Sunday, December 27, 2015

12/21/2015: Week 14 - Feliz Natal

Hello and Feliz Natal!

This week has been really busy. We had splits, the ward Christmas party, and got locked in the chapel! I am really looking forward to this next week (CHRISTMAS), and for the opportunity to talk to my family. :)

Splits: I was able to spend the day with the lovely Sister L! She is our Sister Trainer, and I was a little bit nervous to show her the area and to teach with her at first. However, we had a blast and were able to teach five lessons and gain six new investigators in one day. That was a miracle. I was able to gain more confidence in my teaching, and my Portuguese as well. All in all, it went crazy well and I loved Sister L.

Ward Christmas Party: As always, I enjoyed the ward Christmas party. One member gave us Panettone, which is a type of fruitcake. Thankfully, he gave us a chocolate flavored one, because I am not too fond of the fruit variety. Brazilians are crazy about Panettone. Anyways, the party was full of salgados and cakes and all sorts of good food. We also took a picture with the bishop.
Locked in the Chapel: One night, Sister G and I, along with the other sisters, were in the chapel calling people and confirming appointments for the next day, All of a sudden, we see a random man yelling "moças" (young women/girls) from outside of the church. Sister G ran to the door and locked it, and we hid in the church for a good ten minutes until we were able to call a member to drive us home.

I hope you all have a very very Merry Christmas, and have a good time celebrating the birth of our Savior. I love you all!

Sister Christensen

Monday, December 14, 2015

12/14/2015: Week 13 - Christmas Challenge

Hello world!

This week we had the opportunity to go to the temple with A and A! We talked with them about temples, and about eternal families. I always love teaching about families. There is no greater blessing in this world than our families. I love my family more than anything, and I love being able to share the message that we can live with our families in happiness for eternity. And there is no better place on Earth to talk about familes than at the temple! 

This week was also a bit sad. The father of one of our investigators, R, forbid us to teach him anymore. It was even more sad considering his baptism was marked for this week. But as Sister G said, God will watch out for him. I hope that he continues to make good decisions and that some missionaries will find him in the future. He's a good kid.

We also had a lesson this week with a teenager and a ten year old member. As we were teaching the teenager, she expressed doubt about the Book of Mormon being another testament of Jesus Christ. We didn't have time to explain before the ten year old took over the lesson and said "I told you, you have to read and pray about it. Thats the only way you are going to know." I am pretty sure she could have taught the lesson better than I could. I love hearing the simple and profound testimonies of children. You could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice that she knew the church was true -- and she wasn't afraid to share it with her friend. 

So here is my invitation. Share the message of Christmas with someone, whether it is at work, with friends, or even online. If you don't know how, mormon.org has a bunch of wonderful videos about the birth of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas that you can share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. At times we tend to forget what Christmas is really about. The world likes to change the meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn't a time of recieving, it isn't a time for buying. It is a time to give, to spend with our families, and most importantly to remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for each and every one of us. #NasceuoSalvador 

I love you all and Merry Christmas!

Until next week,

Sister Christensen






Monday, December 7, 2015

12/7/2015: Week 12 - Crazy Week

Hello! 

This week has been a crazy one!

Let's start with Sunday. This Sunday started out normal -- we listened to messages, sang hymns, partook of the sacrament, all that good stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary happened until we were about to leave and I forgot about a little something called gravity. A.K.A., I tripped and fell (in a dress) in front of about ten people, and bled, and thoroughly embarrassed myself. So you know, that's always good, ​but in all honesty, not exactly out of the ordinary.  

We also had a WEDDING! One of the sisters in the ward was finally married. She was wearing a pink gown and had all of her kids with her. It was super cute and super sweet. 

I am pleased to say that the heat has subsided this week, but only because it has been raining constantly. The rain here is crazy. I am pretty sure the person who made up the saying "raining cats and dogs" has never been to Brazil. It rains more like hippos and elephants here. The other day, we were working far from home and got caught in one of the thunderstorms. We ran to a bus stop and waited there for about an hour for the torrential downpour to stop. While we were waiting, a man came up to us and introduced himself.  He said that he was an inactive member, and we conversed with him for a little bit. He left, and then returned about thirty minutes later with two chocolate bars. It was super super sweet, and we shared a message with him about the Plan of Salvation and about faith. We are hoping to meet with him again soon.

We also had the opportunity to teach a woman named M, who goes to another church. However, she had a lot of questions that we were able to answer, and is a bit annoyed with her pastor (long story and slightly funny -- ask me when I am back.)  No matter how many people casually don't show up for appointments or lie about their addresses...we always seem to have one ray of light during the week. 

I hope everyone is preparing for Christmas (I am)!

Love, 

Sister Christensen

Sisters

Princess Art

Papai Noel
 
Christmas Lights

Rain!

Monday, November 30, 2015

11/30/2015: Week 11 - Transfer #1 Complete

Hello everyone! I am pleased to say that I have survived the first Transfer out in the mission field! I will be staying with Síster G for the time being. Which is good, because she is a sweetheart and I love her​. 

This week, we taught a woman named R who we met while knocking on doors. She invited us in, and we were able to teach her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She listened very intently and participated during the entire lesson. We invited her to be baptized on December 27th, and she said yes! We are very excited to return and to teach her more about the church. It was amazing to see that God truly prepares people for us to teach. There are people out there who are ready for the gospel, who are ready to learn more about Christ and to change their lives and follow him. Our job as missionaries is to find those people, and to invite them to come unto Christ. No matter how many people reject our message, no matter how hot it is or how much our feet hurt. What better work is there?

Sorry this e-mail is a bit shorter than the others, I will write more next week! I hope everyone has a wonderful week. Tchau!

With love,
Síster Christensen









Monday, November 23, 2015

11/23/2015: Week 10 - Haircuts, Bugs, and Heat...Oh My!

Hello!

This week has been a bit different. It has been difficult to find people to teach this week, so my companion and I spent most of our time walking around, and arriving at houses only to find that they were busy or not available. But that's alright, because that means that we get a lot of exercise. However, I am glad that we have the opportunity to start a new week!

Our apartment has been a bit crazy this week as well. 

1. Sister N decided that it was a good idea to try and cut her hair herself. She ended up with a Christmas tree haircut, with one side about two inches higher than the other. (Picture included). 

2. Just in case you haven't heard, its pretty hot in Brazil right now, so we have to get creative with ways to stay cool. Our apartment doesn't have air conditioning, so the other day, the sisters decided to create their own with a box of ice and a fan. (Picture also included).

3. We also have a slight problem with bugs. We either die from heat and keep the windows closed, or open the windows and risk being invaded by bugs. The other day, I was minding my own business and going to brush my teeth. I got my toothbrush and my toothpaste, and started to brush my teeth. I then felt something that was definitely not toothpaste in my mouth, and went to spit, and realized that I had eaten an earwig. AN EARWIG! I am much more careful now when I go to brush my teeth. (Picture not included).

But don't get me wrong, the week has been good. A, A, and R are all progressing and came to church with us this week! I love being able to meet with them and continue to teach them. We even had a Family Home Evening with A and A the other day.

I hope all is well, I love and miss you all!

Love,
Sister Christensen












Monday, November 16, 2015

11/16/2015: Week 9 - Satan's Armpit

Hello all!

Yet another week has passed! I am so jealous that it is winter in the United States. It has been 100+ degrees here this week, and I have been drowning in sweat. I live in Satan's armpit. However, the work has been moving forward and we are very happy about the progress we have seen this week!

We were able to invite one boy named R to baptism this week. He is one of my favorite people to teach. I gave him a CTR (choose the right) ring a couple weeks ago, and he has worn it every day since. He has also been coming to church, and has been doing great!

We have also started to teach a couple, A and A. I talked a little bit about one of them in my last e-mail. They are both really kind and accepted the invitation to be baptized. We invited A to a Relief Society activity, and went all together this week, as well. It started to rain really hard -- I am talking a torrential downpour, the-sky-is-falling rain -- and a member offered to take us all home. The only thing is, we had to stuff seven people into a car made for four. My companion gradually fell to the floor, A was against the window, and we all moved like Jell-O whenever the car hit a bump. When we got to our apartment, we realized the door had a child-lock on, so that was a whole other adventure. We laughed the entire way there though.

It is amazing to see the changes that occur in people's lives when they are following the example of Christ. As I have been here, I realize more and more the importance of acting on our faith. Faith is a principle of action. We cannot be passive in our beliefs, especially in a world that is constantly trying to tear them down. I want to invite you all to do something this week to show your love for God, and exercise your faith. Love a little more. Serve a little more. After all, when we are in the service of our fellow men, we are "in the service of our God".

I hope everything is going well for everyone at home. Enjoy the snow and the cold!

With love,
Sister Christensen


Monday, November 9, 2015

11/09/2015: Week 8 - Baptism

Hello everyone!

This week has been amazing. We had a baptism on Sunday! The missionaries here have been teaching her for a while, and we were able to invite her to be baptized three weeks ago. This week she came to church, and immediately after sacrament meeting, she got dressed in white and a Brother from the ward baptized her. The program was really neat, and the Young Women sang her a song to welcome her to the ward. There was a lot of happy crying and a lot of good feelings. 

We also started teaching a few new families this week.:

The first we visited twice this week, and were very receptive to the message and invited us back. One of them told us that she had a dream about the Book of Mormon and that God was with her and told her to read it. So that was pretty neat. Through her, we were also able to meet another man who is interested in our message. We are going back to teach them more this week.

The other family was very welcoming and kind as well, and they started to cry when we talked about the Restoration with them. One of them came to church and to the baptism this Sunday, which was really really neat. I am excited to continue to teach them as well, and to invite them to be baptized.

We also had splits this week, and I was able to meet another wonderful Sister missionary

A few things I would like to say about Brazil:

1) You don't need to ever go to an amusement park if you are in Brazil... just get on a public bus. The buses here are like the Night Bus from Harry Potter. Except there's no magic and you just end up feeling queasy afterwards. It's a wonder that they don't crash more often, because it is seriously like riding a roller coaster at times. 

2) The first thing people ask me when they meet me is where I am from. The second is "Wow you are really white." Complete strangers will come up to me and start talking to me about my skin, how white I am, how I look like a doll, and ask me about my sunscreen usage. They then explain to me that I need to be applying it throughout the day. So don't worry mom -- I have a constant reminder to use sunscreen. The entire country is looking out for me. 

3) My legs are going to look really good after a year and a half of walking constantly. That is all.

I love and miss you all, but I am so excited to be here and to be serving a mission, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with these people. This church has blessed my life in so many ways. I hope everyone has an amazing week. Thanks to everyone who wrote me this week, I love hea​ring from you. 

With love,

Sister Christensen







Monday, November 2, 2015

11/2/2015: Week 7 - Second Week in the Field

Hello everyone! 

This week has been really great! It has been raining a lot here, and we have gotten stuck a few times in a torrential down-pour. I prefer the rain to the heat though, so all is well!

This week my companion and I had the opportunity to go to a baptism for a girl who is 8 and was a bit nervous for her baptism. The first time I met her, she was rocking out to Abba songs (namely Mama Mia). Right before the baptism, her mom came up to us sisters, and asked us if we could do a musical number for the baptism. I ended up singing a solo (in English), and then singing with the other sisters in Portuguese for the second verse. It was such a neat experience, and she looked so beautiful in her white dress. 

We had to move one baptism to another week, but I will keep everyone updated on that!


I love being on this mission, because I am able to see miracles every day. We had a goal to have 12 new investigators this week, and as of Sunday we hadn't met our goal. We decided to go tracking

for a few hours and visit one of our new investigators later that day. When we got there, her entire family ushered us in, and we were able to teach the Restoration to four new people, and gain four new investigators. It is so neat to see what happens when we do our best and have faith. God will always provide a way for us to accomplish his work. Hard work brings miracles. 

I hope everyone is having a good week. I love and miss you all!

Love,
Síster Christensen



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

10/26/2015: Week 6 - Mission Field

Hello everyone!

I have finally arrived in the mission field! I love it. My companion is really sweet and very patient with me as I learn the language. She is a wonderful missionary, and is very good at what she does. There are two other sisters who live with us, They are both really kind and sweet as well (and a little bit crazy). All three of the other sisters are Brazilian. Which means I am the only one here who understands English. So it has been really challenging and interesting trying to communicate with them, but I am doing the best I can! Sometimes speaking  Portuguese is like playing a really difficult version of Taboo and Charades. If I don't know the word, I have to describe it using words I do know, or by acting it out (which can sometimes be embarrassing, especially when you are jumping down the street with your hands above your ears trying to figure out how to say "rabbit").


The members here are all really really sweet, and there is actually another American in the ward who always speaks English to me haha. After a week of only speaking Portguese, it is really nice to hear some English. The first time he spoke to me, I jumped a little bit because I was expecting Portuguese, ha ha ha!

The people in Brazil are also all very kind. There are so many who are willing to hear about and accept the gospel. I had the opportunity this week to teach several lessons in Portuguese, and even invite one girl named T to be baptized. She said yes, and we are holding her baptism this Sunday. :) I couldn't be more excited.

I also have pictures now! There will be more to come. I love you all!

-Sister Christensen



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

10/14/2015: Week 5 - Last Week in the CTM

Hello everyone!

It's finally here: I am leaving for Campinas in less
than a week! So that means that this is my last e-mail from in the
CTM. I can´t believe that I have been here for six weeks already, it
feels like I have only been here for a week or two. I am so excited to
get out into the field! This week my district and I bought a big cake
to celebrate the fact that we have been in Brazil for a month. We even
got a big candle, and decided that it was a good idea to light it
inside. It turns out that the candle was actually a sparkler, so we
all panicked trying to put that out. But all is well, we didn't burn
down the CTM (yet). There was another scare this week, far worse than
a surprise sparkler though. After exercise time (where I keep getting
hit in the head with volleyballs), my companion and I headed over to
the laundry room to help iron some sheets for service. Everything was
normal until I went to stack blankets. As I picked up a blanket,
something hard (and definitely not the blanket) touched my hand. I
looked down, wondering what I had just touched and OH MY GOSH IT'S 
A. DEAD. COCKROACH! So yeah, I touched a dead cockroach. Almost vomited.
#Brazil. On a slightly cheerier note, things have been going really
well. I can almost hold a full conversation in Portuguese, and I love
teaching lessons to our "investigators". It makes me sad that I am
leaving, because I have met so many great people here. I have friends
from all over the States, South America, and Latin America. Including
one missionary who speaks in broken English and tells me to, and I
quote, "stay fierce" every time he sees me. The people here are
wonderful, and I will miss them, but I am so excited to get out into
the field and teach real people and bring the gospel to them. I am
sure I will have more stories while I am in Campinas, but until then,
these stories will have to suffice. I love you all, thank you for the
e-mails. I hope everyone is doing well! 

With Love,
Sister Christensen

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

10/7/2015: Week 4 - General Conference and Missionary Work

Bom Dia Everyone! 

This week has been crazy exciting! This past week we
had the opportunity to go proselytizing for the first time! That was an
adventure. We started the day by having an English fast, aka
Portuguese 24/7. Anyways, after lunch our instructor
took us into the middle of São Paulo. São Paulo is like the sketchy
downtown Salt Lake area, but gigantic and everyone speaks another
language. Not to mention it is one of the largest cities in the world,
so there's that. Each one of us received 3 Books of Mormon and we were
told to give them out. I gave one woman a copy on the bus, and then we
got to the actual street. That's where the real craziness began. One
man waved me and my companion down, and we started to tell him who we
were and a little bit about the church and Book of Mormon. However,
before we could get much out, he started firing off in crazy fast
Portuguese telling us how good it was that young people were out
speaking about Christ. Then all of a sudden he was rapping some
religious poem in the middle of the street about Matthew and Paul and
Judas Iscariot. I didn't realize it was a song until the very end when
I realized that everything he said was rhyming. I maybe understood
about 10% of the things he said. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and he
asked us how much it cost. We told him that it was a gift and then he
proceeded to quote the Bible about how the word of God should always
be free, and he thanked us. I am pretty sure he preached more to me
than I did to him. Another man got really excited when we told him
about the book and that God loved him, and that we had only been
learning Portuguese for 4 weeks. He took the book and kissed it and
held it into the air. We sang "Eu Sou Um Filho de Deus" (I am a Child
of God), to another man, in the middle of the street as well. The
people in Brazil are much more willing to hear a message about Christ
and the gospel. Almost everyone we talked to was open to hear about
our message, and asked us questions. It was a really amazing
experience. I also had the opportunity to listen to General Conference
this weekend (where we hear messages and receive guidance from a
living prophet and apostles of the church), and I loved it. It was a
nice break from learning Portuguese every second of every day. I loved
hearing the prophet speak about how we all need to be examples of the
believers in all that we do: in word, conversation, charity, spirit,
faith, and purity. He concluded with his testimony, which was one of
the strongest things I have ever heard. As he and the other apostles
spoke, I was filled completely with the Spirit, and I received another
witness that they are men of God, and are called of God. I am so
grateful to live in a time where we have living prophets and apostles
guiding us and helping us come closer to Christ. I also have a strong
testimony that Christ is my personal Savior, and is all of yours as
well. Also: a quick shout out to moms everywhere. You guys are
amazing. Thank you for all that you do for your kids and the people
around you. I love you all so much, and I love hearing from you all. I
am sorry that my time is so short, or else I would respond to each
e-mail individually. I read them all, so please keep e-mailing me! I
hope everything is well back home in the US. 

Love, 
Sister Christensen

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

9/30/2015: Week 3 - Three New Elders

Bom Dia!

Hello hello! Yet another week has gone by. It's almost October! I hope
everyone back home is enjoying the cool weather, sweaters and boots
(especially you Tay), and the pumpkin pie around the corner. I am
going to miss pumpkin pie. As for me, I will be enjoying to heat and
sweat of Brazil. This week we got 3 new elders from the Provo MTC in
our district. We now have... 1) Elder P, who has curly blonde
hair and asks hard questions, 2) Elder H, who was born in Guiana
and is both shy and outgoing at the same time, and 3) Elder E, who
is nice and quiet but I don't know much else. They have been a
wonderful addition to our district, and have brought a better focus to
the group. (Trying to work and study with eight 18-yr old boys can
sometimes be a struggle). This past week we were able to watch the
funeral of the apostle Richard G. Scott. It was very touching, and he
was a great man. We also watched his last devotional given at the MTC,
and he shared a really beautiful message about the power of prayer and
recognizing answers to your prayers. Sister A and I have been
teaching two "investigators" (our instructors pretending to be
invesitgators). The weird thing is, the lessons can feel so real while
you are teaching them. For example, one of the investigators told us
that she just found out that her friend had cancer and only had a
short time to live. This woman was shedding real tears, and within
five minutes, we had shared a short message about hope with her and we
were all crying together. It was a really neat experience. Anyways, I
am off to go get some Brazilian treats for General Conference this
next weekend! I am looking forward to being able to hear from the
prophets and apostles, and to recieve the guidance they have for us. I
hope all of you will watch it at home as well. I love you all, and I
hope you have a great week!

 Com muito amor,
 Sister Christensen

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

9/23/2015: Week Two - The Brazilians Are Gone

Bom Dia!

This week has been great. I can't believe I have been
here for two weeks. It feels like six months. Every day in the CTM
runs together. I spend the majority of my time sitting in a classroom,
studying Portuguese or planning for my next lesson. I have two
instructors: Irmão F and Irmã C. F is really laid back, but is a bit of a kook.
He will randomly make us start singing our lessons in four part harmony,
or will come up really close and make a weird face while sayings something
to you in Portuguese. He's even had a push-up contest with one of the elders in
my district. Irmã C on the other hand, is like an Energizer
Bunny. She speaks Portuguese really quickly, forces everyone to
participate, and has us speaking in Portuguese 24/7. She is really
short and sasses the elders to no end. I love both of them, they both
teach really well and have helped me progress in Portuguese by leaps
and bounds. This week, the Brazilians that were here all left,
including my two roommates (if I could attach pictures I would show
you). Sister L and Sister R were both really sweet and
hilarious, so it was really sad to see them go. One Brazilian Elder
stopped me in the hall the night before he left, and started
serenading me with the first two lines of the song, "A Whole New
World" from Aladdin in broken English. After he was done, he proceeded
to put his hand up to his face and said, "Call me after the mission."
Then he walked upstairs and that was that. I have never talked to him
before, but man, it was so funny. I have a few notes about Brazil: 1)
The don't use toilet paper, they use tissues. 2) Pão de quejo is the
best thing on the planet. 3) People here like to touch my hair because
I am blonde. 4) Brazilians aren't very good at playing
basketball/volleyball. On a more serious note, last night our district
had a meeting. For the lesson, I felt prompted to have everyone talk
about the reason they went on a mission, and the person that they
wanted to become afterwards. I thought that our district needed a bit
more focus, and a reminder of why we are here... serving the Lord and
sharing the gospel. We went around the circle, and each person shared
with us their reason. It was amazing to hear the testimonies of
every single person in that room, and to see a glimpse of someone's
soul. By the end, everyone was crying because the spirit was so
strong. It strengthened our district immensely. I am so happy to be
here in Brazil and to be sharing the gospel. This church makes me so
happy, and I am so excited to share that joy with other people. I love
this church, I love my Savior, and I couldn't think of a better way to
spend the next 18 months. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me, I am a
little short on time, so I can't reply to everything, but I read them
all and I really appreciate them.

With love from Brazil,
Sister Christensen

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

9/16/2015: First Week in Brazil

Bom Dia!

I have been in Brazil for a week now, and I have loved every
second of it. I am going outside of the MTC (Missionary Training
Center) for the first time today, and I am really looking forward to
it. I also had the opportunity to go to the temple here in São Paulo
today, and it was absolutely beautiful. However, back to the MTC. 1)
The food here is delicious. I eat a lot of beans, rice, and meat,
along with some somewhat questionable side dishes and desserts. I love
rice and beans though, so no worries here! 2) The Brazilian people are
so nice. We sit next to them at lunch and do our best to talk to them.
They are funny, kind, and are always willing to help you with learning
Portuguese. 3) As for the language, you could not believe how quickly
we are learning it. I have only been here for a week, yet I have
taught four 20-45 minute lessons, completely in Portuguese, prepared a
talk for church in Portuguese, and held a 2 hour conversation with my
Brazilian roommates about the differences in culture between the
United States and Brazil ONLY IN PORTUGUESE. It is truly a miracle
that I can speak this well after only a week. It would't be possible
without God, and I am definitely developing a testimony of the gift of
tongues. 4) I love my district (the group of missionaries that I
learn, teach, and work with). We have a lot of interesting characters,
including: Elder M (our district leader), Elder J (who
can throw my sass right back at me), Elder M (who had a stone
in his salivary gland -- but don't worry, he's okay), Elder
W (who has a really blunt and dry sense of humor and reminds
me of Leah), Sister B (who's name is Haley, lives in CR,
and goes to BYU -- we are practically twins), and Sister Trejo (who
eats "banana spoders" and speaks English and Spanish, and is now
learning Portuguese). That brings me to my companion, Sister A.
She is really nice and we get along well. She is from Minnesota. She
helps me focus, work hard, and *cough cough* leave the room on time in
the morning. I would like to say sorry in advance for the poor spacing
on these letters, the computers here don't like to let you use the
enter button. Also, I am not allowed to send pictures until I get into
the field, but I will do that as soon as I can. I love you all, and
the church is true! :)

 Sister Christensen

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Farewell Talk - August 30th

We are on an official count down! Only one week until I get set apart! With that in mind, I have decided to post my Farewell talk for whoever wants to read it. 

_____________________________________________________________


Showing Love Through Service
names changed to initials to protect identities

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Hailey Christensen. I have been called to serve in the Campinas Brazil mission and I leave in about a week, (no matter how much my mom is denying it). I have a wonderful mom and dad who always push me to do my best, my little sister C who I adore, and my crazy little brother, B. I will miss them all very much when I leave, but I am so excited to go and preach the gospel in Brazil.

For me, deciding to serve a mission wasn’t an easy choice. I was torn between staying in school and putting my education on hold to preach the gospel. Both options seemed good to me, but as I prayed about it, I felt that I needed to go on a mission. So I took a leap of faith and started my papers immediately. As I walked into the Stake President’s office in my BYU ward to finish and submit my mission papers, I asked him what I could do to start preparing for my mission right then and there. I hadn’t even received the assignment of where I would serve at this point. Even so, his answer was simple: Pray to love the people I was called to serve. Love is the single most important gift we can give to another person. 

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). He then continued by saying, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). It is no coincidence that the two greatest commandments involve love: love for God and love for our fellow men. It is by love that we keep the other commandments that God has given us, and it is through love that we travel throughout our mortal journeys and strive to help others along their way.

The “highest, noblest, strongest kind of love”, or the “pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47) is called charity. Christ set a perfect example of loving others in his earthly ministry. As President Monson taught, (quote) “[Christ’s] life was a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved. At the end the angry mob took His life. And yet there rings from Golgotha’s hill the words: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34)—a crowning expression in mortality of compassion and love.” (Love – The Essence of the Gospel, 2014). Christ managed to love people regardless of their sins, their trials, or their circumstances. Even when he was crucified, Christ gave freely of His love to all, and blessed countless lives doing so. We have been commanded to follow Christ’s example in this way and to have charity. In John 13:34-35, Jesus gives a new commandment to his disciples, saying, “love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this all men shall know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” As members of the church and as disciples of Christ, we each have a sacred responsibility and duty to love the people around us in whatever way we can.  However, it is not up to us to decide who deserves our love. Truly loving as Christ did means that we love every single person that we come across, no matter how different they may be, or how much pain they have caused us. We strive to love unconditionally as Christ did.

However, it is not enough to simply love the people around us. We must take that love and put it into action. We must constantly be striving to serve the people around us, whether they are family, friends, or strangers. Just as “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20), love without service is dead. Too often we say that we love someone, yet do not do everything in our power to serve them. It is not enough to simply say that we love someone and then to move on with our lives without a second thought. When one possesses true charity, they love the people around them as Christ did – by serving them with all their souls and with all their minds.

Giving service is like giving a well thought-out gift. When I take the time to pick out the perfect present for someone, I get really excited. I look forward to seeing their reaction more than giving them the actual item. As they open it, I get to see their face light up with happiness. Knowing that I was able to brighten their day just a little bit, I am happy and feel joy for the person I have given the gift to. As we go out of our way to show our love through service, a little bit of that love comes back to us, and who couldn’t use a little more love?

Each day there is service that can be done, whether it is small or big. More often than not, it is the little things that count when they are done in the spirit of love. M. Russell Ballard compared these small and simple acts of service to a man who sold all of his possessions and traveled to California in search of fortune in the gold rush.

(quote) “Day after endless day, the young man dipped his pan into the river and came up empty. His only reward was a growing pile of rocks. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit until one day an old, experienced prospector said to him, ‘That’s quite a pile of rocks you are getting there, my boy.’

The young man replied, ‘There’s no gold here. I’m going back home.’

Walking over to the pile of rocks, the old prospector said, ‘Oh, there is gold all right. You just have to know where to find it.’ He picked two rocks up in his hands and crashed them together. One of the rocks split open, revealing several flecks of gold sparkling in the sunlight.

Noticing a bulging leather pouch fastened to the prospector’s waist, the young man said, ‘I’m looking for nuggets like the ones in your pouch, not just tiny flecks.’

The old prospector extended his pouch toward the young man, who looked inside, expecting to see several large nuggets. He was stunned to see that the pouch was filled with thousands of flecks of gold.

The old prospector said, ‘Son, it seems to me you are so busy looking for large nuggets that you’re missing filling your pouch with these precious flecks of gold. The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.’” (Finding Joy Through Service, 2011).

It is our responsibility to offer these small gold flecks of service to those around us, continually and patiently, and always with love. Over time, what seems small and insignificant can turn into something great and have a far larger impact than we could have ever imagined.

While I was attending BYU, I had some struggles during the year, mostly due to the fact that I was living on my own and trying to manage everything in my life for the first time. I was homesick, worried about school, and missing friends from back home. Although I tried to make the best of the situation and to keep a positive attitude, I didn’t always succeed and often ended up feeling disheartened and upset. However, I was blessed to have people around me who loved me enough to offer service to me. One roommate wrote me a card and brought home some of my favorite treats, even when she had troubles of her own to deal with. I had friends (and my wonderful mom) who would call just to let me talk, and a family who took me in with loving arms and gave me a home away from home.

None of these things were especially large acts of service, yet each and every one of them left an enormous impact on me. The negative feelings I had were forgotten and I was able to focus on all of the wonderful things in my life. All of these people gave me their own small specks of gold, which together became priceless. After all, as Alma taught, it is “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6). Small and simple acts of service are like a pebbles dropped into a lake. While the pebble may be small in size, once dropped into the water, it creates ripples that reach out across the surface of the lake. The pebble creates a very large impact, though the initial splash was small. What may seem insignificant to you could mean the world to someone else as they receive your service. Often, one act of love can lead to others, and creates a chain reaction of charity.

Realistically, it isn’t always natural to love everyone we meet, so we must be constantly striving to have charity in our hearts. Moroni taught we should “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7:48). Just like any other spiritual gift, we can and should pray to receive the gift of charity. If we do so, we will receive it.

My Stake President at BYU gave me the best possible guidance he could have by advising me to pray to love the people I was called to serve. As I have done so, I have been filled with a desire to teach them, and a love for both the people and the gospel. The promise that Moroni gives is true: if we pray for charity, we will receive it. I will continue to take my Stake President’s advice in the field, because as Dallin H Oaks said, “the most effective missionaries always act out of love” (Sharing the Gospel, 2001).

As I go out as a new sister missionary, I will also remember the words in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, which reads, “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.” I am going to love, work, and serve the people of Brazil with all my heart, might, mind and strength, and I couldn’t be more excited to do so. I can’t wait for the adventures in store for the next year and a half.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sister Missionary Shoe Tips



As Marilyn Monroe once said, "Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world". While I don't exactly plan on being a Marilyn Monroe on my mission, she does have a point. As sister missionaries, we have the wonderful opportunity to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Some of us will be across the globe, while others will be a bit closer to home. However, each and every single sister has one thing in common: a need for comfy walking shoes.
A mission demands good and durable walking shoes, no matter the climate or location. A majority of a missionary's day is spent on their feet, where they prance down pavement, dance on dirt roads, or sashay in the rain. All of those activities require the right shoes. While comfort should come before fashion, there are shoes that can satisfy both demands.
I'm sure you have all seen the stereotypical sister missionary shoes. I am here to tell you that those 3-inch rubber soled shoes that could survive a nuclear blast are not the only option. It is completely possible to find shoes that are both fashionable and practical. I have asked several future missionaries and mission shoe experts to share with me their shoes of choice, and the pros and cons of each below.

Crocs Flats

Recommended by: Sister Banisch & Sister Funk
Mexico Chihuahua Mission, Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission

Crocs aren't usually the first thing to come to mind when one is shopping for missionary shoes. However, Crocs offer a wide selection of women's flats that are fashionable and mission appropriate. Their shoes are all 100% washable. If they start to smell or get dirty, they can be rinsed off and dried within a matter of minutes. That can come in very handy when you are wearing them for hours a day. You don't need to worry about waterproofing them either, as they are made of rubber and can be worn rain or shine. Because they are so lightweight, they are extremely portable and can be carried around and used as needed.

Pros: washable, waterproof, affordable, comfortable, lightweight, durable, cool, comes in a variety of styles and colors, less blisters
Cons: feet may get slippery due to sweat or rain (which could make them hard to walk in), not as much foot support as other options out there

ABEO Flats

Recommended by: Sister Christensen
Brazil Campinas Mission

ABEO B.I.O. System - Tamara Neutral

I spent a lot of time looking at a lot of different shoes, but finally decided on (and bought) this pair from The Walking Company, one in black and one in brown. When I first walked into the store, an associate measured my foot, which allowed her to pick an orthopedic pad that would best support my feet. This insert is built into the shoe, so you don't need to waste any more time or money looking for additional inserts. The shoe is made of leather and is very breathable, while the sole of the shoe is made of thick rubber, thus giving it durability. Plus they are pretty cute, which is an added bonus.

Pros: built-in orthopedic pad, breathable, thick rubber sole adds to durability, elastic holds shoe onto foot, comfortable, comes in a variety of conservative colors
Cons: needs waterproofing, socks recommended, could get smelly

KEEN Sandals

Recommended by: Sister Funk
Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission

KEEN Women's Cypress Sandals
These shoes were designed for walking and hiking. These waterproof sandals also offer great arch support. According to Sister Funk, these shoes lasted half of her mission -- not a bad amount of time for a shoe you will be wearing nearly 24/7. These, like the Crocs, are also washable. KEEN makes a variety of different styles (from these sandals to more dressy shoes), so go check them out. There are many colors to choose from as well, so make sure to choose one of the more dressy options. 

Pros: waterproof, built in arch support, durable, comfortable, don't smell, can be easily cleaned, rubber sole adds to durability
Cons: not as dressy as other options, not much cushion

G. H. Bass & Co.

Recommended by: Sister Esplin
Australia Adelaide Mission
G.H. & Bass Co. Missy Drivers

G.H. Bass & Co. offers a wide selection of professional looking flats and loafers. The loafers come in a variety of styles and colors to meet your needs. Make sure to check out the flats as well.  As Sister Esplin was searching for mission shoes, comfort was her top priority. These shoes offer a comfortable fit, padding, and soft lining. Most of the loafers are made of leather, so you will have to do your own water proofing. The soles are synthetic, and other styles can be found with thicker soles as needed.

Pros: comfortable, leather, fashionable, durable, stay on feet well, less blisters
Cons: may be a bit casual, must be waterproofed, soles can be thin (depending on the style), not super breathable

Other Brands/Stores to Check Out: 

Danskos (recommended by an associate at the Sister Missionary Mall in Provo)
Clarks (recommended by an associate at the Sister Missionary Mall in Provo, and Sister Esplin)
Macy's (recommended by Sister Esplin)
Shoe Carnival (recommended by Sister Esplin)
REI (recommended by Sister Funk)
Tevas (recommended by Sister Funk)
The Walking Company (recommended by Sister Christensen)

Shoe Related Products



Waterproofing Spray
Waterproofing spray is a necessity, especially if your shoes are not waterproof. Spray them weekly in order not to damage your shoes and to make them last as long as possible.

Shoe Inserts
Most shoes do not come with inserts. Since you are going to be walking all day everyday, you are going to want your feet to be as comfortable and supported as they can be. Splurge on some orthopedic shoe inserts.

Socks
Nearly every store I visited recommended socks. Socks help your shoe not wear down as quickly and can provide protection from blisters. I purchased short socks that have a grip on the heel, because those kind of socks don't usually stay on my feet too well. You can find these anywhere, from Target to Walmart. 

Mole Skin
Chances are, you are going to get blisters. Pack some mole skin so that it doesn't get in the way of your missionary work!


Do you have a missionary shoe suggestion? Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Ultimate Sister Missionary Packing List

If you are anything like me, you can appreciate a detailed packing list. This project began when I opened my mission call packet and read the packing guidelines. In all honesty, the outline in it (6-8 outfits, 1 set of exercise clothes, etc) isn't very specific. I personally like to have a slighty more in-depth packing list, just so nothing gets left behind (or forgotten). In light of that, I have searched through countless online packing lists, various missionary tips, and my own call packet in order to bring you this (also attached as a printable PDF-file):

Note: This packing list was created with a hot climate in mind. If you are traveling somewhere cold, make sure to adjust the list to meet your needs. Also, depending on luggage size and weight restrictions, make sure to pack necessary items first.



Clothing

  • 6-8 outfits
    • 5-6 t-shirts (durable and match with a majority of skirts)
    • 4-5 undershirts/shade shirts (black and white seem to be the most popular choices)
    • 3 blouses
    • 6-8 skirts (choose skirts that you can mix and match with your tops in order to make a variety of outfits, while making sure that they cover your knee both front and back)
    • 1-2 dresses
    • 1-2 jackets
    • 2-3 cardigans (one missionary suggested having a couple plain colored cardigans and one fun colored one)
    • 1-2 sweaters
    • 2-3 slips (in coordinating colors and lengths)
    • 2 belts 
    • 4 white/cream bras
    • 8-10 garments (up for debate, take however many garments you feel you may need)
    • 6 pairs of underwear (for that time of the month)
    • 8-10 small socks for flats
    • 3 pairs nylons/plain tights (you may want to take more, I am just not very fond of them)
    • 1-2 Sunday shoes
    • 2 proselyting shoes (if your shoes do not come with inserts, I would consider buying some, as you will be walking a lot)
  • Exercise Clothing
    • 1 pair gym shoes
    • 2 sports bras
    • 2 workout shirts/t-shirts
    • 1 pair loose workout pants
    • 1-2 pairs of spandex shorts (a must if you are biking)
    • 6 pairs regular socks
    • 1 pair basketball shorts*
  • Regular Clothing
    • 1 pair of jeans (full length, not tight fitting)
    • 1-2 sweatshirts (you really only need one, but sweatshirts have a special place in my heart)
    • 2-3 shirts
  • Pajamas
    • 2-3 sets of pajamas
    • 1 robe
    • 1 pair of slippers
  • Raincoat w/ zip out liner (Burlington Coat Factory, Eddie Bauer, etc)
  • 1 pair shower sandals (flip-flops)
  • 1 pair rain boots*

Accessories

  • Jewelry
    • 1 inexpensive watch
    • 1 hair donut/bun 
    • variety of headbands
    • variety of scarves (help you to spice up the few outfits that you have)
    • bracelets
    • rings
    • necklaces
    • earrings (only studs or less than 1 inch long)
    • YW medallion
    • CTR ring
  • 1 waterproof shoulder bag/purse
  • Wallet
  • Passport case
  • Umbrella
  • Coin purse*

Studying/Desk

  • Books
    • Scriptures (English)
    • True to the Faith (English)
    • Jesus the Christ (English)
    • Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (English)
    • Our Search for Happiness (English)
    • Missionary Handbook
    • Mini Preach My Gospel (English)*
    • Book of Mormon (Portuguese)*
    • Portuguese-English dictionary*
    • Mini hymnbook*
  • Letters
    • Blank cards (for writing home, birthdays, etc.)
    • Letter paper (find some fun prints so you aren't just writing on notebook paper 24/7)
    • Envelopes
    • Stamps
    • Address Book (fill up before you leave)
  • Study Supplies
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Highlighters (look for scripture marking highlighters -- they don't bleed through the page like traditional highlighters)
    • Scripture marking crayons/ pencils
    • Sharpie (for labeling all your items)
    • Scissors*
    • Colored pens*
    • Tape*
    • Sticky notes*
  • Scripture case
  • 1-2 notebooks (used for studying in the MTC)
  • 2 journals (one for personal and one for scripture study)
  • Seminary cards*
  • Small picture book* (have pictures of friends and family to make you less homesick and to share with companions)
  • Notebook for missionary "yearbook"* (have your companions write down memories for you to look back on after your mission)

Documents

  • Folder for documents
  • DMV driving record
  • Health insurance
  • Passport
  • Copy of patriarchal blessing
  • Copy of mission call
  • Driver's license
  • Debit card
  • Immunization form
  • Temple recommend
  • 4 generation pedigree chart
  • Family history stories
  • Favorite conference talks*

Bath/Toiletries

  • Nail care kit
    • Nail clipper
    • Nail file
    • Nail polish (conservative colors)
  • Makeup bag
    • Foundation
    • Bronzer
    • Highlighter
    • Blush
    • Eye shadow palettes
    • Face Primer
    • Concealer
    • Assorted brushes
    • Lipstick (once again -- conservative colors)
    • Lip gloss
    • Chapstick
    • Eyeliner (in case you were wondering, liquid eyeliner is allowed)
    • Mascara
    • Eyelash curler
    • Makeup remover
    • Tweezers
    • Compact mirror (for purse)*
    • Mini-makeup bag (for purse)*
  • Toiletries (enough to last 6 weeks in the MTC)
    • Deodorant
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Dental floss
    • Mouth wash
    • Retainer
    • Lotion
    • Razors
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Dry shampoo (I am going to go out on a limb here and say this is a really good idea)
    • Body wash
    • Face wash
    • Towelettes
    • Feminine hygiene products (enough for 18+ months if you are going foreign)
  • Hair care
    • Comb
    • Brush
    • Round brush
    • Hairdryer
    • Hair straightener
    • Hair wand/curling iron
    • Hair ties
    • Bobby pins 
    • Hairspray*
    • Mousse*
  • Eye care
    • Eye drops
    • Contacts
    • Glasses
    • Eye solution (if needed)
  • First-aid kit
    • Neosporin/antibiotic ointment
    • Vitamins
    • Cold medicine
    • Allergy medicine
    • Decongestant
    • Fever reducer
    • Pain reliever
    • Anti-diarrhea medicine
    • Anti-gas medicine
    • Tums
    • Sleeping pills (for the first few nights of the MTC)
    • Anti-itch cream
    • Heat rash ointment
    • Anti-fungal cream/spray
    • Foot deodorant spray
    • Band-Aids
    • Moleskin
    • Thermometer
    • 25-30% DEET mosquito repellent
    • 30+ SPF sunscreen
    • 30+ SPF Chapstick
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Heating pad (especially if you get bad cramps)
  • Perfume
  • 1 bath towel (while the official packing list says to only bring 1 bath towel, I would consider leaving some of the other towels at home and packing a second bath towel)
  • 1 hand towel
  • 2 wash cloths
  • Mirror
  • Kleenex*
  • Hand lotion*

Electronics

  • Inexpensive camera
    • Camera case
    • Memory cards
    • Memory card reader
    • Camera cord/charger
  • Wind-up/battery alarm clock
  • Small LED flashlight
  • Batteries
  • USB drive
  • International power converter
  • iPod* (only mission approved music, and must have external sound capabilities, i.e. speakers)
    • Speakers*

Other Knick-knacks

  • Luggage tags
  • Water bottle
  • Laundry bag
  • Waterproofing spray (for shoes, bag, etc.)
  • Shoe polish
  • Sewing kit (for sewing tears and buttons)
  • Lint roller*
  • Lanyard* (good for the MTC)
  • Blanket*
  • 30 min work-out book*
  • Recipe book* (bring some of your favorite recipes and gather some while you are there)
  • Church music/CDs*
*optional