Happy New Year! It's hard for me to comprehend how the year 2013 has flown by so quickly. During this year:
- I received my mission call to serve as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Brazil Natal mission speaking Portuguese.
- I reported to the Provo Missionary Training Center where I spent six weeks struggling to learn the Portuguese language and preparing to teach people about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with the Elders and Sisters I grew to love in District 69E and where I experienced some of the greatest happiness and purest joy I have ever experienced in my life.
- I received my mission reassignment (or second mission call) to serve in the Tennessee Nashville Mission speaking English; I entered the mission field in the Murfreesboro Christiana area where I had my first experiences tracting and teaching lessons to real investigators and where I began to comprehend the ups and downs of missionary work. I felt some of the greatest sorrow, frustration, and disappointment, but I also felt some of the greatest joy, hope, and love as I taught others about the Restored Gospel and invited them to follow the example of Christ and be baptized.
- I was transferred to the McMinnville North Jamestown area, where I have gotten to know and teach some amazing children of God with two amazing daughters of God who I have grown to love so much in the three weeks we have known each other so far.
It has been an amazing year during which I have grown and changed so much. Heavenly Father has blessed me so much and I am so grateful to be here now serving as a full-time Sister Missionary in the Tennessee Nashville Mission. I expect great things will happen in the year 2014 and I am excited to be where The Lord wants me to be to see these things come to pass when they do.
We had an awesome Super P-Day on New Year's Day! We met up with our zone in Cookville and played games and watched "Monsters University."
Highlights of the week & things I learned this week:
- I am in missionary schedule mode. Although we were allowed to sleep in on Super P-Day, I still woke up at 6:30 and just lay in bed until 7.
- Dogs can feel the Spirit! Ever since I got to Jamestown we have visited with a less active member who has a hyperactive dachshund named Sugar who barks, jumps, and crawls all over us every time we visit. I have been attempting to use some dog whisperer methods with her, but I need to focus on the message we're sharing so it hasn't worked out too well. When we went to the member’s house on Thursday, it was the same drill - a lot of barking and jumping. The member didn't get to hear Presidnet Uchtdorf's talk in October Conference so we decided to watch it with her. I was worried that none of us would be able to hear what President Uchtdorf was saying due to Sugar's consistent barking. However, as soon as the video started and President Uchtdorf started talking, sugar's demeanor changed. Instead of barking or jumping or trying to play with us, she got really quiet and eventually crawled into my lap and sat there silently for the majority of the talk. It was pretty amazing. Then, after the clip ended, Sugar went back to her normal self and started barking and trying every which way to get our attention. Dogs can feel the Spirit! E verdadeiro!
- We did a Stop Smoking Workshop with Mary [name changed] this week! We were so excited and she was too. We will be praying for Mary every day this week. I have faith that, with the Lord's help, she will be a nonsmoker and will be celebrating with her next Saturday. This is both my companions’ and my first Stop Smoking Workshop, so we are excited to see it work. I ask that you pray for her too this week. She did smoke half of a cigarette Sunday morning out of reflex, but we hope that she will be able to stay strong this week.
- This week I ate deer meat for the first time. Sister Reagan and Mary made chili for us for lunch before the Stop Smoking workshop. They didn't tell us it was deer. It tasted kind of like lamb to me. I wasn't a huge fan of it, but I ate it. Then, right before I finished, Melissa asked us how we liked deer meat. Then it all clicked in my head (The taste fit the animal). I finished the chili in my bowl. However, after hearing what the chili was made from, Sister Leavens, who was only halfway done, couldn't eat anymore. Sister Jones was fine with it. She thought it was pretty good. I guess I was expecting to try new, exotic food on my mission, but deer meat definitely wasn't on my list, but that's cool. Elder Zabriske, our district leader, says squirrel is pretty good too. I guess we'll have to find someone who can make squirrel dumplings for us sometime soon.
- President just emailed me and told me that I received my visa and will be flying to Brazil next Monday on January 13th. My companions can tell you that I went into shock when I found out. I'm still in shock. I don't know what to think or how to feel. I'm literally shivering and it's not because of all the cold and snow we're having right now. (My companions and I literally had to link arms to stop ourselves from getting blown away by the wind and snow as we walked to the library this morning.)
I love y’all so much!