Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nov. 19, 2014~ Home!

Home in Oregon w siblings
Hug attack
Loving siblings
So tan!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nov. 17th Last letter- Coming Home!!!!

Helllllllooooooooo Everybody!!!!!

Yep. The time has come.   Incredibly.   Sadly.   I am sooo full of mixed feelings! 

Tonight is our dinner with Presidente Genaro and Sister Genaro. I am pretty sure I'll cry my eyes out! 

Tomorrow I catch a flight to São Paulo and from there take a night flight to Atlanta! (That is where Sister VerHorf is from. Maybe her mom will meet up with me there to say hi... we will see:) 

Then.... to Portland! I cant believe it! I still dont feel like I am really going home. It so sureal. 

The members are so loving here. We had about 3 goodbye parties. I only cry when i think about how much I love each of these people, members and investigators and recent converts...

...ahhh!I feel like I am leaving a part of my heart here and its painful. But at the same time I really do feel like this is just another transfer, another calling from the Lord. 

I cant wait to see you all! 

I need to finish packing and getting things organized and weighing my bags. 

But know that I love you alllll! Thanks for following my blog and supporting me, reading all my letters! I loved my mission and wouldn't trade it for anything!!!  

I learned so much and my testimony grew so much. I really do feel like a new person. I am so grateful for my interview with Presidente. I love him so much, he helped me with so many worries!!! (Leaving the mission work that I love, future plans, schooling, adjusting...)

Okay world... here I come! Can't wait to see you all!! 

Love, for the last time, 
Sister Edwards

Interviews w Pres. Genaro 
Goodbye luncheon with Ward Sisters

Tradition in Brazil when Missionaries finish missions

Ward goodbyes. Children so kind.
Freshly painted wall

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nov. 10, 2014- Londrina- Final Week

IHey Everyone! 

(Miracles are real!) 

What. a. week. After all the suffering and pain and sickness and work and trials and difficulties..... the blessing arrived! The Lord was very merciful with us and gave us a huge miracle! 

All this transfer we have been working with Maristela. She was a reference of recent converts.  She is so great. She was passing through many difficult things lately and the Lord truly did prepare her heart. She is STRONG. When she received her answer NO ONE could change her mind. She is very determined. She works at Outback Steakhouse and is a cook there. The restaurant is open very late and she has the night shift. She gets home at 4-6:00 in the morning. Many times her schedule interfered with us teaching her. But Alessandra and Alfredo (the recent converts) are her neighbors and they helped her sooo much. 

She really is so special and I think the adversary knows it. I have never seen so many obstacles to try and stop someone from being baptized. The day of her interview she got hurt at work and was feeling sick and weak. We rescheduled 3 times that day. Finally when she was able to walk, a HUGE storm blew threw (impeding our walk to the church). I called the bishop and he came to pick us up *phew* She passed ther interview. The next day every temptation you can think of came to her. She was so strong. She did not submit to any of them. Then after a loooong shift saturday night she didnt even sleep and when to church with us. She changed her clothes and was so excited to be baptized. 

Right before the service started Sister Nascimento went to check the water. Luckily she did because she found a black scorpion on the stair of the font. It was right in the place where she would have stepped. These monsters are very dangerous. The whole chapel will be scorpion bombed this week because she found it. It could have seriously hurt. How grateful I am that the good side always wins! The baptism was beautiful and spiritual and we all felt much alleviation. Sister VerHoef and I sang "Come unto Christ." 

This week we went to Apucarana. It was probably the hardest split I have done in my mission... no... it was the hardest. Simply put, I am exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally and especially spiritually. I learned a lot about myself and how I have changed a lot in this 1 year and half that I have been a full time missionary. It was a neat and special experience for many sisters this week, including me. 

WELL, This is officially my last week. Cant wait to relate more miracles next week! Have a good one!

Sister Edwards

Baptism of Maristela.

Waiting for onibus

Carmel apples

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov. 3, 2014- Prayer

Hey Everyone! 

Sorry I forgot my camera at home today. But I dont even think that I had any pictures to send... Oh yeah. I do have a picture of the carmeled apples that we made for Halloween. But that was about it. My camera is slowing dying so I havent been taking it around much. It must be a sign or something. 

This week was a struggle. We shed lots of tears. I had said in my last letter that I would be going to Maringá last week. We really were planning on it. But that evening I got a call from Presidente Genaro and he told me that he would be closing that area this week for sisters! There were a bunch of emergency transfers and before we were able to go there it was closed and he put Elders there. We ended up in the Rodiviaria until late at night again helping with all of the transfers. 

So last week we went to Arapongas and worked with the sisters there. This week we are headed to Apucarana. I am grateful to travel throughout the mission to train and work w Sisters. Though I do miss proselyting full time in our current area. This week was hard because during the call from Presidente he asked me why it has been so long since I have had a baptism. It has been 7 weeks. We are expected to baptize weekly here in this mission. Or at least every month. We had baptism at the beginning of last transfer but with a lot of difficulties have not had the opportunity again. Almost every week our baptism falls. 

I have been frustrated and tired. I feel like I have been working harder than ever but now it doesnt work! We have incredible experiences but there is no fruit. This week we had 3 baptims marked. Then one after another everything wrong happened and we ended the week at zero again. 

Saturday my companion and I literally sat on the curb and cried. We didnt know what else to do. We prayed to start a fast. I think of my whole mission I have never prayed so much as I have this week. The Lord has answered all of my prayers. But in ways that I wasnt thinking or hoping for. His will be done. Its just a challenge to comprehend sometimes. Anyways, in this moment, sitting on the curb, lost, tired, weak, hot, crying and praying...the Lord gave us a tender mercy. First, out of no where came a breeze and clouds that covered the hot sun. I felt impressed to open my scriptures and read what he wanted us to know. I opened and read the following: 

Alma 37:36-37
Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thydoings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

*The spirit really comforted my heart in this moment. I then prayed and told the Lord that I would put him the first place in my thoughts and actions and teold Him that I was willing to do whatever it takes to do my purpose here. I asked for strength and then asked what I needed to teach and share with the people of this area to help them progress. My eyes fell upon the following verse from the same chapter: 

33 Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

 34 Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.

 35 O, remember, my [Daughter], and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.

I received so much strength in this learning and powerful moment. I testify that God hears and answers our prayers. After this experience I was able to get up and keep working. We found other new investigators, we were blessed with an investigaor who came to church and a member who left to teach with us. We even had 5 minutes of RAIN! It was wonderful.

I dont know if you all know, most likely yes, but Brasil is running out of water. It isnt raining here and many people are suffering. This week in sacrament meeting a letter was read and all the members in Brasil are being asked to come together and fast and pray on the 16th of November for  it to rain. They warned that it is a way that the Lord corrects his people but that he blesses us when we repent and ask in faith. It was very very powerful. It will be a neat experience to fast with purpose as a country. 

Thank you for all of the love and support. I have two more weeks and I want them to be the best two weeks of my mission! And they will be! 

I pray that you all have a wonderful week! 

Love Sister Rachel Edwards


Monday, October 27, 2014

Oct. 27, 2014- Zone Conference

Hello Everyone! 

Well, this week flew by!!!  Sorry this email will be really fast. We worked like crazy this week. We also had our zone conference. We did a neat family home evening last night and I would like to share the story with you all. Hope you have a great week! Headed to Maringá this week! :) 

Love, Sister Edwards

The following story is a great example of how The Lord teaches and molds us through life's trials.

There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. 

As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot--then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.

She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy--when I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oct. 20, 2014- Sweating in Londrina

Olá Todo Mundo! 

Okay, everyone close your eyes and imagine that one day when you were doing intense exercises and your body is hot and the air is muggy and you are sweating... now imagine feeling like that EVERY moment of every day!!!!!!! The heat... We wake up- sweating. We take a shower and leave the bathroom- sweating. We are in the road- sweating. We teach- sweating. It is just sooooooo wonderful... not. haha This week we literally took a shower and then put on our clothes and get 'back into the shower' to get our clothes wet and then leave the house. Not exagerating! I dont think in my whole mission I have been sooooo hot. Okay, enough about that:P

This week we had huge miracle. We were tracting, totally lost in this new area. Wandering, we were looking for new people to teach. As we were headed up a street we walked in front of a house that had 3 people sitting in the front. I waved and greeted them and the man said "come in! come in!" A little surprised we entered and began to talk to them. We met a husband, his wife, and mother-in-law. They told us that they are very Catholic but interested to hear what we had to say. So we taught them the Restoration. 

They accepted everything we taught them and said they would pray about baptism and our message. We left with incredible feeling. All week we had thought a lot about what we would teach them. We had felt the impression to teach about temples but we did not fully know why. When we got there they were there waiting for us with another Aunt and also a daughter. 

We began to ask how their prayers went. The man began to describe to us the powerful experience he had when he prayed. He said he prayed, went to sleep, and that very night he had a dream. He dreamt that he was in a holy temple completely white. He described the front and the staircase and lodging. He said that on one side he saw a place where lots of americans lived. On the other side he saw all of his ancestors. He explained that he met a teenage boy who came to him and told him that he is very happy now because Valcir (the man we are teaching) has met the Sister missionaries. He said that he is feeling very content now. Velcir said that the dream stopped and that he woke up at 3 in the morming and could stop thinking about it and that he could not stop thinking about us, too. 

He wanted to know about the place that he visited in his dream. With mouths wide open we proceeded to teach about the plan of salvation and temple. The thing that was coolest is that we had a member teaching with us and she was able to confirm that everything he had describled was the Curtiba temple. The staircase, the front. The place where the americans live is the mission home that to the side of the temple, exactly as he described.  The spirit was so immensely present in that moment. We showed him pictures and he was so intently interested. 

He wants to learn everything. The whole family accepted the lesson we taught and expressed that they too want to be a family sealed for all eternity. It was so neat. We left the Book of Mormon and yesterday passed by and he is already almost done with 1 Nephi. We are so happy and pleased. I know that the Lord has a great plan for him and his family. He truly prepares peoples hearts. 

There was a really funny moment during the lesson too. I was beginning to explain about baptisms for the dead (imagine everyone listening carefully, curiously) when a HUGE mouse sized cockroach came charging out of no where and headed straight for sister VerHoef. Reacting she screamed and began to jump and step on it. It was soooo funny! 

"And so in the temple we do something called baptisms for the dead" " AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" *SMASH* *STOMP *STOMP* (laughter). haha "like...for him!" 

We also had an interesting thing happen. In the front of our house there is a huge tree. All day the leaves fall, making a mess in the road and in the front of the neighbors houses. The neighbor ladies always swept them up for the elders. Then when the sisters arrived there was the talk of the neighborhood that the house would now be taken care of. Unfortunately we dont have a lot of time to sweep the leaves every day. So the neighbors agrued about who would clean it up. We explained that we are willing but have little time and that Monday we would do it. 

That next morming (Saturday) I woke up early out of no where, oddly, and the voice of my Mom came into my head. "you know what you should do"  It was really strange. But then while laying in bed I imagined what my Mom would do if she was here. I then imagined her out there sweeping the front of everyones house, not just ours. Seeing her example of service in my mind I decided to get up and do as she would. So I did. I swept everyones sidewalk. Our neighbor woke up really suprised that day. I am so grateful for the example my Mom has set for me of serving others. She has had such an infulence on me that some how she is able to talk to me through imagination! Love you mom! Thank you for always serving everyone. 

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week! LOVE YOU ALL! see ya in 1 MONTH!!!!!!! 

Love Sister Rachel Edwards