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Semana 49

By 9:21 AM


So this week was the best week of the year!!!! Talking to you guys was so awesome, (even though I spent the entire time talking... regret that I didn´t let you guys do a bit more talking hahah whoops.. there´s always next time).
I loved the pictures from the Christmas festivities. Adam you are the most stylish 18 year old college kid I have ever met. You must take after your older sister. ;) Dad the cooked goose looked SO GOOD!!! And loved the nativity picture of all the cousins. It never gets old.

So this week we had a Christmas miracle. As I explained in the Skype call and in my previous emails, it´s been a challenge opening this area, but the Lord has been opening doors in our path and letting us learn through experience. Saturday we arrived in our area and were on our way to visit some people when I had a prompting to visit Tina and her husband. We went to their house and it was just the wrong timing... she was smoking in the kitchen making dinner, he was blasting music from the sound system and playing his electric keyboard singing along, and we  couldn´t get ahold of the situation to tell them we wanted to share a message. I said a quick prayer, and then we managed to sit them down on the couch and we began to teach the Restoration. As we said the opening prayer, a neighbor stopped by to visit with Tina and her husband. We, however, continued the lesson, and he stayed listening the entire time! We got his information afterwards, and when we invited him to church he said, "oh yeah I know where the church is. I drive past  it every day for work." So when we told him we would come pick him up sunday morning and that he could go together with us, he said "oh no that´s not necessary. I know where it is and what time it starts. If it works out I´ll go tomorrow and bring my wife and daughter."  He didn´t have a cell phone for us to call or keep in contact, but we decided that whatever happened we would pass by his house sunday morning. So, sunday morning came around and we looked EVERYWHERE for this guy´s house, but came up with a blank. Nothing. We asked neighbors, no one knew who he was. So we went to church after having done all we could. When we got to the church building, I passed the primary class and... HE WAS SITTING THERE WITH HIS 8 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER. They had come to church all by themselves!!!  I was so excited and thanked the Lord for opening his heart and bringing them to church! He had even read 2 Nephi 31 from the Book of Mormon the night before.   We are going to work with them this week and I am so excited to see what happens  - pray that the miracle will continue with them and that we can help them be baptied!

So  this Christmas was my first and only on the mission. My first Christmas away from home. I know that a lot of people don´t know what Christmas is like for a missionary, but I wrote a little story about my Christmas experience and wanted to share with you all (and please excuse my terrible English).

"It´s Christmas Eve in Northeastern Brasil - but appears nothing like it. No fluffy, white snow piled high, no Christmas lights, no carols sung in the streets. No one shouting  "Merry Christmas!", and giving gifts to neighbors. No smell of mulling spices wafting from chimney tops or ginger bread cookies baked. Not a single hint of Christmas whistled in the wind. Well, there was always the afternoon dust storm that seemed to raise the already infinitely hot temperatures even higher. Would I ever escape the blistering sun rays and be relieved of this eternal summer? Oh, how much I would love to take a shower about now. But that would have to be compromised to 4 or 5 buckets full of precious water we had saved since the last time this town got water - months ago. Water, something so simple, yet the most coveted and prized possession to these people. How could anyone feel Christmas spirit in the air at a time such as this? Let alone listen to our messages of Christ himself? Even worse, a lack of good planning and resources had left us eight missionaries without a way to call home - the sacred hour that comes only twice a year. For a foreigner  already thousands of miles away from home, I settled into despair. Surely, this would be the worst Christmas. As the long night passed on, scenes from my childhood Christmas memories played and replayed in my mind, the happiness only fleeting. Such a reflection  brought me to my knees, and I asked God to open my heart  and eyes that had become numbed  to what they call the "reality of life". 
Not long after my prayer, an angelic sound floated to my ears. The laughter of children, playing games of sticks and stones in the street that we had passed earlier that day. Soon, the image came into focus, and I saw their smiles. Other memories flooded my mind. My tired legs pleading for a rest, but helping a Senhora sit in the only chair. Admir ing the sky full of bright stars, being so far removed from any real city. Listening to a teenager´s first prayer. Or a grown adult. Or  your own offered prayer, and looking up to see the man of the household with eyes full of tears. Taking advantage of the sometimes silent walk home to reflect on the countless times that God worked a miracle that day, in your life and the lives of o thers. Recognizing the JOY that comes from being God´s servant.
It was in this moment that I realizede how Christmas really wasn´t about the festivities I was missing out on back home, or even the lack of wa ter and inescapable summer heat. It wasn´t about the trials that I was facing or just the deep-set homesickness. I realized that Christmas  wasn´t wrapped in tinsel this year, but wrapped in my calling and office of an angel, to proclaim  good tidings of great joy to all people (Luke 2:10), the news of our Savior, Lord, and Redeemer. To publish peach on earth in living the restored gospel. To one day return together as eternal families and dwell with the Prince of Peace. I guess that what I really learned this Christmas is that EVERYTHING testifies of Him, no matter what we may be passing in our life. The night sky, laughter, love for our neighbor, and a child´s sweet prayer. Christmas is always around us. And even a hemisphere away from hom e, the gospel principles I learned there have never left my side. You are always in my heart, family."

With love,
Sister Brown

PS about the Christmas package -

The Christmas package was the greatest thing as well! My favorite part were the cards from everyone... I cried so much!!! My favorites were from the family: Bennet, Cade, grandma and grandpa Brown and Peterson. Your letters really were inspired. Also LOVED the letter from Kolby and "the crew"  (Branson and Christian). You guys are my number ones back home and  I´ll also never forget the sweet card you guys sent me for my birthday.   #1 homies. Ceej - I´ll never stop calling you ceej. You better take me out when I get home. hahah but thanks for your RM advice! Meant so much Jake - thank you as well for your RM advice!! I miss you guys so much. Allison - your card was inspired. You talked a lot about you and Brady and how the mission helped you marry him, and I needed to hear your counsel! Thank you! Eliza - I can´t believe how the time has flown by. Here soon we will be living together again and I just can´t wait! I love you so much.  And Holly -  our friendship is eternal. It will pick up right where it left off!

Anyway I wish I could thank EVERYONE individually, seriously with every single card I just cried and had personal thank yous in my heart for every one. There is nothing better than a card... please send me cards no one sends me them!!! !!


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