Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 75: Back to the Beginning

Well dear family and friends, we have arrived at my last email home. Can you believe it? I can't. I remember when I received Kelsey's (my cousin's) last email in April and I couldn't believe she was already done. But hey, now it's been another 8 months since then. Oh how time flies!

For today's email, I'll briefly tell you what happened in the last week, but then I want to focus on things that I have learned in my whole mission, because I feel that will be a good way to wrap everything up with a bow quite nicely. 

This week was really crazy, but the last few have been just the same haha. Especially because pday was on Tuesday, it barely felt like we had a full week. But here's what happened:
-Exchanges with Sister Meireles (another Brazilian :) ) on Wednesday. I love her! She was so patient as we...
-practiced for the Christmas Fireside, and we changed What Child is This (Dad will know what I'm talking about) to Away in a Manger as a cello trio with me on the piano. Whew! Much better. 
-Sister Bronovski felt really sick on Thursday, so we just weekly planned because she and Elder Rodrigues will need it (Elder Raymond is getting transferred, and they'll have a "verdinho" here!), and we stayed at home.
-So I packed. A lot. And I sent a box home that you should get tomorrow. It's full of books and stuff. It's heavy hahaha
-Last zone meeting on Friday. I had to bear my tearful testimony, but it was so good. I learned a lot from that meeting!
-We had some awesome lessons with Karine (who's name is Carina actually hahahahahahaha), Fabio and Leo (who will be baptized on Jan. 2), Soraia, Vania's family, and Jamila, who is just amazing. 
-I love missionary work
-I worked a lot on My Plan. I'll explain.
-Church! I didn't get to bear my testimony. But Elder Raymond did, because he is getting transferred and they remembered him but not me. I guess that's what happens when your last Sunday is the same as the Bishop's last Sunday. *sigh*
-1st Christmas Fireside! It was AWESOME.

And that's about it. 

So MyPlan is this really cool new program the Church created for departing missionaries. I don't know if Calvin would have done it because I just got it in my email a week or two ago. It's great though--it's a program full of videos and quotes from general authorities and other returned missionaries, and it makes you think about your life and how you will apply the things you learned on your mission to the rest of your life. So I've used it to record some life goals that I have, plans on how to continue my spiritual habits, my "one year vision" and things like that. Currently I'm working on the "Dating and Marriage" section. Watch out Dad, they tell us it's better to get married sooner rather than later (as long as it's to the right person and in the temple :) ). Enjoyyyy.

And the Christmas Fireside yesterday was really special, and the Spirit was really strong. I love being a part of it. Tonight there is one up in Cambridge (Revere actually if anyone knows anything about the Boston area), and so we're going up to Boston for my last pday just because we can :) We have some very talented people in our mission, by the way. Not including me.

This week will be just about as crazy as last week. Today is pday, tomorrow we will visit a lot of people one more time, Wednesday we have a few appointments and we'll pack and clean and go to transfer meeting. After that meeting, I'll stay at the mission home for 2 nights and go to the temple and stuff with all of the other departing missionaries, then I will fly home on Friday. Craziness. So I'll talk to you all more then :)

So here's the important stuff.

I can't possibly wrap my mission up in just a few words, but I want to talk about 18 things that I learned on my mission. Some are funny, some are spiritual, but I am still so grateful for each and every thing that I have learned. 18 things for 18 (almost) months, right? Sorry if they are kind of random, I never figured out a good order to do them.

Things I learned on my mission:
1. Portuguese and Cape Verdean Kriolo
2. ALL things are possible when we have God's help. Even learning a language spoken in only one tiny country of the world.
3. The Lord makes up all the difference, as long as we do our best. Then we will receive all of His help.
4. How to break into a house using a credit card (I only did that to get into our apartment or the staircase of 3 family houses, I promise)
5. Always lock your top bolt if you don't want people to break in.
6. How to cook Brazilian rice and beans, brigadeiro, etc....
7. The more questions we have, the more we can learn. That is why we encourage and should seek to have questions! But questions not to doubt, but to desire more knowledge.
8. I did not need to have a special calling like a Sister Training Leader or a trainer to fulfill my personal purpose as a missionary
9. Progression is up to us--if we want to be and do better, the Lord will help us to progress as we do our part!
10. Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles!
11. Everything about Cape Verde. Ask me the names of all 10 islands, I gotchu.
12. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!!
13. Making goals shows God the faith we have in our abilities, and, more importantly, in HIS abilities! I used to hate making goals. But I love it now. It's a wonderful way to progress.
14. Listening with the intent to understand really is the key to understand!
15. Marshall's is just about the greatest store on the planet earth. And Alex and Ani make the best bracelets.
16. Life is happier when you focus outward.
17. Change is 100% possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I can testify of that from personal experience. He can make us better than we can make ourselves.
18. We are never done learning!

I am so beyond grateful for my mission and the things I have learned and the people I have met and the person I have become. I will never regret this time of my life, because it has been the greatest thing I have EVER done (so far). 

I love the Lord Jesus Christ and I am so grateful for Him and all that He has done for me and for all of us. I am especially grateful for Him at this time of Christmas, and I am grateful for the blessing I have to be with my family this Christmas too :)

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's church upon the earth today. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord and he really restored the church in exactly the way Christ intended His church to be. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. We can grow closer to Him as we read it.

I know so many other things, but I cannot say or express them all here. Just know that this is my firm testimony, and I will not deny it. Like Mormon says in 3 Nephi 5, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. And I will continue to be one for the rest of my life. 

I love you all. I will talk to you all soon!!!
For the last time,
Sister Rachel Knutti

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 74: The Countdown Begins

10 days.

Well my dear friends and family, I have very little desire to write any emails, and I apologize for that. You'll all just have to be patient with me.

I don't remember what we did last week. I don't think I'll ever learn how to survive without my handy dandy missionary planner.

-Lesson with Karine. She's praying about baptism :)
-member dinner with a sweet lady who doesn't hear very well, but I didn't know that haha
-Oh gosh and I got the most annoying parking ticket ever. Why? I parked "more than one foot away from the curb". I had to pay $15 dollars for it!! Why??? Don't worry, I sucked it up and paid the ticket today.

-oh my goodness I had so much to do. Luckily a mission meeting cancelled and we spent hours in the morning finishing something for the mission (we have a lot of responsibilities as departing missionaries)
-we took Beizinha out with us to teach. We didn't teach anyone at all, because no one was home, but we were able to talk with her about some of her concerns and questions. It was very good and a good reminder that the Lord makes sure we do what HE wants done :)

-We talked with Tilan about why Jesus Christ is Jehovah. She mentioned some things that I never thought about before, especially about how much we focus on Jesus Christ. I think I take that for granted usually. But it's so good to strengthen my testimony like that! I love our meetings with her. Tilan is the best. 
-We had a few other lessons, one with an investigator from the Central Falls Sisters, another with Fabio and Leo (17 and 9 year old boys), who accepted baptism for Jan. 2!! We also found Lulucha, a less active lady. She's great!

-weekly planning
-apartment inspection (which means we cleaned. a lot. But our microwave got the Sister-Alger-thumbs-up-of-approval, so I feel quite accomplished.)
-We had dinner at our Primary president's house. Whew, Niquinha could run the world if she wanted to, let me tell ya.

-Last district meeting
-Sister B practiced parking, and she's a pro! Way better than I was haha
-We visited Vania and Nely for the first time all week. It's been strange. I love those girls!

-We took some time to practice parking again
-We taught Zelinda and Zenilda, sisters who have been coming to church for a few weeks already! They were great. Taught by JWs in the past, but they seem really open to us. Too bad we forgot to grab a BoM for them...
-Practiced O Holy Night for Kelly, a member who wants to sing it next week. If you need me to play for Christmas, I'm already doing about every song, so just let me know hahahah
-Dinner with LAURA PINTO!!! She's so great, and her sweet potatoes are magical. (she's one of my recent converts from a year ago :) )

-Church. Actually, Fast and Testimony meeting was one of the most Spiritual church meetings I've ever attended. I love the people here so much and I am so grateful to be serving here again. I have seen some people grow so much! It's amazing. The Gospel is TRUE!!
-An 8 year old baptism we pretty much put on
-We taught Jamila, a super promising new investigator!! Also forgot a BoM for her... we're fubecando guys
-We watched the Christmas devotional, and it was fantastic.

-we woke up at 4:20am
-we drove 2 hours to Connecticut
-We had a really great Zone Conference with Elder Packer of the Seventy! I received a lot of answers to my questions, especially about how to go about going home. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but it does to me haha. For instance, I need to do family history work, or at least learn so much more about my family history, because he talked a lot about how doing that brings the Spirit!!
-Practiced after the conference until 9:30pm for the Christmas firesides that will happen next weekend. 
-drove 2 hours back
-went to bed at midnight. Sometimes it just happens.

So I don't know if it sounds like it, but it was a great, crazy, and FAST week! I think this upcoming week will fly by. For instance, today is already Tuesdaytomorrow we have exchanges, Thursday is weekly planning (always a quick day),Friday is zone meeting, Saturday I might be going back to Central Falls again for the baptism of Zito and Filomena's twin daughters, Sunday is my last Sunday and the Christmas program in church and the 1st Christmas fireside which will be the whole day, Monday is pday and the 2nd Christmas fireside, Tuesday everyone will want to feed me food because I'm going home, Wednesday is transfer meeting and packing all day, Thursday is departing missionary stuff, andFriday I'll fly home.

That's the plan. 

Honestly, if you could all pray for me to stay strong, stay calm, and be able to accomplish all of the things required of me in the next 10 days, that would mean so much. I know these next few days are going to be amazing, but sometimes I get caught up in everything. 

But I really want you all to know how grateful I am to be a missionary. I'm not sure what being home will be like, but I really want to continue this missionary mindset that I have. I love serving the Lord. I want to be better. I am so far from perfect, but I've realized that when I look outside of myself and serve others and focus on them, I seem to find myself a little bit more. (Watch the Mormon Message "Lift", that's where I got that from)

This gospel is amazing. What a blessing it has been to share it for 17 months. I hope to continue that throughout my life though. I hope this week is a fantastic one. Get ready, because when I come home, I will TALK YOUR EARS OFF about Boston, Cape Verde, missions, and everything in between. 

But for now, 10 days left to be a missionary is 10 days to completely totally without any reservations serve the Lord, so I'm going to do it!

And I'll email next week. Honestly, not much, because we'll go up to Boston for the day. If I don't write you this/next week, it does not mean I don't love you. It means I will talk to you on December 19th :)

Thank you for everything everyone. I cannot express how much you all mean to me. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Week 73: Not one, not two, but SIX BAPTISMS.

What a week. 

It wasn't the best week I've ever had, but boy we saw a LOT of miracles. Whew!

-we did a lot of stuff that I really wanted to do. Thank goodness!
-we helped a member do a project for the college class she's taking. I used a lot of teacher-like skills to make HER do at least part of the project, even though I could have done it in 30 minutes flat. Instead it took 2 hours. Ah, service.

-awesome Thanksgiving webex (online meeting) with our mission president and many senior couples talking about the things they are grateful for. 
-Subway for lunch and a meeting with our assistant ward mission leader, a recent RM
-Service. We got some free onions and sweet potatoes!
-we taught Neni the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is SO INTELLIGENT! She loved church when she went last week. She was supposedly "doing laundry" this week and didn't come...
-We taught Carla and Nely to prepare them more for their baptism!
-after walking out of Carla's house, we didn't know who to see. It was maybe 7:45pm. We stood at a corner for a minute, when a member, Lucy, drove up and asked if we wanted a ride (the elders were using the car that day). We said yes! She took us up north to stop by Karine, who was home. #miracle
-We talked with Karine for a while, not really a lesson, but we did explain about eternal families. She shared that her father died when she was 12 and she was so sad that she wouldn't ever see him again, but when she heard that we believe in eternal families, that gave her hope!! #miracle
-Karine gave me 2 cupcakes. :)

-at 9:30pm we got a call from Sister Couto in Central Falls, who said that Zito and Filomena, a couple I taught a lot in Central Falls, were going to get baptized the next day! What? She said we HAD to find a ride because they wanted all the missionaries who taught them to be there, and apparently Elder Araujo already had a ride. #miraclesfordays

-Sister Bronovski and I went on a crazy adventure to Taunton, about 30 minutes away, to get our Bishop's signature on Vania's baptism record so that she could get a membership record number and go to the temple on Saturday. Thanks to the Saxeys (senior couple nearby), we did it! And Sister B practiced some driving :) She's really good! #miracle
-we went a little bit fubeca. But we made bread for the Saxeys :)
-The Saxeys were the BEST and gave us a ride to Central Falls!!! Wow, I love that place. I'll take you all there when we visit my mission, you'll love it too. #miracles
-We stopped by the Silveira family. We knocked on the door, they asked who it was, and I just said "Sisters!" They said to come in, so I opened the door and just waited. They realized it was me, and everyone came and ran to give me a hug. I LOVE THOSE PEOPLE. 
-Zito and Filomena's baptism!!! We have been working with them since late July or early August, and they finally were willing and able and worthy to be baptized. I felt such a sweet spirit there at the baptism, and it was wonderful to see some members from Central Falls again. #miracles (hence the pictures in the Central Falls chapel :))

-Weekly planning went so long. I think we were all dreaming of dinner.
-2 Thanksgiving dinners, 3 additional stopbys. Thank goodness the other 3 didn't make us eat any food. Cape Verdeans get offended usually if you don't eat "enough" food. We went to bed a little too full that night. 
----haha and dinner was only maybe 60% American. Maria Gomes, the member who gave us the 1st dinner, made rolls just because I talked about the rolls Melanie always makes. :) She told me at dinner that this was the first year she ever made rolls. SHE'S SO SWEET. They were good too!

-District Meeting. The usual.
-Awesome lesson with Tilan. She wants to be baptized around February! We went through the baptism questions with her, and she just needs a testimony of Joseph Smith and living prophets. She is really intent on knowing the truth, so please pray that she can receive a testimony!
-We visited Ducha, a recent convert, then had Maria Andrade who gave us dinner
-AnaPaula came out with us all day and bought us padina (the best pork thing you've ever eaten) and pastel :)
-timing was PERFECT today. We found a lost less active recent convert just walking along a totally random street. #miracles Also we contacted a girl who walked out of the elevator just as we wanted to go in. Her boyfriend in Cape Verde is a member of the church, and she wants to learn more. #miracles

-Patricia dropped us, but wants us to help her with her wedding invites. Hey, she said it would give us practice for our own weddings. Haha it was actually a little bit of a relief that she dropped us, her questions are hard...
-We went to the temple with Vania!! It was great. When we got there though, we realized the elders (and us) never explained what actually happens in the temple to her. Whoops. But she loved the whole experience, and we took a lot of pictures. #miracles
-We ate catchupa at Claudia and Nunu's house. She was so excited to feed us! And her catchupa was actually really good.
-Carla and Nely's baptism!! It went relatively smoothly. The Spirit was there and the girls loved it. 
-sister Couto told me that Jee and Jose, 2 boys I taught in Central Falls, were baptized on Saturday too! #miracles
-I also finished reading the Book of Mormon again, and I received another witness that it is TRUE! I love that book. I learn so much every single time I read it.

-I finished correcting and writing the Silent Night music I've been working on! Success!
-...And I took on another piece, O Holy Night, to play for a member. It's Sally Ford, so I hate it actually. Not really, it will just take a while to learn. I have a week. Maybe 2.
-We played the classic "hot or cold" game in Primary. Kids can sing really loud or really soft, but they aren't so good at the in-between thing haha.
-After church we visited with Kelly Moreira to help her plan the Christmas play that the Primary children will do on December 19th. too bad I'll miss it :( Kelly is the greatest. I helped set up for her wedding last August!
-we taught a rather random family the Restoration last night. They didn't seem too interested, actually. But I felt the Spirit very strongly as I testified of the truthfulness of our message and of the Book of Mormon. I think sometimes hard lessons are there to strengthen our own testimonies, rather than the testimonies of those we teach. 

And here we are.

So, all in all--Zito, Filomena, Carla, Nely, Jee, and Jose got baptized this week. 

I also heard that Laura, one of my very first recent converts, has finished the temple preparation classes. I hope we can make it all work so she can be endowed before I leave!! I think it might work out, actually. The 14th is her year mark, and the 15th is my last full day in the field. I'll talk to her about it :)

I can't believe that I have less than 3 weeks left. Tomorrow is December. What? Time passes so quickly, especially when you are focused on serving the Lord! I am so grateful for everything I have learned as a missionary, and for the things I will yet learn in my last 2 1/2 weeks. Whew, that will pass so quickly...

Well, family and friends, if you ever wanted to write me on my mission, now is the time. Next week I will email probably on Tuesday, because Monday we have a zone conference with Elder Packer of the Seventy, and I am pretty sure they will change our pday to be Tuesday, or we'll at least email that day. So don't cry if you don't receive my email on Monday--it's still coming :)

I think on my last pday we will actually be going up to Boston/Cambridge because that night we have a Christmas Fireside that I am a part of up in Cambridge. So my time might be short to write that week, but I'll see most of you 5 days later, so we'll be fine. 


Anyways, I hope you enjoy this first week of December! I love Christmastime. The other day I heard Taylor Swift's version of "Last Christmas", one of my classic favorites. That's when you know it's Christmastime. 

And even Brockton is pretty at this time of the year! Wow!

I love you all! Have a great week.