I am sending a picture of the nasty worm thing that we found in our shower!! It was huge...I don't think I am going to miss this part of Manaus! hahaha!!
No time to write individual emails today! But know that I am doing great! The mission is awesome, and I am so thankful to be serving the Lord. The people of Manaus are amazing!! I can't believe I'll be home in 50 days!!!
Tuesday and Friday I went on splits :) During our division on Friday I got into my first real Bible bash!!!! We had just began our lesson with my recent convert when two older ladies from a different church walked in. They just bashing the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. They told our recent convert in front of us that she couldn´t be baptized in our church and a whole bunch of other stuff. After about 3 minutes our recent convert turned to them and said, ``I prayed and received and answer!! I choose this church and I actually have already been baptized in the Mormon church. I just haven´t had time to go and talk to your pastor about it yet!!!`` It was awesome!!!!
Other than that our week was pretty normal. Sister Peters and Sister da Rosa were emergency transferred so now it is just me and my comp at our apartment. Also Sister Peters gave me a mac and cheese that she got in her package!!! It was so yummy!! And here is a picture of my wall in front of my desk :)
So sorry...I don't have time for a group email this week. But here are some pictures. And I LOVED my Christmas box from home! Thank you to everyone that sent a special gift! I am so blessed!!
Meeting with all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders
Look my pic is on the board at the mission office of the next group that goes home!!!!!!!!!! I cropped the other missionaries out for privacy reasons.
Pictures from Christmas and New Years! I was sick at the Mission Christmas Conference with an pretty severe eye infection. I actually had to leave the Christmas party to go to the doctor; hence, the reason I'm not in the group picture. You can tell I don't feel well. And that's the reason for the glasses. :/
But...I'm doing SO much better. I've been battling the eye infection off and on for a few months, so to be on antibiotics and feeling better is awesome! I'm back to wearing my contacts again. Wahoo!!
I got a package from Grammy and Grandpa and my friend, Cal. It was so nice to get some treats and love from home. Mom and Dad, your package didn't make it here by Christmas. It is being held in customs, but I expect it to get here in the next few weeks. No problem!
**Note: The picture of us at the temple does not have some fancy filter on it. Manaus is really that hot and humid! Fun times!!