Thursday, August 28, 2014

Aug. 25, 2014- Londrina, Brazil

 Hello Family and Friends,

This will be a quick email because.... I am being transferred! So we are packing a going crazy to get everything done in time. I am use to being in an areas for a long time so this news caught be by suprise! 

President called me last night and told me that I have been called to be a new Sister Training Leader of the mission. I was so torn with emotion when he told me because it is a neat opportunity to tour the whole mission and train beloved missionaries, it is humbling to be called to this responsibility. At the same time, I am looooving Viv Xavier and my companion Sister Nascimento. 

President Genaro continued to explain that Sister Nascimento was also transfered and that she would go with me and we would continue being companions when we proselyte. yay!!! But is gets even better... when I am working my own area I will be with Sister Nasciemento, but when I am doing splits and runs all over the state visiting all the sisters I will be with Sister Sedgwick!!!!!! We are going to be living all together! I am so excited! We were transfered to the other side of Londrina to an area called Antares. We will be close to the airport. I think that I will be staying in this area until the end of my mission. I only have 2 more transfers... 3 months!!! :( I am so sad! I love my mission! At the same time I am excited to see you all soon! 

This week was a lot of ups and downs. We had some incredible experiences and some sad others. Our 2 baptisms fell. One was a problem with the word of wisdom and the other was because he lied in his interview. I was really sad. Oh, you can not feel at peace and lie....the Spirit knows and testifies of the truth. 

At the same time we were able to have some other great lessons. We had a FHE with our investigators and showed them the "graças à ele" video from Easter and taught about the Atonement. It was neat. I am going to miss the members here. They are really wonderful. 

Edmilson was confrimed this week. He brought his daughter to church too. His blessing was really beautiful and I am sure he will domany  great things in the church! 

And Beautiful Taisha, (we taught her and she was baptized in Oklahoma City Mission) will be going through the temple next month!!!! :) 

I love you all. You are in my prayers. 

Especially you Jodi and your family. My heart goes out to you. I love your family so much. May the spirit comfort you in this difficult time. I know the Lord understands what we do not. He can heal us all and give us the peace we need and search for. Love you Jodi, Ben, Megan and Ellie. 

Boa Semana!
Love Sister Edwards

Temperatures are rising again. It is getting really hot. Cooling off outside refrigerator. ;)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Aug. 18, 2014- Londrina, Brazil

You know that feeling when you are just really happy? On the verge of laughing randomly just because you feel so relieved and entergentic? Well, thankfully the stress has gone away and once again I am feeling super happy!! This week was great! Those two baptisms I said that had fallen were rescued and we baptized two more future priesthood holders! yay! 

I am sooo grateful for our leaders. I have the BEST district leader. He sacrifices so much to help all of us out. His name is Elder Coelho (Bunny in English haha). This week I had a very low moment, feeling extremley overwhelmed with a certain situation that had occured and he was able to truly follow the spirit using the scriptures to show me how aware the Lord is of me, my companion and our investigators. I felt a great deal of comfort from the scripture and the way the spirit testified to me. Because of the moment and decision I made afterwards we were blessed this our 3rd baptism in this area. 

Cristiano was baptized this Wednesday. He was one of the first contacts we made when we arrived the area. He was tough, a little hard hearted when we began to teach. But perseverance pays off! We prayed and fasted and went to his house to follow up almost every day since the first and he has really turned his life arround. He was able to stop smoking and receive a divine personal revelation that this is the true and only way. He was suuuper nervous at the beginning of the baptismal service, though talking to him afterwards, we asked how he felt. He said that the water was reallllly cold but then afterwards he felt a joy so big that he knew he had done the right thing. We are so proud of him and the way he his living his life now. 

We also had the baptism of Edmilson. He was also one of the first references of a member the first week we got here. He was even harder than Cristiano because he was super prepared and didn't have to change a lot, just the way he thought. He had alot of fear. The Lord blessed him with several revealing and comforting dreams these past weeks. But fear always got the best of him. The Assistants came to interview him, He was interviewed for over 2 hours!!! He past the interview except did not have the courage, still. 

We taught him in a members home the next night. I literally was out of words. After weeks of trying I didnt know what else to do. The members in the lesson tried to help him understand and said many inspiring things but nothing that seemed to really help him decide. In the moment, that we all felt empty, their son, who is 8 years old went into the office got a piece of paper and wrote a note on the paper that said "Will you embark on this journey?" He taped it to pencil (like an arow) and showed Edmilson a picture of the temple and the arrow he had made. The spirit filled the room. We all watched in silence. I have never seen anything like this in my mission, or life! 

He wrote another that read "You should pray and ask if the answer is yes or no." We, all amazed and in awe, all knelt to pray. Edmilson said a sincere prayer asking for guidence. There was a long silence afterwards and then the brother (Edmilsons friend) began to quitely sing "I stand all Amazed". We all joined in, crying. Edmilson too. Then Mauricio (the son) took the book of gospel pictures he had used to show the temple and began to teach Edmilson about each picture. Baptism, receiving the holy ghost, taking the sacrament, doing baptisms for the dead, being married in the temple. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnssed on my mission. A child, so pure and inspired. All of us had given up. But the Lord had a plan and used this child to help this man make a life changing desicion. Edmilson was baptized Saturday night. 

We are teaching other very special people. João, William, Ivanildo, Cristiana- please include them in your prayers! 

I LOVE being a missionary! I was mistaken when I wrote that last week was the last week of the transfer, actually this week is. I think I will stay. I hope so anyways! 

Have an incredible week!!! 

Love You all!!!

Love, Sister Rachel Edwards

Mauricio, inspired 8yr old boy

Burying our 'weapons of war' FHE

Companion is a very talented artist

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some photos over the past year

Some neat experiences from past letters:

~Brazil is amazing! I am so comfortable here. I had a lot of worries coming; hearing many things; but to explain simply, I feel like I'm in the US but with everyone speaking Portuguese. I drink the water with no problems. There are cars, buses, stores and houses. Normal toilets and so on. Very easy adjustment! I am counting my blessings for sure! Yes, toilets are important! We did not have those when I was in Africa! :)

I LOVE The food! It is mostly rice, beans, salad, and meat of some kind, but is always prepared differently and soooo yummy! We do not eat dinner here. So we snack...granola bars, etc. My Mom is sending me some peanut butter...thank you so much, Mom!

~Que Semana! I am really lost on what I have told you all already. The days and weeks are really blending together and flying by. 

This week we worked a lot with a family. Simone, Rodrigo and their three boys Felipe, Tiago and Matheus. They are a very special family. Simone and Rodrigo are both trying to stop smoking. We have tried lots of techniques and nothing seemed to work and so we received inspiration one day. It was really neat. They had decided to give up and we taught them more in depth about the atonement of Jesus Christ and about Repentance. Then I asked for their cigarettes...
     They gave them to me thinking I would cut them or take them with me. Instead I took out some pamphlets and cut out a few pictures of Christ and slipped it behind the plastic on the front if the box of cigarettes. I wrote on the front, "Você consegue porque eu te amo." Which means, You can do it, because I love you. Then I gave them back their packs o cigarettes, still full, and I spoke softly and said, "Everytime you go to smoke, look at this and remember all that Christ suffered and sacrificed for you. He loves you, you CAN do this, because you are doing it for yourself, your family and for Him."

They kept quiet for awhile and finally accepted our invitation to repent. The next day we went to follow up and Simone who normally smoke 20 cigarettes a day hadn't smoked any. Miracles are real! She has made soooo much progress. Her husband also reduced a ton! 

I truly know that everything is possible through Jesus Christ, when we truly understand what he did for each of us individually and understand what our part is to thank and honor that sacrifice. Our part is REPENTANCE and CHANGE. I love being a missionary and being able to see people comprehend and apply these truths. 

A real miracle is a change of heart. 

Faith without works is dead, and those works are: daily, sincere repentance. 

It is through our faith that miracles happen. It is through Faith in JESUS CHRIST, our SAVIOR. He has this title, Savior, for a reason. I know that he is our Savior and that he loves us and that we can change because of him. 

I have faith is Jesus Christ. I know He lives and I KNOW this is His gospel restored to the earth. I know that He guides and directs this church. I know that He is coming and we MUST prepare. What a blessing to know these simple yet essential truths. 

~I am very grateful for the Atonement. Because of Christ, death has been overcome and we CAN return and live with God in the Celestial Kingdom. We need repent everyday and remain pure so that we can have this great blessing in our lives. I know that death is not the end. Even though we continue to miss our loved ones, one day will we be reunited. We need to do everything we can now to prepare for our eternity. This life is short. There is no time to wait. We need to act today. Repent today. Serve, and love today. No one knows tomorrow, only the Lord. Let us accept the love of our Savior and his atonement by repenting, learning and studying from the scriptures, praying, going to our church meetings and serving our fellowmen. This is enduring to the end. It really is enjoying to the end...the blessing of a life to live and learn. 

~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 !!!! 

~My fingers are really stiff trying to type because it is suuuuper cold today! The temperature has dropped! Here in Brasil they build the houses so that they can be nice and cool during the hot weather, which is great. Its just that when it is freezing cold outside, inside in just as cold! But I am enjoying the colder weather, it feels like forever since I have passed though a "winter."

This week I have learned a lot! I have had such great studies in the morning as I have began to re-study Preach my Gospel from the beginning again. I love studying about the Restoration of the Church and the importance of the priesthood keys and living prophets and apostles. I know that the Priesthood has been restored and I am so grateful to live in a time where we can easily access this Holy Power of God. 

I know that with out the Priesthood all our good actions and intentions to follow the Savior would only be that- Good actions and intentions. We need the preisthood the SEAL and connect our works here on earth to be vaild in Heaven too. I admire our recent converts who are worthy men receiving and using this preisthood worthily to pass the Sacrament. 

Roberto arrives early to church every Sunday to prepare the Sacrament table. He humbly serves and passes the sacrament during the meeting. Antonio received the Aaronic Preisthood 2 weeks ago and is preparing to baptize our next investigor Pedro. He has been helping us teaching him and is so excited to see him accepting the Gospel. 

I also have relearned a simple truth from the example of the heroic Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon. 

Alma 5:45- 45 "And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me."

Just as the invitation of the Book of Mormon invites us to pray and ask God if it is true and by the Holy Ghost we will receive an answer, Alma testifies that it works. He wanted to know if everything that he was preaching was true. And so what did he do? He fasted and prayed. And by the Holy Spirit he received an answer. 

I wanted to put this to test. So this week a fasted and prayed to know if the Bible is true. I realized that I have never asked God this before. That I was just born knowing the Bible is the Holy word of God. (This is the case with the majority of people). I have already prayed about the Book of Mormon and received an answer and can say that yes, I know it is true. I wanted to have this same conviction about the Bible so that when I teach people the spirit of my testimony can back me up. And also so that I can understand more of what the Lord wants me to understand. 

It just so happened (completely unplanned) that morning during studies, my Book of Mormon reading linked to the Doctrine and Covenants, which linked to the Bible. When Joseph Smith was restoring the Church and read something in the Bible and had a question he inquired the Lord and the Lord revealed the complete truth. 

Time after time I read examples like this that morning. While sharing my studies with my compaion she helped me recognize that I had shared everything from the Bible. I realized how important and essential the Bible also was in the restoration of the Church along with the Book of Mormon and Revelation. I know that the Bible is true as far as it has been translated correctly side by side the Book of Mormon. We truly do have the FULLNESS of the Gospel with the Standard works of the Church. I am sooo grateful for the sciptures. I love to read them and i truly feel the spirit testify of their truthfulness. 

We had a great family home evening with our Eleito Leonardo. We taught about Lehi's dream and the Tree of life. It was really wonderful because we used rope as the 'rod of iron' that led to their tv room with a projector that had a picture of the 'tree of life'. We had his Dad be Lehi and arrive at the tree first. The other people there tempted the other family member to leave the rod and his Dad watched as they struggled to meet him. It was really humbling to watch this nonmember family embrace the truths of the Gospel and understand the importance of family unity and helping each other stay on the path. Leonardo is blessed with a wonderful family who supports him in his decision to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I pray I can come back for his baptism!!! 

~I am leaving Maringa. Only one week and I transfer. It is very sad to say goodbye to the people I have come to love. And they have been so good to me. What a blessed area this has been. There are so many faithful saints in Maringa. I will be forever grateful for coming here and living among such blessed people.

Now the time has come and I am moving on. Change has been a hard thing for me, but I am learning what joy it truly brings. I can't stay too comfortable or I won't grow! I need new challenges. Wow, I think I am pep talking myself right now. Leaving my area here is going to be really hard! I love these people. 

~ I am sad to be leaving Assis. Six months in Maringá and 6 months in Assis. I have made lasting friendships and have several special memories in these areas. Both feel like home. I am also sad to be leaving my companion Sister Buás. We learned and grew so much together. She is staying here in Assis. Her companion is coming today and there will also be another companionship coming to split the area! Thank goodness! This area is huge! It is more than 5 cities! We need the help. The members are excited to have 4 sisters again. 

Last night, all of my recent converts and a few members had a going away party for me. They made a suprise video of pictures, music and quotes of my time here in Assis! They all wrote special poems and notes to me and we did a secret friend gift exchange. I was totally suprised. I felt sooo loved. 

I also realized even more how much I love each of those people. It was such a blessing and privilege to teach them, and I feel, as they were changing, I too was learning and growing with them. Roberto, Sueli, Antonio, Pedro, Claudio, Marcio, Mayara, Thaytane and Rafaela have a special place in my heart.

We had our Zone conference with The Assistants and President and Sister Genaro. It was incredible. I sure do love them! I learned a ton! At one point during the training President Genaro asked me and Sister Buás to teach all the missionaries how to help a person who doesn't believe in God. I was soooo nervous! There were almost 50, maybe more, missionaries there, all looking at me! But it was neat because I said a quick prayer to help me calm down and I was able to teach as if it was a person in our neighborhood-naturally. And Sis Buás, who is so new, did a great job! 

President Genaro said that he really liked our example. I was grateful for the Spirit who guided us in that moment. I have a testimony that the Spirit truly guides and orients us. 

Cool news! The Church thought that we would have difficulties teaching and baptizing in Brasil during the World Cup. But.... we had the opposite happen. Our mission broke a record and we had more 203 baptisms in the month of July. cool huh?! 3 were ours here in Assis:) Our mission might be in the church magazines or church news. If so, watch for us! 

 ~I love you all. Thank you for the prayers and support. 

~Rachel also challenged us to "Be someone's miracle"