Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 55: The Sun'll Come Out... with the Gospel!

I would first just like to say that my friend from BYU, Cami, sent me her wedding pictures today. I don't understand marriage and it is just SO WRONG that all of my friends are married. hahahahaha good thing I'm always singleeee! How does marriage even happen?

But she looked gorgeous. She and her husband, Neil, got married in the San Diego temple, so that is pretty cool. I guess they're really cute and stuff.

Anyways, back to missionary work! It's better anyway.

This week was an interesting one. Just full of good stuff! And mistakes. I noticed yesterday just how many mistakes we've been making lately, like being super late to appointments, forgetting to call people when they were waiting on our phone call, scheduling things with the wrong person and therefore not showing up to appointments... But as I remembered all of this, it was right before church started. And during ward council we had another training on enhancing the power of the Sabbath Day, so even while I was thinking about all the things I've done wrong lately as a missionary and how I just haven't lived up to what I should have, I remembered that I was about to take the sacrament.

One interesting thing that our Elder's Quorum president, Brother Costa (#brazilian) said was that the Atonement without the sacrament would be limited, because there would be no way for us to formally and officially accept the sacrifice that Christ made for us. I haven't studied all of this out, mind you, but it makes sense. Each time that we do something wrong, we need the Atonement. But I think in order to use it and become clean again, we need to go through the repentance process AND we need to take the sacrament. Remember, the sacrament is an ordinance, one that we take for OURSELVES, over and over again. Why? Think about it. We need it. 

So with all that in mind, I think that particular sacrament meeting was one of the most sacred that I have experienced, because I remembered what it was for and I was very aware of things that I wanted to have a clean slate from. I'd encourage all of you to take the time to truly prepare for the sacrament this Sunday so that it can be a really sacred experience for you too. 

The gospel is amazing. I wish I had much more time to be able to study it! After the mission. After the mission.

Well, we visited a lot of people this week. OH!! And we had a MINI-MISSIONARY with us! Sister Hansen. She is so great. She is going to Missão São Paulo Sul in October, so she came with me and Sister Couto for a day and the English sister for the rest of the time. She's the redhead in all the pictures. She is really great. She speaks WAY more Portuguese than I did when I started, haha, so she'll do great in Brazil. 

This week we really started focusing on individual members of Anselmo and Clarice's family. We started truly teaching Walter, their 10 year old brother. Man, that kid has QUESTIONS! He asked us why Jesus Christ had to die for us, so we explained to him all about the Fall and the Atonement and everything. Crazy kid! He's really great though. He thinks a lot and really wants to learn, so he doesn't like Primary very much... oh well. We also taught Maria, the mom of the family, and even though our Kriolo is just not good enough to be able to truly talk to her, I felt like we had a really good lesson as we taught the first part of the Restoration. Maria speaks, like, ONLY Kriolo, so it's an interesting experience. But if I had no other reason to learn Kriolo, I would still learn it just so I could teach her. Please pray for her. She's trying to get work on Sundays, but her boss said no. She still wants to try to get it off every other week though! Man, she is the greatest. She will pray to see if she should be baptized on August 30th, but she said she does want to be baptized, even though she was baptized in the Catholic church already. That's a big deal, friends. 

Also, we started teaching Brianna. Brianna is the girlfriend of Anselmo and Clarice's older brother (I don't know his name....). She lives with him, so the Silveiras are pretty much her family. We can tell she is in an extremely delicate and difficult situation, but we are so excited to be teaching her. Sister Couto and I talk allllll the time about how the gospel will change her life for forever, in every way you can imagine. To start, we taught her about the purpose of life and the Atonement of Christ. It was really great, and I feel like we are at a really good level with her now. Later, we read Alma 32 with her because she didn't read it before for her assignment. That was a miracle lesson:

She said she didn't really want to meet with us, but she agreed to anyways. We were going to teach the Plan of Salvation but decided to just read with her. When we got to the house, it was sprinkling and the clouds were super gray. But as we read with her on the side porch of the house, the sun slowly came out until the clouds and rain were almost completely gone at the end of the lesson. Her mood (and mine, it was a tough day before that) changed completely!! She loved it. She said she wanted to read more, so we gave her 2 Nephi 31. She is awesome. She's 21, so she's our age, and you can tell that she has so many more dreams for her life than what she can see now. Luckily, our message of the gospel is about HOPE and the fulfilling of dreams through Christ. Brianna is so completely prepared. We can see that this road to her conversion will be really rocky and she may even try to drop us and stop it all at some point, but we KNOW that this is what she didn't know she wanted. And it's exactly at the right time.

That is why I love being a missionary. We have the opportunity to witness the change the gospel makes in people's lives. It's truly a miracle and the greatest thing on earth to see a testimony grow (like a seed :) ).

On Thursday we also taught a less-active member named Rosie. She is so great. She hasn't gone to church for 14 years, ever since she got pregnant out of wedlock. But you can tell that she has a testimony. She even told the Jehovah's Witnesses that we believe in 3 kingdoms versus Heaven and Hell! That's when you know she's a good one. Anyways, we had a great lesson with her as we talked about our experiences that converted us to the church. We really want her to read the Book of Mormon every day, because we know that with that as her center, all else will fall into place.

Also, side note, we planned with the Elders for 30 investigators this week. You read that right--we have T-H-I-R-T-Y current investigators. Those elders work hard! They keep finding a TON of new people to teach, and we haven't even met them all yet haha. They also extended a baptismal date to a man name David Lopes who has come to church a bunch of times, and he accepted!! He will be baptized on August 16th, and Sister Couto and I will go start teaching him too this week. The Lord is truly pouring out His blessings on us here in Central Falls. I love this place. The people here are so prepared! 

 We also had some amazing member helps this week. Clara Goncalves is the man. The woman? Seriously, she keeps telling us all about all of the people she wants to help reactivate, and we're just like "oh, sure."

Jared, I promise that when you get to the field and you really start teaching people, you will see the blessings of missionary work. There is no work that is greater and nothing I'd rather be doing right now (even if all of my friends are getting married without me...). The gospel truly changes people's lives, and it will change yours too.

I hope you all enjoy yet another great week of Summer! I'm so glad to hear that Ben had a great time at Youth Conference. That sounds like it was so fun. (Emmett is one of my favorite people ever, by the way. That kid rocks!) Alyssa is going to be a great Beehive President. Go reactivate those less-active girls! And Spencer and Ryan, I'm sorry, but you'll always be the "little boys". Sorry, not sorry. 

Dad, someone (I think Sister Watts) told me the other day she wouldn't have guessed that I was so funny, or something along those lines. I've just been seeing more and more each day how I am your daughter hahahaha. The whole leading people not being led? Yeah, me too. Enjoy Utah! Remember, no blood or broken bones. 

Momma, thanks for being the best. Have fun at your stamping day :) I told Sister Couto how you have stamping friends from the internet and she thought it was just as funny as I do :)

I love you all. Thank you for all of the prayers you constantly send my way. I am absolutely positive that without them, I would not make it through one day here.

Go study the scriptures!

Oh! I forgot. We had an impromtu wedding on Saturday night, and it was awesome because it brought 3 AWESOME potentials to us!! They speak portuguese, 2 just got married, and the other we talked to is absolutely amazing and already has a testimony of the gospel (she was a former investigator a while ago in Brockton!) What? #millionsofmiracles

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 54: Summer Time

We had this strangely wonderful day a few days ago where the high was like 74. That was so great. Otherwise, we've been climbing up in the temperature lately! It's super hot and grossly humid, so I am grateful for our car. This, this is why America is the best. (in Brazil the missionaries literally walk everywhere, soooo). Haha sometimes Sister Couto and I have little arguments about which is best. Usually it's just me pointing out something really patriotic about America. It's funny, I was never so patriotic at home...

This week!! 

It was a crazy one. Most of it was focused on getting Anselmo and Clarice prepared for their baptism! (ps. his name is spelled with an s.... which goes against like everything in Portuguese, but he is Cape Verdean. But his real name is actually Odair. Anselmo is just his nickname, what we call a "nominho". Crazy Cape Verdeans.) So we finished teaching them the commandments and lesson 5, which is about temple work and missionary work and service and things. Anselmo had to be interviewed by President Miller, but luckily there weren't any problems, and President was even able to come the very next day after we called him. He's awesome, by the way. 

So last week we were running, and this past week we sprinted too! It was good though. The day of their baptism (yesterday) we only sat down for sacrament meeting. Well, Sister Couto translated into English (for the kids who don't understand Portuguese), and led the music AND gave a talk. I just played the piano and sat there :) After that meeting though, we ran around to help a less active member get an interview with the bishop and we printed the baptismal programs and we cut out visiting teaching assignments for the PO RS, then we helped translate the interview, then we wrote in journals to give to the kids being baptized, we folded the programs, then when all the classes were over, we set up a Portable Visitor Center display (Sister Couto was a PVC sister for a while, so she knows all about that. There are pictures on dropbox if you want to see what I'm talking about). We set up the chairs, we took pictures, and all that stuff so that the baptism could start! 

It was so good. There was a sweet Spirit there and Clarice and Anselmo were so happy. They bore their testimonies at the end, and it made Irmão Machado cry. We think it touched Ana Goncalves too :) Anselmo got interviewed to get the priesthood, so he should be ordained next week! They'll be confirmed this Sunday.

Thank you all for your prayers for them. I know they were answered--Clarice had a sore throat almost all week long, but it got better very quickly. It was a fairly smooth week before a baptism, so I know that you prayers helped a lot! 

Other than our miracle kids, we had some other miracles this week! In the digital mission, we passed off two investigators after the first skype!! That means we skyped them once and they decided they would like to meet with the missionaries in their area (Hamburg, Germany and Accra, Ghana, if you were wondering). Both sets of missionaries we called were super pumped, which was so good to hear. And the ones in Ghana are sisters, so that's awesome :) The internet really can bring the gospel to everyone!

Speaking of which, if anyone reading this would like to learn more about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel (basically what I teach every single day), let me know! Because I can actually get permission to skype you and then I will be able to start teaching you about these things! This would be really special, because not only would I be teaching my friend the gospel, but I will teach them while I am a full-time missionary. So I'm serious, email me!!


After district meeting on Friday we decided to go on some last-minute splits with Angelica, our group leader's wife, and her daughters. So Sister Couto visited Emilia (the recent convert who decided to take a job that now makes her work on Sundays.... please pray for her and Joao.), which was so good. We don't fully know what's going on, but we know Joao has some doubts about a few things, and it was good for S. Couto and Angelica to talk to Emilia about it. They also visited Ana Goncalves, taught her about prophets, and asked her to pick a day when she would be baptized!! We will follow up on that this week, and we are so excited. She really is progressing! She came to church AND the baptism this week, and it was amazing. By the way, thank you for the advice, Dad! You're totally right. We've been trying to teach her like that using the Book of Mormon Stories book, but it is a perfect idea to compare her relationship with her daughter to that of her and God. PERFECT! We'll do that.

Meanwhile, I went with Juliana, who's 16. We visited Vivane and Yara, David and AnaPaula's daughters. AND GUESS WHAT. THE ELDERS FOUND THEM AGAIN!!! We think there are some issues going on with them, so we're trying to figure that out. BUT. They did also say they were mad at us because we knocked on their door early Sunday morning and we woke up their neighbor. Which, in all honesty, was pretty much our intention. We wanted to wake them up for church. But I guess that caused problems and things. The only thing is that they said we did that on a Sunday when we didn't go to their house at all.... so something is happening, and we'll find out what. Anyways, Juliana and I taught the Restoration to the girls, since they hadn't really been there for that. I think Yara is pretty interested, but she follows her sister's lead, and Viviane doesn't seem quite to accept it all. Yet. We'll keep working with them, but we'll tread carefully so we don't step on anymore toes. 

Those splits were great, which is all I wanted to say. :) That night we helped reorganize Visiting Teaching for the Portuguese sisters, which was sorely needed. 

Saturday we did a lot of work to get ready for the baptism and update records and things! All good stuff.

So it's been a normal crazy missionary week! With 2 more in the fold :) We really want to focus more on the rest of their family now, since a lot of the kids love church and Maria, their mom, REALLY loved church. She said she is going to ask her boss for Sundays off!! Please pray for her to be successful with that, that will be a tough thing to get I think. 

Life is so good. I love Sister Couto. Oh, and for the baptism, Sister Roman and Sister Lima (who are companions now in Lowell) came! So I have a picture of all 4 of us, and we've all been each other's companions except for Sister Couto and Lima. But they were MTC roommates, so they're just a step away. I love those sisters so much!! We've decided we'll all room together at BYU. (and Sister Lima wants to go to BYU now!! Change of heart. It's a real thing). 

I feel like I am just having the time of my life here in Central Falls with Sister Couto. We are working hard, our district is amazing, we work well with the Elders, there are miracles happening, and we are grateful for all of it. I can't say we deserve the blessings we are receiving, but I am grateful and want to work hard for the Lord in that. 

Shoutout to Mom's friend Emily Davis who sent a care package this week!! Thank you for the cookies and preserves, they are being well used and enjoyed :) Sister Couto also got a package from her family this week because they are in the States and it's cheaper that way, so we have a TON of Brazilian treats to eat. I might actually need to watch my weight, because there is a lot of sugar in our house right now... 

Life is so good. The gospel is so good. God is so good! 

I love you all so much. 


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Week 53: Running

The work doesn't stop here in Central Falls! We visited tons of people this week and there were a few days where we were just glad to survive. But something that I'm learning is that the Lord's plan is never frustrated! He always gets what he wants done. I say that because we noticed a lot of opposition and adversity happening in the work and in the lives of our investigators this week. Like, a lot. BUT Sister Couto and I decided we shouldn't dwell on it or talk about it all too much because we need to stay positive and remember that miracles often happen on the edge of exhaustion and stress. They come when we need them the most. So we are still working hard and doing our best to follow the Spirit and do what the Lord wants us to do every day!

For this week I'll give you updates on our investigators, I feel like that is more interesting than going day by day haha.

Ana Goncalves: she came to church!!! After like a month! She brought her 3 year old daughter for the first time, as well as her niece. Her niece is CRAZY. I mean it. We were trying to help her stay quiet through the first 2 hours of church, so Sister Couto and I didn't really get anything from the lessons or talks, and then we lost her right at the beginning of 3rd hour. She ended up being in Primary the whole time or something like that. Whatever works! Anyways, we also taught Ana this week about the Restoration and we applied the training we had at Zone Meeting (I guess I'll talk about that later) and reinforced our purpose as missionaries. It turned out well--we think that she kind of understands why we come visit her a little more. She really needs prayers though--she says that she prays but that she doesn't feel anything or receive any answers. We're not quite sure what to do to help her with that. Any ideas? She's very simple and only reads a teeeeeeensy tiny bit of Portuguese, so it needs to be pretty straight forward with her. We can see that she is in fact progressing though, yippee!

Ancelmo and Clarice: they will be baptized on Sunday!!!!! We are so excited, but I think they are even more excited. These kids are the greatest. We taught them this week about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, missionary work, and we tried to teach about the Sabbath day, but it was with the whole family, which is super crazy every time. Anyways, they came to church and to the ward picnic we had on Saturday (even their mom came to that, which was so good! she works a lot). They are picking their baptismal program and we are RUNNING to finish teaching all of the lessons to them. But here's one example of opposition that comes before a grand spiritual experience--Clarice and their other brother Walter are sick. Like with fevers and sore throats. Nothing super serious, but they really aren't in a good condition to learn. So please pray for them that they will stay strong this week and they will be healthy and prepared for their baptism!! 

Their baptism will be so great. Their mom asked her boss for work off that day, and he said "no way" but she told us she doesn't care, her kids are getting baptized and she will be there no matter what. Pray for her too. 

Ana!  Ah, Ana is so great. So she is the girlfriend of Ancelmo and Clarice's older brother, and she lives above our member Maria Graca. We taught her and her 2 sons, Jose and Jee (short for Jelson) twice this week. The first time was about building our foundation on Christ, and then we taught the Restoration yesterday! It was really great. We extended a soft baptismal invitation to them (meaning without a specific date, like "will you be baptized?") and Jose (12) was like "I want to be baptized!" So we told them they have to pray and know that it's true! The only huge things we can see as obstacles for right now are that Ana works on Sundays (pray for her to be able to get those off so she can go to church) and she lives with her boyfriend. But they are so golden, so ready, and so excited to see Ancelmo and Clarice be baptized. I think that will help them feel the Spirit so much. These people are so GREAT!! Oh, and Jose and Jee came to church and loved it. So we just really need to get Ana to church, because then their little family can be baptized together :)

We also taught this new potential, Luis, about the Book of Mormon and our purpose. He seemed really interested and said he would definitely read the Book of Mormon. We haven't been able to meet with him again. The Elders think that he is just interested because we are pretty girls (this is not untrue), but we have faith that he really was touched by the message. We'll try to see him again.

We also visited Maria Graca a couple of times because she hasn't been to church in a few weeks. We feel like she tells us things that are just excuses, so we're working on understanding the real problem. Before they left for Cape Verdeon Thursday, we visited a lot with Linara and Liara, some less active young women. Their mom came to church on Sunday though!! Wahoo! We're still working with her too. We were able to have a meeting with another less active, Euridece. We'll visit her daughter on Tuesday, then her on Wednesday, so we want to get them to church at least once :)

Saturday we had a Ward Picnic! We managed to scrape by and find rides for all 10 Silveiras who wanted to come. That was a challenge, my friends. But it happened. Not in the prettiest way, but again, we survived. Same with church haha. Rides are tricky things here. 

And the work continues on!

Thursday was great because it was my year mark. We have some just really attractive pictures of me and Elder Friebe (who was in my MTC district, so it was his year mark too) when we all went to get ice cream at our favorite place, Lincoln Creamery. Basically Sister Couto just took pictures of us eating ice cream (separately, don't worry). So gross. 

We also found some more success in the digital mission and skyped 2 new people, one of which who lives in Peru and is interested in "talking about God". So we're up for that!

On Friday we had Zone Meeting in Providence, where we learned a lot about being Preach My Gospel missionaries and how we can begin teaching and emphasize our purpose in every lesson. It was an awesome zone meeting. I think the Providence North zone has some of the best zone meetings I've ever been too, and that's saying something. I have a soft spot for Boston West. 

And there it is! Missionary work is the best. Sister Couto and I are running. That's the best way to do missionary work--just sprint. No reservations, just go out and do work. We aren't perfect, and our language skills need to improve a lot (kriolo is hard..) but we are trying! The Lord is blessing us, and He is blessing the people here.

I hope you all have a great week. Seriously, I have a feeling this will be a good one. Probably crazy for us, but when has missionary work not been crazy for me? I love it. 

I'll work on getting those pictures up. I have no idea what we're doing for the rest of pday, but it might be a barbeque with the elders and it might just been chilling at home and at the church. All good things. 

Keep on enjoying summer! I think I'll personally be glad when Fall comes around again, but that's just me.

Love you lots.

Oh! And a special shout out to my family (mom and Alyssa really) for sending me cookies and cards and things, and a really special shout out to INGRID UNANDER-SCHARIN! Look, I just spelled that all my byself. She sent me a postcard from Florence, Italy, and I don't know what her email is for sure, but it literally made my day when I got it. You know I love Ingrid.

Another thing I just remembered. If you are wondering about David and AnaPaula and their family and what is happening with them, please jump in the boat with us. We have been trying to talk with them for the whole week (calling, knocking on their door, creepily waiting outside their house, everything), but we are pretty sure they are deliberately avoiding us. So if you could just pray that we will be able to find out what happened, that would be so helpful! This is one of those examples of opposition we are finding, but the Lord knows them and what they need. So we know that everything will work out all in His time. But those few extra prayers would definitely be greatly appreciated. :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 52: 525,600 minutes

How do you measure a year as a missionary? In lessons? In baptisms? In times you felt the Spirit?

Sorry if that was too cheesy or something, but I've been working on that one in the shower for about 2 weeks now. I thought it was good.

But President Packard said in his last transfer meeting "for those who were there [in this case, with me on my mission], no explanation is necessary. For those who were not there, no explanation is possible."

I hit my year mark on July 9thThursday. I couldn't even begin to describe all of the things I have learned and felt and experienced and how I have changed and grown. How does a year fly by so darn quickly? I remember when I started my mission... when I entered the MTC almost 362 days ago! And now Elder Knutti is there learning Spanish and how to survive eating the MTC food for 6 weeks. Good luck, brother. You may need it.

Well this week has been another one FULL of great things! Last pday we played ultimate Frisbee, tennis, and soccer with the elders and the Cape Verdean kids that were roaming around the park (including our 11-year old investigator Walter!). It was such a good pday. Except that we were SUPER late to our appointment, so she cancelled on us at her door.... we're getting better, I promise.

On Tuesday, Elder Cagle last minute asked me to play the piano for him and our ZL Elder Scott so they could sing a song at the Welcome Conference with the Millers. So we spent an hour working on Come Thou Fount only to go and buy a song called "O Lord, My Redeemer". But it was worth it. Go look that song up, it is gorgeous. I like it better with the piano than the guitar though. The elders sang it very well buy the way! So great. on Tuesday we also visited Ana Goncalves (who was not baptized last Sunday). We read from the Book of Mormon stories book with her about when Christ came to visit the Nephites. That was perfect for her! The Spirit was so strong as we talked about the story and how He blessed the children. Her daughter has some sort of disability, so I hoped that it touched her heart in some way. I think it did. We finally got it--we need to teach Ana super simply and only one principle at a time. That is how she will best understand.

We also visited the Silveiras (the big family) and taught some of the women the Plan of Salvation! It was awesome.

Wednesday.. we did some digital mission, always exciting, and we weekly planned early. We tried to visit a few people but we did end up visiting AnaPaula, and we taught her the Restoration finally (she's already had the Plan of Salvation). She liked it! She and her husband are still figuring out when to get baptized. She told us on Friday when we saw her again (and taught about the Book of Mormon) that she really wants her husband to change, because things have been difficult for them recently. We promised her that the gospel will help him to change for the better and that we would do our best to help. I love missionary work, guys. It really doesn't get much better than someone confides in you and you can promise the gospel will help solve their problems.

Thursday! We practiced early for the song the elders were going to sing, and we had our Welcome Conference with President and Sister Miller! They are awesome. It's honestly pretty weird that they aren't the Packards, but I think we will get used to them and we will love them just as much as the Packards. They talked about promoting unity (aka Zion), obedience, Preach My Gospel, and discipleship. President Miller is a systems integrator guy, so he will be fantastic for the Digital Mission. Also I'm hoping we get to jump onboard the iPad bandwagon soon.... Watch, Jared will get one his first day. Just watch.

The Conference was just so good. I'm excited to work with the Millers for my last 4 transfers! There must be something I need to learn specifically from them, so I'll just keep running along side them as they work.

We tried seeing other people afterwards but no one was home. We did go to IHOP though! I love pancakes.

Friday was pretty darn productive, if I do say so myself. We taught Ana again (about the Godhead using an egg! Just a drawing because we forgot the egg, but still), we met with our group RS president, had district meeting (where I gave a training on How to Begin Teaching), taught a less active, Antonia, and her girls about the Book of Mormon, contacted some neighbors of our recent converts, taught Clarice (the 12 year old of the Silveira family) and some other girls the Plan of Salvation, and talked with AnaPaula again about the Book of Mormon. Whew!

Highlights of the day: we extended a baptismal date of July 19th to Clarice. We told her to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. She told us the next time we saw her that she felt like God spoke to her and told her that it was good for her to be baptized on July 19th. SHE'S SO GREAT. Her brother, Ancelmo, will also be baptized that day!! These kids are amazing. Seriously. On Sunday they bore their testimonies. Let me say that again--our investigators bore their testimonies. They talked about why they wanted to be baptized and how they know the Book of Mormon is true. At the end of sacrament meeting when Irmao Machado went up to finish the meeting, he cried because he was so touched by their testimonies. This is a big deal, my friends. But please pray for Ancelmo and Clarice that they will be able to have the support they need. Their family likes the church, but it's hard because many of them work on Sundays so it's just hard for them to get to church. They just need prayers.

Oh, and we taught them again on Sunday night--plan of salvation for Ancelmo this time-- and it was great. Some of their friends came over too and started to listen!

The rest of Sunday was fine, we just hunted down people that didn't go to church. I think because of the holiday on the 4th, everyone stayed up late.. we knocked on a lot of peoples' doors in the morning to get them to go to church, but not one of them answered the door. So here's the lesson friends: always go to church, even if you stayed up too late the night before. Always go. Or else the missionaries will pound on your door and you'll get annoyed with us.

But I skipped Saturday!

Because it was INDEPENDENCE DAY for the GREATEST NATION ON EARTH, I made Sister Couto wear red white and blue and we sang America the Beautiful for our companionship study hymn. I dressed like the flag because that was the only appropriate thing to wear on July 4th of course. The Machados invited us over for a churrasco (shoo-ha-scoo), or a barbeque, and it was extremely delicious. That's right--I celebrated America's independence by eating Brazilian barbeque with Brazilians and a Cape Verdean. And it was awesome. We had permission that night to stay out until 10:30pm, so we drove down to Providence with the Elders to watch the fireworks! They were super cool.

You know what else was super cool? When we went to see the fireworks, the Spanish elders found this family of 10 people who are less-actives. From Portugal. That's right, 10 less-active Portuguese members. So we contacted them and we'll reactivate them. The Lord has His own purposes and the work never stops, even on a holiday :)

I think that's it.

We were sad to hear that Boyd K Packer passed away as well this week. His grandson is in our mission. This October Conference will be interesting, but the Lord has everything in His plan and in His timing.

This past week I've been studying some about covenants and their eternal nature. Also, the Atonement is called "infinite" in 2 Nephi 9. It's neat to think about--even the people who lived before Christ could repent of their sins. It's like they were using a credit card as the debt got higher until Christ paid it all. For those of us on this side of history, it is like we are using a debit card when we use the Atonement.

Anyways, I read today too that "covenant" is sometimes called "testament". Think about how the Book of Mormon is called "Another Testament of Jesus Christ". Ponder on that. It's pretty cool.

Well my friends and my family, I love you all. Thank you for your prayers and your support for me. We are having a blast here in Central Falls and I am loving every second of it. Sister Couto is awesome. (Fun fact, before me she was Sister Asay's companion) She will teach me all about photography and all about Brazilian cooking. Get ready. I'll make everyone some good ole arroz e feijão in December, and you WILL like it.

Have a fantastic week! Good luck in the MTC Jared, just love every second of it. The time passes quicker than you can imagine.