Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014- Assis, São Paulo, Brazil

Olá Família e amigos!!! 

I am happy to be writing you all once again! The weeks fly by! 

This week we had a great result from our new idea for the Branch. We have put into practice an activity to help the ward get involved in missionary work and help this Branch become a Ward. We bought a nice framed picture of Christ and printed out a quote from President Monson about members and missionaries coming together in the Work of the Vineyard. 

Each week, a family is randomly chosen in sacrament meeting to receive the picture to put in their home. That week they have the responsiblity to help the missionaries. All week long! Whatever it may be. They kindly choose to teach with us, or give us references, or share a meal with us, or family home evenings, etc. And each person in the family participates- children, youth, everyone. Then the next
Sunday, they have a few minutes to share their testimonies and experiences with everyone about how the week went. It works GREAT. 

All the families get excited to see who will recieve it next and what opportunites they will have to help us out. And everyone's testimonies are really strengthened as they actively participate. This week, a sister named Neusa had it. She has been a member for less than a year and is firm as a rock. She loves helping us! She drove us around in her car this week which was a HUGE change in our normal day work. We are use to walking all over the city. I have to admit i got a little car sick since I haven't been in a car for so long. But we got to our appointments really quick! haha We also visited a lot of less actives this week. I really saw how important it is that we reach out and help those in need. I have a strong testimony of the importance of home and visiting teaching.

We are also starting something with all the members during our lunches (we eat lunch with them, not dinners). The message we are sharing, and putting into practice is, a promise of an Apostle. It is called the 21 day prayer. During our zone conference we were promised that if we pray for a person or investigator for 21 days straight, that person will see a miracle in their lives those 21 days. But you cannot miss a day! I invite you all to print out a calendar and with your families think of a person that you would like to reach out share the Gospel with, or a person in need, or whomever! Then as a family, plan out your 21 day prayers. Each night or morning or time you pray as a family, pray for this person. And as a promise from an Apostle, this miracle will happen for them. This is one of the same and simple ways we can all be involved in missionary work.

Funny story that I found out this week. One night we were really hungry so we stopped by a cart to buy a hambuger. In English, the word is "cheese burger." In Portuguese, on the menu they put "X- Burger" I asked what that was. They explained that is was a burger with cheese. Then I laughed as I remembered the "X" in portuguese is pronounced "shees" Which sounds like "cheese" So this week I had a Shees Burger. The people looked at me funny when I started laughing at my own thought process. haha

Well I planned a ton of other things that I wanted to write, but time is short. Real quick, I have been studying about the Atonement of Jesus Chirst. I read an amazing talk from Brad Wilcox titled, "His Grace is Sufficient"... I HIGHLY recommend it. It really opened my eyes. 

I am excited beyond words to watch General Conference this weekend with you all! I love Conference!!!! 

I pray that all is well with you and hope that you are seeing the Lord's Hand in your life, as I am in mine. I know He knows each of us personally and has a plan behind everything that happens in our lives. We just need to trust in Him, be obedient and love as He loves. I Love you allll !!!! 

Love, Sister Edwards

Thank you Irmã Neusa for the car ride!
Rachel: 'He Reminds me so much of Steven Sharp Nelson from the Piano Guys!'
Feeding a bird
Beautiful Brazilian Sky
Beautiful Sunset (Dead Mango Tree)
Roberto's Birthday

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014- Assis, São Paulo, Brazil

Hello family and friends!

I had a great week! Full of ups and downs and turn arounds. We had Zone Conference in Marília! It was soooo great! Our assistants gave a GREAT training. I felt so strongly the need to make differences in my personal life to become who the Lord expects and knows I can be. I love meetings and conferences because they really help me to reflect on my progress as a missionary and get recharged and going again. Sometimes we fall into patterns that seem normal but moments like this call us out and show us our potential, reminding us of our ultimate goals. I admire my President so much! He is very spiritually intuned and dedicated to his calling and the Lord. He is a great example to me. He was really sick that day but he still gave the 3 hour training he had prepared. The spirit filled the chapel as he testified. I learned so many new truths. It was great! 

One of the other great things was that I finally received mail!!!!!!!!! YES! Just like christmas! This time.. literally.. haha. 
Thank you- Amber, Thayne, Min, Ethan, and Jayne, for the Christmas package!! 
Thank you- Blake for the Birthday Present! 
Thank you- Lehi YSA 2nd Ward for the letters and Christmas package!! 
Thank you MOM!!!!!!!!! the the incredible stuffed package! AHHHH!!! 

I am still so overwhelmed with the love everyone shows me! I feel that I dont deserve all this but I truly appreciate it, more than words can express! My companion is really excited too! I think I am set on goodies for the rest of the year with all these packages put together haha. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I receive the best news today! Remember our sweet convert, Taisha, from Oklahoma? She is strong in the church and is preparing to go on a mission!!!!!!!!! I am sooooooo happy for her!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Here in Assis, Vitor was all set to get baptized yesterday but at the last minute his mom said that he needs to wait more time. He is so patient and loving and understanding. We are fasting a praying for him. He is a great example for his family. His day will come for sure! We are doing all we can to help him and I have no doubt that he will be baptized sooner than we all know it! 

Our house was infested with ants this week. Everyday was a 'fun' game of "how many thousands can you kill?" They sure migrate fast. Today was a deep cleaning of our apartment. I dont think it has ever been cleaner. Brasil has soooo many ants. In Portuguese they are called Formigas. You know the feeling of when your leg falls asleeps? They call it "formagindo" which is like ants are crawling all over ya. haha thats the random fact of the day.

Well, this week is full of promise. We were a little lost this week exploring the newer areas of our now gigantic area! But thanks to our handy dandy old fashion map we found our way around. We met lots of people and are excited for the new projects here. 

Thanks for the love and support! I appreciate all the emails. I pray all is well where ever you are! Have a wonderful inspiring week!! 

Love, Sister Rachel Edwards

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014 - Assis, São Paulo, Brasil

Dear Family,

First, Happy St. Patricks day!! (aka my half birthday haha)

WOW. I am feeling very overwhelmed with love from all the many many emails I received today. I LOVE YOU ALLLLL!!!! I wish I had words to express how I am feeling today. 

Today is tranfsers!!! Sister Butler and Sister De Moura our amazing Sister Training Leaders that we lived with are on their way home! They finished their mission. I am going to miss them a lot here in Assis. They were incredible example to me.

This city of Assis was split into two areas with 4 sister missionaries to work the branch. But now they closed the area and Sister Bispo and I are responsible for the WHOLE city! The branch actually includes Assis and other small neighboring cities. It will definitely be an adventure this transfer! We have a ton of goals and are reallllly excited to get going. 

This week was really great. We had a tons of help from members and really saw a difference that it made. Members: Your testimonies are GOLD. When a member (or normal person... in the eyes of an investigator) bears testimony their hearts are touched and they really see the Light that you have. As missionaries we have the sacred and special privilege to be a representative of Jesus Chirst for a designated amount of time and people see the difference in us. But when you combine the light of a faithful missionary with the love and light of a faithful humble member, it is impossible to deny! I feel this especially with todays youth. Thank you for sharing your light, testimonies and love! 

I have been studying recently about the Gospel of Jesus Chirst. I invite you to reread the well known chapters of 2 nephi 31, 32 and 33. I love the words of nephi. He really does speak so clearly. I have a strong testimony that that is the ONLY WAY back to our Father in Heaven. Only the Pure Gospel of Chirst can truly save us. I think it is also interesting that those who dont yet understand these truths cant blame it on being complicated. It is our own responsiblity to search out truths and answers and because the gospe l is clear and pure the spirit will testify in our heart and we will begin to comprend what we are learning, but we must search it out! 

We had some great lessons with our recent convert Roberto. He is so converted. He taught some lessons with us this week and testified with such power and authority of what he knows to be true. It was a very humble and gratifying moment to see him applying all we taught him. He received the preisthood this week! He was so happy and I admired so much his faith and dedication. We are now teaching his son and  daughter in law. Talk about prepared hearts!!! We are very excited for them!

We also are teaching a young man named Vitor. He is getting baptized this next sunday. He has been waiting for a long time for permission from his parents. He is 16. He loves the book of mormon and loves studying the scriptures and learning. He is very open minded and obedient. This is the first time he is recieve the lessons from missionaries. What a privielge to teach someone so ready to hear the truth! 

I love the work of the Lord. If i could I would be a missionary forever... scratcht that.. I will be! I am extremely happy to hear all about Leonardo's baptism. What an incredible day for him and his family:)

Love you all! have an amazing miracle filled week! Dont forget that we are all instruments in the Lords hands and he will use us if we are willing and worthy.

I love this Gospel and I love you!

Love, Sister Edwards

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014 Assis, São Paulo

Hello Everyone!

This week was good, not our best, but not the worst. I think it is interesting how we really do need to experience opposition in all things to recognize the goodness and joy that is available.

This Sunday we had 3 new investigators in church. Our Pastor friend didn't make it to church this week although, we were able to teach him the plan of Salvation this week and he had lots of great questions. And, before we invited him to be baptized he began to talk about the changes in his life that would have to happen in order for him to be a part of the church. So he had already been thinking about baptism and is receiving an answer about this, the Restored Gospel! The thing he is struggling with, is the feeling of not being at the 'top' anymore... PRIDE my friends is a sin difficult to let go of...We are trying to help him realize the blessed opportunities he will have as he learns more about the Priesthood. 

One young man, Humberto, that came for the first time yesterday really liked how he felt there (the Spirit!!!). It is a neat story. We met him on Saturday when we went to go visit his Mom, who we had met in the street that week. When we got there he also was there, and we taught them both about the Restoration. He was very interested to learn these new things but was reluctant to visit the church on Sunday. We prayed with them and promised them the blessing of Church attendance. 

The next morning, we stopped by his house to see if he would go to church with us. His mom answered and said he was in the shower. She said that Humberto woke up early. He wanted to go back to sleep but he saw the Book of Mormon and pamphlet we left and picked it up and started to read. He decided he needed to go and got up to get ready. She said this was different for him to do something like that, "reading the Bible in the morning, in bed." He went to church on his own and really enjoyed it! We are excited to continue to teach him.

All the youth went to FSI, the new EFY ('Especially For Youth') this week. It was sooo incredible to hear all of their testimonies when they got back. All were eager to help us:) One young man, Jarede, helped teach with us yesterday. His bore the most sincere testimonies in each lesson. I am so impressed with the faith of the youth today. They are truly living what they believe and serving with all their hearts as Christ did. They radiate His love.

I am so happy many youth from my former area, in Maringa, were able to attend EFY. I am so excited for Leonardo's baptism this week! I am so happy for him and wish I could be there in person. Parabéns nosso eleito!!!! :)

Thank you for all the love and support! I love you all and I know this is where the Lord needs me in my life right now. He has a plan for all of us and loves us each individually. I love being a missionary and would not trade this time for ANYTHING!!!!!!!!

Love, Sister Rachel Edwards

Still utilizing skills learned in Africa...

Cute lil puppy...
Ward Mission Leader's Birthday BBQ 
Happy Missionary

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014- Assis, São Paulo, Brazil

Rachel loves this fruit. And it is abundant in Assis.

Sister Lima. (Irmã Osana!)
Baptism of Diná.
Thuany and Sister Edwards
Love that fruit!
Train runs though the city...
Pan on head to block the hot, hot, sun!

Ola Minha Família!!!!! 

Guess what? On February 29, 2014, I hit my 9 month mark!!! In other words, I will never hit my 9 month mark because 29th of Feb didn't happen this year. haha :) Ironic huh? But! For 2 days (Feb 28 and Mar 1) I celebrated my half way mark of the mission. I can't believe that I am now on the downhill side of the time line. The time passes sooooo fast. Its sad.. really. I love being a missionary and I never want to be released!! Good thing Every member a missionary right?? Ok, time to not be trunky haha.

This week is Carnaval. If you dont know what that is DONT LOOK IT UP! Pretty much it is a holiday that happens after people celebrate the Passover. The word Carnaval has a root word which is Carne which mean meat/flesh aka "the natural man." (Flesh and bones). So this is a holiday where people celebrate by... breaking the law of Chasity freely. It is quite distrurbing and I have not met a member who "likes" Carnaval. 

This Sunday in Relief Society the Sisters were talking about ways they can portect their children from the evils in the world today. Sadly the world makes this holiday seem exciting with all of the colors and parades and dancing but sadly it is a face for something that is not pleasing. The Church understands this and has an excellent answer for the youth. During Carnaval they hold EFY!!!!!!!! All the youth allll over the country are gathering this week to be spiritually uplifted in goodness, safe from the crazy sinful world. This week we be a little hard as there will be lots of people traveling to the big cities or to ranches (people in the US visit their cabins, here they visit their ranches and farms) to party. BUT I know that the Lord people ready to be taught that are here in the city still.

During the same Relief Society Meeting one Sister made a comment and comparison that I liked a lot and would like to share with you all. She said, (Talking about impure thoughts) "You can't ask a bird to land in a tree, but if he lands you can shew him away." Our minds are these trees, and as Latter-Day Saints we should be consistently trying to keep our minds and actions clean and pure. I like this comparision because sometimes little birds do land on the branches of our mind, but it is our choice to shew them away or let them stay and build a nest and live there. We really do have the choice. It's interesting too. 

One time back in Oregon a bird built a nest in our Barbeque. When we cleaned it out it came back several times to rebuild it's nest. Stubborn little bird. It was always less work to clean out the bits of grass and sticks than to build a nest. It is the same with our thoughts. It is much easier to repent of sin before we let it grow and worsen. But it is even wiser to not let it stay in the beginning. That is why DAILY repentance is essential. That is why it is important to decide BEFORE the bird lands, but when we see it come to shout,  "You are not welcome here!" and make it leave. Sad.. haha I like birds, but I also like the analogy haha. 

This week I have also been studying a lot about Covenants and the importance of covenant making and keeping. I learned so much about the first covenant of Baptism. It is so important that we understand that we are making a promise with our Father in Heaven. And really it is simple to keep our convents, we just need to continue to live the Gospel. I love how everything connects and leads back to the importance of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Chirst. It is only though Him any of this is possible. 

I invite you to read the talks from the General Relief Society Broadcast this past Fall. They are wonderful! I finshed studying all the talks from this past conference today. I know that they were inspired by God. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet and that the 12 Apostles are men of God with the Power and Authority to guide all men back to our home in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Lastly, and quickly, we are teaching a Pastor- Pastor Reynaldo. He is soooo prepared to hear the gospel! He has been serving people his whole life and always has tried to do what is right. He has had so many misfortunes and difficulties happen to him and as he has only lived in this city for a few months he has felt a great emptiness. He doesn't know what is missing or why he feels this way since he has always tried to serve God. One morning he decided that he cannot serve effectively and really help anyone until he helps himself and finds out what this empty feeling is; what is missing inside of him. That very afternoon we knocked at his door. 

We, along with a member who came to teach with us for the day had the tender and spiritual expereince to answer the very question he had of what was missing. We taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Chirst by a prophet named Joseph Smith and how we have a prophet who lives today. We taught about the Book of Mormon and testified that this book has all the answers to all of our life's questions and doubts. He humbly accepted and prayed for us as we left. It was such a neat experience and I am very excited to return and visit him more. 

Well, I love you all so very much! I have a million other things I could write and want to but time is short! I pray all is well with you and I would like to thank you for the love support and prayers. I truly feel the strength of your faith everyday as I am able to continue walking and teaching. Thank you!!! 

Love You all! Have a great week!!!

Love, Sister Rachel Edwards